Friday, October 14, 2016
Is the US Government Stupid, Corrupt or Incompetent?
When I review my own thinking about Globalization, using that term very loosely, and the various issues that it raises, I keep coming back to the same question.
It goes something like this. There is no doubt to anyone who has studied economics that many of the negative issues of Globalization, as discussed in other posts on this blog, were predictable in broad outline. And there is no doubt to anyone who examines the evidence that our government enabled Globalization but did not put in place any of the sorts of programs that would help Americans who were likely to be impoverished by these policies find a new way to make a living. Nor was there any attempt by our government to address the increasing income inequality that would be the natural result of their policies. Furthermore, the record is clear that while many economists went public with the likely implications of these policies, they were apparently ignored, but even more important, our leaders did not discuss these implications with the American people. We also have to contend with the evidence that Washington is (maybe was) completely unaware of the vast anger and distress that these policies caused until it was shoved in their face, and even then I think they were blindsided and do not really acknowledge the issues even today. (See for example the incredibly stupid and egregious defense of the deceptive undemployment index in the New Yorker, reference to be provided eventually).
So I propose to you that this leads us to ask the following questions.
Was our government completely stupid, incompetent, and unaware of the implications of their policies? Or were they deliberately following a policy that was going to destroy the lives of millions of Americans to increase the profits of the rich? A third possibility might be that they were aware of the implications, but simply failed to take the corrective actions that would be necessary to attempt to ameliorate the distress caused.
The reason I keep coming back to this question is as follows. If they were merely stupid, then they are not competent to be running our government, and we should have no hope for the future. If they were cavalier about the well-being of so many Americans, then we should not expect that to change and should have no hope for the future.
Either way, the conclusion is that our government is fucked, is dangerous to the people, and that there is no hope for the future.
None of this will make the least bit of sense to you unless you understand how well understood the issues and controversies of “free trade” aka “globalization” are. None of this is new. It goes back to the 19th century and the dawn of modern economics as we know it.