We are capitalists, conservatives and federalists in part because we acknowledge and understand human nature. Its possibilities – and its limitations.
They are Socialists because they are Utopian fantasists. They think they can remake humanity and the planet into a Heaven on Earth. And the vehicle with which they attempt this intercontinental, multi-billion-person fundamental transformation – is government.
Faith in government is itself a failure to grasp human nature. For several reasons. One of them is the Wallet Rule:
If you go out on a Friday night with your wallet, and you go out the following Friday night with my wallet – on which Friday night are you going to have more fun?
You’ll have a whole lot more fun on my wallet – because you don’t care what it looks like at the end of the evening.
Government always and only operates on other peoples’ wallets. It will never care about how the money is spent the way the people who earned it do. So huge tracts of wasted coin are inevitable.
So too are huge tracts of coin very poorly spent. If the money doesn’t matter – the results of spending it don’t either. We have more than a century of evidence that government money doesn’t help the private sector and the people who receive it – it warps and damages both.
Why Are Millions of Men Choosing Not to Work?: “The work rate for adult men has plunged 13 percentage points in a half-century….Since 1948, the proportion of men 20 and older without paid work has more than doubled, to almost 32 percent.…For 50 years, the number of men in that age cohort who are neither working nor looking for work has grown nearly four times faster than the number who are working or seeking work.”
And why is this? Government money.
“(Nicholas) Eberstadt does not say that government assistance causes this, but obviously it finances it. To some extent, however, this is a distinction without a difference….Largely because of government benefits and support by other family members, nonworking men 25 to 54 have household expenditures a third higher than the average of those in the bottom income quintile. Hence, Eberstadt says, they ‘appear to be better off than tens of millions of other Americans today, including the millions of single mothers who are either working or seeking work.’”
Human nature dictates that if you pay people to do nothing – why on Earth would they do something?
Human nature also dictates that if you guarantee people money to do something stupid – they will flock to do something stupid. Rather than risk their money, time and effort looking to do something intelligent. And it certainly ain’t just a domestic problem. Humans, after all, are humans.
Chinese Subsidies Soar, Sales of Their Stockpiles Loom: “U.S. trade officials announced that the United States was targeting China in an international trade case over the legality of its rice, corn, and wheat subsidies. The U.S. agricultural community cheered, as U.S. negotiators showed a desire to start rooting out the trade-distorting policies that are so manipulating world commodity markets.”
Yes, introducing some rationality anywhere into global farm policy would be great. They have for decades been complete strangers. Unfortunately, China responded with more of the exact same stupidity.
“The government decided to play hardball with its protectionist practices….Reuters reported, ‘the Agricultural Development Bank of China, one of the country’s main policy lenders, agreed to loan at least 3 trillion yuan ($450 billion) by 2020’ for the further modernization of China’s agriculture industry. In other words, it shrugged it shoulders and doubled down with HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS more of government money designed to give it an unfair advantage.”
With this much stupid government action – you get an equally stupid private sector reaction.
Government pays people to do certain things – so people do those things. Regardless of whether or not the market needs or wants them. China has dumped billions into crops – and, shocker, they have huge surpluses of those crops. Which they will now use – to further distort the market.
“Another Reuters story…stated, ‘After cotton and corn, China could sell sugar from state stockpiles.’ Reuters was correct. By October 1, China Daily reported, ‘Chinese authorities will release the first batch of sugar reserves this year to stabilize supply and prices, the country’s top economic planner announced on Friday….When the Chinese government uses phrases like ‘stabilize supply and prices,’ it really means ‘manipulate the market to subsidize its industry.’”
Get all that? Government thinks it can ignore human nature – and pays people to grow certain crops. Humans being humans, way too many people grow those crops – and they end up with huge, extraneous stockpiles. Marketplace warped.
Having screwed up the market with subsidies, government exponentially increases the subsidies – to bail out the farmers who didn’t make any money on the crops the government paid them to grow. Marketplace further warped.
And the government begins dumping their government-money crops. Driving down further still crop prices. Which will inexorably lead to more government money for farmers – because they can’t possibly make any money at the government-warped, much lower market prices.
Lather, rinse, repeat. And down and down they go.
China – and much of the rest of the world – should take note of what the U.S. has of late been doing.
“[T]he U.S. has repeatedly reformed farm policy, abiding by limits agreed to in the (World Trade Organization) WTO. By contrast, according to USTR, China has exceeded its maximum allowable support (the amount China agreed to when it joined the WTO), for corn, wheat, and rice by $100 billion in 2015.
“Let us put this in plain terms: the ENTIRE farm safety net spending for 2015 for the United States was about $12 billion, which is well below our limits agreed to in the WTO. Whereas, China went OVER its limits on just THREE crops by $100 BILLION in that same year.”
We should use the WTO to free trade away the rest of our subsidies. In exchange for places like China free trading away theirs.
It is far better than ignoring human nature – and continuing our subsidized slide into oblivion.
This first appeared in Red State.