But one thing you learn from history is that no idea is too insane to be off limits to a group infected with a longing to rule.
Anthony Gill wonders if it’s even possible to “buy local” in the way that buy-local enthusiasts suppose. (Few enthusiasms, in my view, so thoroughly reveal in those who hold them a profound ignorance not only of economics but also of the brute facts of reality as does the enthusiasm to “buy local.”)
There is disagreement among Republicans about what policies should be forwarded, and President Trump does not know what he himself thinks about any of them, because he does not think anything about any of them, because he doesn’t know about them. Trump does not do details – he does adjectives. He wants a “terrific” health-care system. So does Bernie Sanders, but the two of them don’t agree on what that means in practice. At least, they don’t agree anymore: Trump has in the past endorsed the same single-payer system that the grumpy little socialist Muppet from Vermont prefers, which he, or whoever writes the books published under his name, described at some length in his 2000 offering The America We Deserve. He pointed to Canada as an example of how health care in the United States should be organized. He might even have believed that for a week or two, but Trump is simply too lazy to do the intellectual work necessary to develop a coherent position beyond his facile superlatives.
Barkley Rosser (who, by the way, is no libertarian free-marketeer) finds great fault in Nancy MacLean’s fabulist book, Democracy in Chains. (He is, however, mistaken on a few matters. Jim Buchanan did not attend the inaugural meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society. More importantly, there in fact is very little evidence, and no reason to believe, that Buchanan had any influence on the creation of a new Chilean constitution under Pinochet. Andrew Farrant has a couple of working papers, at least one with Vlad Tarko, on Buchanan’s alleged influence on Pinochet.) Here are some slices from Rosser’s essay:
What about major problems with MacLean’s arguments? I shall note three, starting with one noted by others and effectively granted by MacLean herself. This is the claim she makes in the final chapter that Tyler Cowen supports suppressing democracy. This is based on a quote she supplies that was definitely taken out of context, a context where it was clear that the content of the isolated quote was contradicted by what immediately followed it. Even those who have supported MacLean’s book on Facebook such as Gary Mongiovi have agreed that MacLean was simply out to lunch on this matter, although while she has recognized that the quote is problematic, she has not fully retracted her argument related to it.
A second problem reflects that MacLean is not an economist and seems to seriously misunderstand public choice theory, with her views on rent seeking being a strong example. In discussing rent seeking, a concept originated by Buchanan’s important coauthor, the late Gordon Tullock, and labeled by the centrist liberal development economist, Anne Krueger, she consistently identifies the supposed rent seekers as politicians seeking voting support from activist liberal groups such a unions and civil rights groups, especially the latter, whom the the supposedly anti-democratic tendndencies of Buchanan are directed against. But in fact in public choice theory the rent seekers are priviate interest groups that use government to create artificial monopolies, which generate the rents these groups are seeking. It is really a quasi-Marxist view that sees capitalists using the government to enhance their corrupt profits. It is ironic that I have seen public choice economists show up at URPE [Union for Radical Political Economics] social gatherings at meetings to discuss how they have this in common with the radical left URPE folks, opposition to corrupt use of the government by rent seeking private interests.
But when MacLean links the Kochs with Trump there is indeed a further problems: they did not support him, certainly not in the GOP primaries, where reportedly they preferred pretty much anybody but him, although it would appear that they may have made at least some peace with him since he entered office. But they disagree with him on many of his policies, see the list above of things they support I agree with and which Donald Trump by and large disagrees with.