Category Archives: Cronyism

Trump, Cruz & The ‘Establishment’

The Republican Party ‘Establishment’ is beside itself.  Whether conducting a private island meeting off the coast of Georgia attended by the likes of Karl Rove, Bill Kristol, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and several other GOP members of Congress, or the dusting off, winding up and marching out of Mitt Romney to throw down the gauntlet against the Trump candidacy, the Establishment’s recent actions bespeak desperation.

Accustomed to taking turns at the White House with the Democrat Party, it seems the Establishment either did not recognize, or did not take seriously, the risk that its hold on the GOP might be meaningfully challenged.  It attempted to follow the tried and true strategy for success (at the primary stage if not the general election).  Just hand pick one of its own with a career in mainstream republican politics and a record of embracing big government, stuff his pockets with millions in campaign contributions, and wait for the money/marketing machine to grind the political bones of the rest of the field.  This time it was Jeb Bush’s turn; but there were signs almost immediately that the strategy wasn’t working.  With each passing week, the Establishment’s concern must’ve grown more dire.  By the time it became apparent that Jeb Bush would not be able to gain ground, the Establishment found itself without a viable champion and facing the reality of massive voter support for an anti-establishment candidate in Donald Trump.

Enter Marco Rubio.  Whether Marco Rubio is a ‘dyed in the wool’ establishment Republican is subject to serious question.  But it’s clear that the Establishment has now cast it’s lot with Rubio’s campaign.  Though not its first choice, Rubio is the candidate the Establishment has determined gives it the best chance of maintaining control of the Party.  John Kasich likely fits the mold well, but he was running far behind Rubio when the Establishment was forced to shift its support from Bush to another candidate.  Kasich was simply much longer odds than Rubio at the time.

Ted Cruz could never be its candidate, having demonstrated on multiple occasions that he stands on his own principles and won’t play by the Establishment’s rules.  Recall for example his highly criticized filibuster against the ACA and his reference on the Senate floor to Mitch McConnell as a liar for paving the way for the reinstitution of the Export-Import Bank.  The Establishment’s rejection of Cruz as its candidate has been obvious – his name is roundly omitted by Establishment talking heads as an alternative to the front running anti-establishment candidate Donald Trump, and none in the media or in the Party suggests that Cruz is meaningfully supported by any of the Establishment contingent.  And as Trump has eagerly pointed out, until very recently none of Cruz’s fellow senators had endorsed him.

The primary election process has revealed the severity of the Establishment’s problem. Thus far, the popular vote of the four remaining GOP candidates is as follows:  Trump: 4,339,971 votes, Cruz: 3,576,646 votes, Rubio: 2,399,505 votes and Kasich: 1,088,865 votes.  Counting only the votes cast in favor of these four remaining candidates, the anti-Establishment candidates have commanded 69% of the popular vote against 31% for Rubio and Kasich.  Again, whether Rubio is truly an establishment candidate is subject to debate.  Assuming for the sake of argument that he is, the anti-Establishment candidates have a near 7 to 3 margin over the establishment candidates at this point in the race.  Take Rubio out of the equation and the Establishment fares far worse.

In a recent column, Bruce Bartlett, a former treasury official who self identifies as a Republican despite the fact that he voted for Barack Obama, wrote that he voted for Trump in order to destroy the GOP.  “I believe that only when the GOP suffers a massive defeat will it purge itself of the crazies and forces of intolerance that have taken control of it. Then, and only then, can the GOP become a center-right governing party that deserves to occupy the White House.  The death of today’s Republican Party is, therefore, necessary to its survival, in my opinion. And Donald Trump can make it happen, which is why I voted for him.”

The popular vote thus far does not support Bartlett’s thesis.  The results demonstrate a disdain for the Establishment so severe that a loss by populist Donald Trump in the general election in November may be more likely to give rise to a subsequent movement toward Cruz’s constitutional conservatism or Rand Paul’s libertarianism than a resurgence of the Establishment.  Rather than a “center-right”, corporatist, statist Republican in the White House come 2020, Mr. Bartlett might have to be satisfied with a Constitutionalist or Libertarian who believes the Federal government should be a fraction of its present size.  Or perhaps the throngs of GOP voters who are obviously sick and tired of the Establishment will just stay home the next presidential election cycle.

Any of these scenarios foretell doom for the Establishment, at least with respect to the presidency.  Perhaps it’s time for the Establishment to consider the possibility that the grass roots is simply leaving it behind. An ineffective, if not compliant Congress, both houses of which have been controlled by the Establishment led GOP, has rendered the faithful angry and looking for alternatives.  There’s no immediate reason to expect they’ll change their minds and embrace the Establishment so long as it stands for cronyism, corporatism and cooperation with Democrats in continuing the expansion of the Federal government and in ignoring the desires and demands of such a large portion of the Party.

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Civility, Lying And Ted Cruz

Much has been made of Ted Cruz’s comments from the floor of the Senate this past Friday.  In summation, the Export-Import Bank’s authorization expired on June 30, 2015.  Cruz, a critic of the Bank, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell assured him in May that McConnell had no “deal” with a group of senators who wanted to revive the bank in exchange for their votes on a trade bill.  On Friday, McConnell took steps to revive the bank, leading to Cruz’s comments from the floor.  “What we saw today was an absolute demonstration that not only what he told every Republican senator, but what he told the press over and over again was a simple lie.

What has followed since is nothing less than a circling of the wagons around McConnell, but few seem to be noticing it.  While so called “main stream”, corporatist republicans have taken to criticizing Cruz for his lack of decorum, the main stream media has focused entirely on the fact of Cruz’s comments rather than their merit.  Whether what Cruz said was appropriate is the question, not whether it was accurate and, if so, whether McConnell’s conduct should be scrutinized.  Cruz’s fellow republicans and the national media have made Cruz the focus of attention for his comments and have completely ignored the substance of the comments; McConnell’s conniving to revive the Bank.

At best, the Export-Import Bank is government meddling in free markets.  At worst, it is a conduit for corporate cronyism and the pre-selection of winners and losers by someone other than free market consumers.  That McConnell is playing fast and loose with the truth in his back room dealings in order to manipulate an effort to save the Bank illustrates the pull the likes of the Chamber of Commerce has with McConnell.

As for Cruz and the corporatist republican effort to discredit him, perhaps that wing of the party doesn’t understand that Senator Cruz has his own constituency and it does not consist of corporations who stand ready to make big campaign contributions in exchange for even bigger patronage and favoritism.  Senator Cruz’s constituency consists of individual citizens and he understands that their lives are always made better when the free market is left alone, unaffected and unmolested by special interests syphoning off patronage in the name of “promoting exports”.

Senator Orin Hatch’s comments are illustrative of the effort main stream republicans have made to discredit him.  “Squabbling and sanctimony may be tolerated on the campaign trail, but not in here.  We are not here on some frolic or to pursue personal ambitions. We are here because the people of the United States have entrusted us with the solemn responsibility to act on their behalf.  It is a sacred trust in which pettiness or grandstanding should have no part.

Talk about sanctimony!  One wonders whether Senator Hatch and the rest of Cruz’s detractors ever really consider their “sacred trust”.  Does Hatch think that honoring that trust requires a Senator to just keep quite when others scheme, connive and lie?  Perhaps Senator Hatch excuses such conduct so long as it occurs somewhere other than the Senate floor.  After all, that Cruz made his comments there rather than on the campaign trail seems to be the primary cause for Hatch’s concern.

This saga reflects so much of where we are as a society at large.  “Form over substance” is too often the rule; “reason” too often the exception.  Good intentions matter more than actions and results.  Pandering to the politically correct trumps objective reality.

  • A murder becomes a “hate crime” because of what motivated the perpetrator to violence.  The wrongfulness of the act of intentionally killing another human being is thereby made relative to the motivation of the perpetrator.  One who slays for money, or even to satisfy a twisted pleasure, is thereby judged by society as less culpable than one who slays in response to a twisted hatred.
  • Of course, “all lives matter”; but be careful where you say so, or else be prepared to apologize.
  • “He” must now be referred to as “she”, even though “he” is still objectively a male.
  • We must not profile for terrorists or criminals on the basis of race, gender, religion or anything else, even when we know as a matter of objective fact that members of a certain race, gender, religion, or anything else are the most likely perpetrators.

I suspect that what rankles so many about Ted Cruz is that he is decidedly not a “form over substance” guy and he won’t act as though he is.  He believes that actions and results matter more than good intentions and he won’t pretend otherwise to assuage anybody.  Objective reality greatly outweighs political correctness because he is a man of reason who values objective reality greatly and political correctness not at all.  Cruz is a man of principle, not expediency; and he is unwilling to compromise the first for the latter.

Perhaps Ted Cruz has calculated that many Americans value substance over form, results over intentions, and a demonstrable grasp of reality over a quivering deference to someone else’s notion of correct behavior and commentary.  Perhaps he believes that he and they together, might persuade still more American’s to those values.  Or perhaps he simply knows what he stands for.  In either case, he’s not likely to be silenced by adversaries pleading a loss of decorum when he judges so much more than decorum to be at stake.

As a subset of the same media that is ignoring the question of McConnell’s veracity and methods, the political pundits are unsurprisingly focusing on Cruz rather than McConnell, but their focus is obscured by virtue of looking through dual prisms. The first is the prism of the presidential election. They seem incapable of scrutinizing Cruz’s comments from any perspective other than considering his motives as they might relate to his candidacy for the presidency. The second is the prism of their own cynical echo chamber. Excepting only their consideration of leftist, statist politicians who promise “hope and change” or “the fundamental transformation of America”, it seems that once a journalist joins a national press corps, he is doomed to be blinded to any possibility that principles, rather than political expediency, might motivate the conduct of a politician. The national press, including the so called “conservative press” is missing the entire point of Ted Cruz as an elected official. He is standing for no less than a return to the original Constitution. For him, the principles of constitutionalism and real respect for popular sovereignty, like the principles of reason and objective reality, are not negotiable – not even in a run for the presidency. What a breath of fresh air. Here’s to a thousand more like him.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hillary Employing The Statist Playbook; Divide And Dupe To Gain Power

Hillary Clinton garnered praise from organized labor for backing New York’s increased minimum wage.  Organized labor is a special interest looking for its share of patronage from government.  Whether organized labor praises any policy position is not the question.  The question is, what does that policy position do for (or to) society at large.

It is illegitimate in a free society for government to use the force of law to modify what would otherwise be voluntary exchanges.  Consider; I am willing to work for you for $1 an hour.  I’ve judged it in my best interest to do so.  Otherwise, I would work elsewhere. 

You are willing to pay me $1 per hour and are satisfied with my services.  The government forces you to pay me $2 per hour and you say, “well, at least everyone else has to pay more too.  I’ve lost no comparative advantage.  But now my profits will suffer unless I raise prices.” 

What do you think you will do?  You will raise prices because you will lose no comparative advantage in doing so.  You know that everyone else who hires so called “minimum wage workers” will make the same decision to raise prices. 

However, later, when your customers decide to purchase less of your product, you will suffer.  Over time, you may realize your sales have decreased somewhat so you may reduce prices a bit in order to increase sales.  But your profit margin will then be lower than it was before the government mandate came into effect. 

Through this process, the immediate benefit of higher wages for me, is counterbalanced by your widely dispersed and far less identifiable lower profits and by higher prices for consumers.  Finally and ironically, those higher prices will end up neutralizing the original coerced pay raise.  Those who received the mandated pay increase have living expenses which must rise as well.  They are consumers, and no consumer is immune from the choice which must be made; pay more for the product or use less of it. 

The minimum wage is a ruse used by the political class to dupe voters, nothing else.  At the end of the day, the statist politicians get what they want…votes.  Everyone else is, at best, left in the same situation as before the mandate. 

In a free society, government has no business compelling the terms of voluntary transactions.  When it comes to the economy, we must demand that our elected officials “make it free and leave it be”.

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