David Henderson is correct that my colleagues Bryan Caplan and Robin Hanson are correct that it is incorrect to believe that politics is about policy. (A handful of principled policy-oriented people, such as Rep. Justin Amash [R-MI] successfully attain high political office. But they are too rare to matter. And as the state grows larger, more intrusive, and discretionary, these principled politicians – regardless of their ideologies – will become rarer still.)
Some buy into the narratives proffered by Trump; others are already calling themselves the resistance to our new fair-haired, orange president. Political factions are giving a new perverse meaning to the phrase, “seek, and ye shall find.”
It’s sickening. Despite the freedom to believe and say what they wish, millions of people are taking their cues based on what the new leader says and does, as though the only question worth asking today is, “how should the power of the U.S. government be administered?” If only they asked themselves, “should this power exist in the first place?”
My Mercatus Center colleague Dan Griswold argues – convincingly, in my view – why our good friends at the Competitive Enterprise Institute are mistaken in their opposition to trade agreements. (Let me be clear here – and I believe that Dan agrees with me 100 percent: the best policy, economically and ethically, is complete free trade, which each government can achieve without any negotiations with, or sign-offs from, other governments. Each government can and should simply eliminate all of its trade barriers. Such a policy move is far better than any trade agreement. But such a policy move is politically impractical. Because in my judgment most trade agreements make trade freer than otherwise, I prefer the achievement of this good to the not-achievement of this good, even as I recognize that making trade freer through trade agreements is, regrettably, not to make trade completely free.)
The film does double duty in providing a history lesson about the injustices of racial prejudice and the idiocy of the segregationist laws that prevented smart people from fully contributing to their families and communities. Economists and economics teachers can also take note. Students could learn a lot about basic principles of labor market productivity, especially the consequences of allowing prejudice to limit economic opportunity and subsequently the contributions of human labor.
The third myth, that the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor, is refuted by this historic trend: About 56 percent of those in the top income quintile will drop from it within 20 years. Barely one-half of the top 1 percent of earners are in that category for 10 consecutive years. And, says Tanner, “one out of every five children born to parents in the bottom income quintile will reach one of the top two quintiles in adulthood.”
The fourth myth is that more inequality means more poverty. For example, in the mid-1990s, inequality was unusually high but basic measures of poverty showed significant decreases.