17.4.17

THE MANY FLAVORS OF RENT-SEEKING.

Former labor secretary Robert Reich goes on record.  Shorter version:  Trump voters got hosed.
He said he’d clean the Washington swamp. You bought it. Then he brought into his administration more billionaires, CEOs, and Wall Street moguls than in any administration in history, to make laws that will enrich their businesses.
Yes, he did change his mind on the Export-Import Bank.  "Apparently, America's most explicitly mercantilist president in years isn't about to eliminate a mercantilist institution."  Some of Mr Reich's earlier work on industrial policy flirts with mercantilism.  But mercantilism combined with high corporate taxes.  Or something.

But wait, there's more!  "Lawmakers could emulate this model to fight against the unfairness of corporate welfare and stand for its unseen victims. Their efforts might not always be successful, but they would be remembered for trying to bring some justice and balance against those giant beneficiaries of favoritism."  And yes, Mr Reich, if you wanted to make common cause with me on defunding the Export-Import Bank, I'd appreciate that.  You don't have to make common cause on defunding public broadcasting and the national endowments.

But Mr Reich has his own rents to seek.
He said he’d surround himself with all the best and smartest people. You bought it. Then he put Betsy DeVos, opponent of public education, in charge of education; Jeff Sessions, opponent of the Voting Rights Act, in charge of voting rights; Ben Carson, opponent of the Fair Housing Act, in charge of fair housing; Scott Pruitt, climate change denier, in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency; and Russian quisling Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State.
Yes, all those public agencies have been such spectacular successes, haven't they?

What has happened to the academic achievement of public school students since the Department of Education set up shop?  Why are state legislators requiring universities to keep track of the high schools sending them students not yet ready for college?  Why is home-schooling a thing?

Drain the swamp.

In what way is requiring that people show proper proof of citizenship in order to vote, or proper identification before voting, an infringement of voting rights?

Drain the swamp.

What sort of fairness is implicit in urban renewal?  Mightn't the best thing for the national government to do about housing be to go away?

Drain the swamp.

What effect will all of the efforts of the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce greenhouse gas production have on worldwide temperatures?  And how many amelioration efforts will go badly along the way?

Drain the swamp.

Russian quisling?  Since when have Democrats and their court intellectuals started getting tough on Russians?

Drain the swamp.

Mr Reich's manifesto is well within the normal range of advocacy for Big Government.

But that advocacy brings in its own form of rent-seeking, and in some ways, the advocates for the continuance of tax and tax, spend and spend, regulate and regulate, elect and elect strike me as being more interested in there continuing to exist pockets of desperation to "fight" for and claim to be Governing in Their Interest.  And yes, it has worked so well for getting Bobby and Gwen and John and Maxine elected and elected, and Mr Reich has his policy forum to continue his advocacy.

But it hasn't worked out so well for constituents of those ward-heeler politicians, and it hasn't worked out so well for a lot of people elsewhere.

Drain the swamp.

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