The United States starts this third decade of the 21st century with a new Democratic Administration coming into the White House and possibly dominating Congress, depending upon two Senatorial runoff elections in Georgia. But whether there is a Democratic-controlled federal government or a divided government with the Republicans holding a slim majority in the Senate, the worst of the collectivist fads and fashions will be pushed over the coming years.
Climate change-based controls and centralized planning will be pushed aggressively; demands will be made for more regulation of business in the name of “social justice” and corporate “social responsibility;” calls will be made for increased taxes on “the rich” and not so rich to cover more of the redistributive plunder games that are the mother’s milk of political power and privilege; race and gender warfare will be ratcheted up on college campuses, corporate boardrooms, and the shop floors of private enterprises, great and small.
The political air is likely to be even more ideologically toxic and polluted with every imaginable economic fallacy. Renewed calls for raising the national minimum wage to $15 or more an hour; increased “free lunches” through more government deficit spending; disregard for savings and investment as the keystones to economic and social betterment in the future by demands for higher taxes on income and wealth; insistence that government experts and agencies have the knowledge, wisdom and ability to plan the right and desirable patterns of capital investment for energy, infrastructure, the location and type of businesses, and the education and employment of the workforce based on race and gender social justice.
In other words, there appears to be a groundswell of economic ignorance and stupidity facing us, and even more than usual. What this means for friends of freedom and practitioners of sound, free market economics, however, is a need to redouble our efforts, and not wallow in despair and disappointment. Bad policies inescapably bring about undesirable and counterproductive effects. But their very failures can serve as openings to more reasonable and rational policies looking to the future. If these are to have a chance, the case has to be made for a freer and more open society. That requires all of us to not turn away from this challenge as this new year and this new decade begin.
Richard M. Ebeling