Thursday, November 12, 2015

(unpublished) letter to the editor (and Ricky Jones) on his op-ed about Sanders

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.

Somehow, Jones 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)?

Economic markets and market participants are far from perfect. But if political markets are heavily involved, let’s make sure to allocate blame where it belongs.

Sincerely yours,


At November 12, 2015 at 11:40 AM , Blogger Andy Horning said...

As people get complacent and governments grow, cronyism becomes a destructive monster. Labels like socialism and capitalism, I think, render too-abstract the very real problem of too much power in too few hands making a huge problem.
I think all of us now see the problem, but we diverge on who's to blame, and therefore, who must fix it.
The left tend to blame the people who bought-out our government, while the right tends to blame (though rather tepidly) who sold-out our government. So the left thinks more government is the solution, while the right thinks more ...well...everything but government is the solution.
But focusing on all the buying and selling of our power, influence, money and rights misses the real problem. We The People chose this. We complain about it, but we reelect it over 90% of the time.
We allowed too much power to get into political hands. That power is inevitably for sale, and there are always people who would like to buy, or at least rent, all that power.
What do we do about that? How do we get people to see that there's just too much heavily-armed power in the hands of too few people?


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