10.2.17

A DISSENTING VIEW ON THE TRUMP CABINET.

I'm in general agreement with Oregon columnist Dan Lucas.
I have been very pleased — and at times pleasantly surprised — by Trump’s Cabinet picks and key appointments so far; notably Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, Gen. Mattis for Secretary of Defense, Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general, Gov. Rick Perry for Secretary of Energy and Gov. Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Keep in mind the passage that follows before we turn to the dissent.
There was one aspect of Trump’s supporters that I completely missed. I was humbled and chagrined to see how we as a county had been letting down a large, unrepresented segment of our fellow Americans. The people living in the Rust Belt whose jobs had left, and all of the other Americans who were suffering silently with no spokesperson, no lobbyists and no one advocating on their behalf. A year ago Peggy Noonan called them “the unprotected.” They found an advocate in Donald Trump. For his supporters, Trump may be a flawed messenger, but at least he was carrying the message, and he was the only one who was.

I am cautiously optimistic. For me, the big victory was the Supreme Court nominees being selected by someone other than Clinton. The rest is gravy. I’m still concerned by some of the same things regarding Trump’s temperament and character, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by many of his conservative appointments and actions so far.
The dissenting view, from Angry Bear Linda Beale, appears to honor the unprotected as well, if from the traditional New Deal, Great Society frame.
We Americans share many values. Among them has always been a view that those who are better off should help those who are less well off. We’ve done that in many ways, beginning with private charity (supported by our tax code) but going much beyond the soup kitchens and church support for a sick parishioner to include a progressive income tax, taxation of the estates of the wealthiest among us upon their deaths (since they were generally almost tax free in life), and the provision of many necessary services through public institutions.
We could stop with a "provided by whom?" Blank-out.  Among those things?
  1. A public right to decent health care.  Yeah, that worked out so well for Venezuela.
  2. Public education from kindergarten through college.  Yeah, that's working so well in Chicago.
  3. Protection of the environment.  Mitigating a flooded mine ought not pollute the Animas River.
  4. Regulation of hours and terms of labor service.  On paper, appealing, in practice, often protects established large employers.
  5. Regulation of financial enterprises.  Also appealing on paper, in practice, generates rents.
  6. Regulation of food and drug quality.  Consider the case for private warranties and performance bonds.
The gripe, though, might simplify to "Mr Trump is bringing the rent-seekers in directly." "Trump’s appointees for many of the important Cabinet positions seem to be primarily wealthy crony capitalists with radical ideologies that are in direct conflict with the agency missions."  And Ms Beale's preferred political economy might actually be one in which more market-tested betterments are useful.
I believe that every American wants our society to move towards a sustainable economy with decent livelihoods for all, good health care for everyone, education that provides opportunities and knowledge that bridges the gap between those born with wealth and the majority of us who are not.
Specifically, finding remunerative work opportunities for people of varying skills is the epitome of an entrepreneurial challenge, with fixes such as Whitney's interchangeable parts, Ford's assembly line, and contemporary smart cash registers and coffee machines augmenting the talents of people with modest skills.  In health care, do government policies that allow Lasik surgery and tummy tucks to go down in price, while insulin and orthotics must be shielded from price competition, make sense?  In education, how long and how frequently must I gripe about people rendered unemployable by government schools and the minimum wage?  In sum, the Canonical Ways of Doing Things is not turning out well for the unprotected.

It's going to be up to Mr Trump, with friendly majorities in the House and Senate, to clear the clutter of regulations in order that market-tested betterments get a fighting chance.

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