It’s been awhile since the C-J printed one of my
op-eds or one of my "letters to the editor" (including this one). Oh well...
In his recent op-ed praising Bernie Sanders as a visionary, Professor Ricky Jones correctly describes
Sanders as more of a socialist than most politicians. But Jones incorrectly
describes our economy as “capitalistic”. Instead, the American economic system
is a relatively consistent mix of capitalism, socialism, and crony capitalism.
For example, both Presidents Bush and Obama have advocated this mixture,
although with somewhat different recipes.
Economic markets are certainly a key feature of American life. But the
government runs some key industries and is deeply immersed in others—K-12 and higher education, health care/insurance (70 years of
subsidies, Medicare/Medicaid, countless regulations, etc.), labor market
interventions, international trade restrictions, farming policies, Social
Security, and so on.
and many others are prone to blame “capitalism”, when there’s clearly much more
at play. Ironically, Sanders’ areas of greatest complaint are areas of massive
government involvement—the criminal justice system, education, and health care.
Even Jones’ concerns about unemployment and underemployment can be strongly
connected to government policy: What else can one expect if the government
busily pays people to be unemployed; makes it more costly to hire people
(through mandates on pay and benefits); and encourages firms to hire part-time
workers (with the ACA)?
and market participants are far from perfect. But if political markets are
heavily involved, let’s make sure to allocate blame where it belongs.