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Why Trust These People?

In my latest column for AIER I ask – rhetorically, it is true – what good reason we have for trusting that government officials are making prudent, wise, and apolitical decisions regarding the covid lockdowns. A slice:

These People are politically driven. Even if (contrary to fact) there were a scientifically determinable single best course of government action in this crisis, what reason have These People given us to believe that they are capable of finding that course and of understanding it? And even if These People could find and understand this scientifically ‘best’ course of action, what reason have we to believe that they possess the political fortitude to implement and stick to it?

More fundamentally, These People have an atrocious track record when it comes to the economy. These People routinely display appalling ignorance of the most basic facts of economic reality.

These People regularly act as if the world is filled with free lunches and as if reality is optional.

When they raise minimum wages, These People deny that low-skilled workers will suffer any negative consequences. When they raise tariffs, These People proclaim that the resulting greater scarcities at home will bring about greater abundance. When they defend rent control, These People, applauding themselves for helping poor families, remain oblivious to the resulting reduced availability and worsening quality of rental housing.

These People concoct in their political petri dishes the economic cancer of occupational licensing and then unleash it on society. In doing so, These People see only the increased incomes of the monopolists whose competitors are killed off. These People are blind to the harm suffered both by consumers and by those producers denied the opportunity to offer their services to the public.

These People defend the government-school monster-monopoly. They pump ever-more taxpayer money into this monster’s maw and insist that the monster’s continuing failures justify not ridding it of its monopoly status but, instead, stuffing it with ever-more taxpayer money.

These People seem not to understand the first thing about incentives.

These People either actively support or do nothing to oppose the calamitous “war on drugs.” This fact shouldn’t surprise, I guess: after all, These People profit from the banana republic practice of civil asset forfeiture – a practice These People declare to be an important “tool” in fighting the “war on drugs.”

Very many of These People believe that adults are children who, absent the kindly intervention of These People, will guzzle too many sugary drinks, ingest too many trans fats, and vape excessively.

These People insist that the typical American is too irresponsible to save for his or her own retirement. Yet many of These People cannot arrange for the government in which they serve to live within its own means. These People spend borrowed money like mad today and, without shame – or, maybe worse, without realizing it – pass the bill on to future generations. These People clearly haven’t the backbone to deny the most frivolous and costly goodies to their constituents. These People, after all, won’t be in office when the bills come due – so what do These People care about what happens in the future?