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The Circus

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:

Kathleen Parker is understandably disgusted that so much public discourse is driven by buffoons such as Donald Trump who appeal to Americans who are, as Ms. Parker notes, “unconvinced by facts” (“Birthers, buffoonery and a sad discourse,” May 1).

The problem, however, extends beyond the rantings of megalomaniacs with no prospect of winning office.  It includes also the rantings of megalomaniacs who succeed in winning office.

Consider, for instance, claims by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) that American manufacturing is declining and that the way to fix this alleged problem is with higher tariffs.  There is no factual basis for their assertions that 1) Americans no longer manufacture enough stuff (the real value of U.S. manufacturing output today is at an all-time high); 2) that America is economically successful the greater is the number of manufacturing jobs ‘created’ in America (Do Messrs. Brown and Sanders encourage their children to work on the factory floor instead of becoming doctors or web-designers?); and 3) that protecting domestic producers from foreign competition promotes economic growth (see the past 235 years of intense economic research into this matter).

So while Ms. Parker justifiably laments the reality that many Americans remain “unconvinced by facts” regarding Mr. Obama’s birthplace, this idiocy is just one of many bits of evidence that politics is a circus run by clowns performing stupid stunts for gullible audiences.

Donald J. Boudreaux