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Politicians Pursue Power, Not Truth or Understanding

Arnold Kling points out that Jim Webb’s op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal lacks any real suggestions for how to solve the problem that Webb allegedly believes now haunts America.

If this lack of specifics means a lack of action by government, I’d be pleased.  But I suspect that there are lots of harmful interventions on the horizon.  Greg Mankiw quite wisely notes that many of the favored policies now promoted by the American left — raising the minimum-wage, protectionism, labor cartelization, and Wal-Mart bashing — are poor policy tools to address the problems the left frets over.

Here’s a letter that I sent today to the Wall Street Journal in response to Webb’s huffing and puffing:

Dear Editor:

Webb’s fear-mongering essay about income inequality obviously is meant
to justify higher taxes on "the rich," boondoggle programs for "working
Americans," and protectionism for special-interest groups posing as
victims of nefarious foreign merchants ("American Workers Have a Chance
to Be Heard," Nov. 15).  And like all such efforts, Webb’s is a series
of illogical arguments and half-truths.

For example, he says
that "manufacturing jobs are disappearing."  True.  Contrary to his
suggestion, though, this fact is unrelated to recent trends in
globalization, corporate governance, or tax policy.  Manufacturing jobs
as a percentage of the U.S. work force peaked in 1945 and have declined
steadily ever since – even though manufacturing output continues to
rise.  Today this output is at an all-time high.

I understand that politicians pursue power rather than truth.  Still, it’s galling to read such concentrated deceitfulness.

Donald J. Boudreaux