Here’s a letter to Politico:
You report today in “’Hillarynomics’: A sneak preview ” that “Clinton’s aide said she will discuss some of the structural forces conspiring against sustainable wage growth, such as globalization, automation, and even consumer-friendly ‘sharing economy.’”
In other words, candidate Clinton is signaling that she’s a member of the economic illiterati – a group that for centuries has warned that ordinary people will be impoverished by expanded opportunities to buy and sell (that is, by globalization), by machinery that releases labor to perform tasks that would otherwise be too costly to perform (that is, by automation), and by innovations that increase the supply of goods and services by encouraging owners of private property to use their properties more intensively to satisfy consumer demands (that is, by the sharing economy).
Never mind that history has repeatedly proven these warnings to be false. Instead, a voter tempted to take Ms. Clinton’s assertions seriously should first demand that Ms. Clinton explain how a government policy of preventing her – the voter – from buying from sellers who offer her the best deals, and from selling to buyers who offer her the best prices, would make this voter better off. This voter should also insist that Ms. Clinton spell out just how less automation – say, replacing automobiles with horses and buggies, replacing refrigerators with iceboxes, and forcing workers to use spoons rather than bulldozers to clear the construction site for her dream house – would truly improve the standard of living of this voter’s family. This voter should then ask why Ms. Clinton thinks that a government policy of shutting down rental-car companies, taxis, and hotels and motels – all of which, just like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb, use available technology to share their private properties with paying consumers – would promote prosperity for ordinary Americans.
If Ms. Clinton offers satisfactory answers to these questions, by all means vote for her. But if her answers are vague or otherwise unsatisfactory, then Ms. Clinton deserves the votes only of the incumbent producers who alone stand to gain from her privilege-laden policies.
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030
Asking an economist today to take seriously the economic pronouncements of any typical political candidate is as insulting as it would be to ask an astronomer today to take seriously the pronouncements of any typical astrologer.