Back in December, President-Elect Donald Trump visited the Carrier plant in Indiana. He had just used government-sponsored crony capitalism to convince Carrier to maintain a few hundred jobs in the state, and he was there to mark his dubious achievement. He explained, “Corporate America is going to have to understand that we have to take care of our workers also.” His vice president, Mike Pence, then piped up, “The free market has been sorting it out and America’s been losing. Every time, every time.”
Bernie Sanders didn’t win the battle, but he clearly won the war.
He never could have won the war without President Trump. Trump’s embrace of government cramdowns and giveaways has now corrupted supposed conservative thoughtleaders down to the bone. Take, for example, Tucker Carlson, who is blowing out the ratings in primetime at Fox News, and who will now be taking over Bill O’Reilly’s coveted timeslot. On Tuesday evening, he hosted billionaire Mark Cuban. Cuban made the capitalist case that free flow of labor is necessary in order to strengthen the economy and generate better goods and services at competitive prices – Economics 101.
Here’s Carlson’s counter, defending President Trump’s economically illiterate strategy of tariffs, subsidies, and bans on employment for immigrants: “There are many in betweens … Would you apply market forces to your family, to your marriage? Capitalism is not a religion, it’s an effective way of generating wealth … I like capitalism, but when it hurts Americans, I’m willing to make adjustments. Wouldn’t you be?”
This is fully idiotic. Marriage is a voluntary commitment between two people, without government compulsion. What in the world does that have to do with government intrusions into the free market?
It is a mistake to think of capitalism as a mere system that is effective at distributing wealth. Capitalism means economic liberty. Freedom is a principle worth fighting for, and economic liberty is worth fighting for. It is not up to Tucker Carlson or Donald Trump or anybody else to tell you what to do with your money, or to reshift the economy on behalf of helping particular sets of Americans. This is called redistributionism. It is soft socialism.
And yet Breitbart News, too, is pushing this nonsense. In a piece hilariously titled, “The Libertarian Case For Donald Trump’s ‘Buy American’ Order,” John Carney writes:
[T]oday’s critics of trade orthodoxy are so far removed from those of the past that perhaps we shouldn’t call them “protectionists” at all. Let’s call them what they are, economic nationalists….It is altogether possible that one may prefer lower living standards in favor of a more humane distribution of wealth or a government procurement policy that recycles dollars taxed and borrowed back into the domestic economy.
The first part of this is patently untrue. The latter part is straight from Karl Marx’s handbook. There can be no more “humane distribution of wealth” under a libertarian system of government than the free market, since all other distributions require government force. There is no freedom-based case for the government taxing and spending your cash on its priorities, or barring you from engaging in free trade with other people in other countries or hiring people from other countries to do a job. That is a violation of your freedom.
But we don’t care about freedom anymore in economics. We only care about Economic Nationalism (through the same methods embraced by the Left)! We only care about Making America Great Again (through destroying basic American notions of liberty)! We only care about whether freedom “hurts Americans” (and if it does, get rid of the freedom)!
We are all socialists now. And we’ll laugh along with Tucker Carlson as economic freedom diminishes under the guise of insincere flag-waving.