Thursday, May 21, 2015

"In short, the Clintons are nothing without the wealth inequality they claim to disdain. It’s the sole source of their power. The swagger of the world’s foremost political couple was taken from someone else."

Bill And Hillary Clinton Rob Inequality Of Its Unrelenting Beauty

John Tamny

In a McDonald’s recently, a witnessed interview between the restaurant’s manager and a potential new hire was striking for its economic significance. At one point the manager went back behind the counter to help with a surge of customers, at which time the interviewee took out her mobile phone to send texts, read e-mails, check Facebook…

Interesting about what took place is that 35 years ago cellphones were non-existent. Worse, as the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Bill Frezza regularly reminds those lucky enough to hear him speak, in the 1970s wall-mounted telephones were illegal to own. If you wanted a phone your only option was to rent it from the federal government’s approved telephone monopoly.

Thirty years ago mobile phones were finally available, but only the superrich owned them. That was true because the purchase of a brick-sized phone with ½ hour of battery life, terrible reception, and highly limited calling range set the wealthy few back $3,995. If you had the temerity to call San Diego from Los Angeles with any frequency your monthly bill was measured in the hundreds of dollars. Nowadays McDonald’s applicants can cheaply call anywhere around the country on phones with capabilities that would have floored the richest technology billionaires, Hollywood movie producers and Connecticut hedge fund managers no more than five years ago.

The above is of course the norm in societies defined by personal and economic freedom. What the rich initially enjoy exclusively merely signals what we’ll all eventually enjoy if the economy is left alone. It’s forever been this way, and the evidence is all around us.

The ‘Mansion’ section of a recent Wall Street Journal featured a ‘car garage’ for sale as an apartment on East 73rd Street in Manhattan. As the Journal noted about the $50 million Beaux-Arts structure, it “was built around 1905, when only the elite had cars.” Henry Ford grew very rich making the Ford Model T accessible to the non-rich; Ford’s cars powered by gasoline made broadly available by the richest man of all time, John D. Rockefeller.

Fast forward to the present, an overnight stay at supposedly down market lodging chains like Motel 6 includes not just air conditioning, but a flat screen television in each room. In the year 2000 a ‘’50 flat-screen television cost $20,000, and even the rooms at luxury chains like the Four Seasons were bereft of them. There’s a detectable pattern here.

Specifically, the ‘wealth inequality’ decried by clueless economists and opportunistic politicians has been mis-named. What’s a pejorative is unrelentingly beautiful. The “rising wealth inequality” that reduces economists, pundits and politicians to puddles of emotion should be properly renamed “surging lifestyle equality” with an eye on calming their rage. Put more simply, the inequality that horrifies self-proclaimed deep thinkers is the wondrous process whereby entrepreneurs turn the former luxuries of the rich into everyday items. To be blunt, a world without wealth inequality would be one marked by excessive deprivation.

All of which brings us to the latest news about Bill and Hillary Clinton. According to numerous media accounts the formidable political couple has earned at least $30 million in speaking fees since 2014. The Clintons are maybe who President Obama had in mind when he famously said “You didn’t build that.”

The Clintons are extraordinarily rich not because Bill discovered a cure for cancer, or because Hillary has a knack for resuscitating companies that are on the proverbial deathbed, because both are expert as Ford, Rockefeller and Steve Jobs were at mass producing former baubles of the rich, or even because they were born well. No, the Clintons are rich for having been wise enough to make a profession of politics in what is the richest, most innovative country on earth. Without a hint of hyperbole, the wealth they enjoy is a function of their pull within a federal government that is empowered to tax away trillions on an annual basis. The Clintons are posh and supercilious, but their grand posture is directly attributable to the political class’s ability to plunder the actual wealth of America’s truly productive.

The Clinton’s millions are the result of government force, and those millions rob inequality of its life-enhancing beauty. While rising wealth inequality in the world of free markets is once again a sign of entrepreneurs shrinking the lifestyle gap, Clinton-style inequality is rooted in the political ability to influence the direction of economic resources created by others, but that were expropriated by the federal government.

To be fair to the Clintons, they’re hardly alone. This isn’t a Democrat or Republican thing. It’s a national politics thing. Politicians claim to enter what is nowadays a profession with ‘public service’ in mind, but as their soaring net worth in and out office plainly reveals, men and women enter politics in the U.S. to get rich. As evidenced by their earnings, the Clintons are simply the best at a game played by Democrats and Republicans alike. Maybe an unsung reason why Americans despise politicians so much has to do with intuitive knowledge that their arrogance is entirely unearned.

Bill Clinton is by most accounts an accomplished speaker, both Bill and Hillary are presumably very book smart, but if they weren’t born in the U.S. such that they could play U.S. politics at the highest of levels, no one would presently pay them six and seven figures for their speeches. The Clintons oddly decry the very inequality that creates a taxable bonanza each year for the federal government, and this is odd simply because the resulting federal spending is the undeniable source of all the fawning treatment they receive from people who are always ‘fascinated’ by what they have to say on the stump. Reduced to the basics, there aren’t many rich people in Bangladesh, and as a result there aren’t many influential people seeking favor with their politicians. Politicians from Bangladesh are for some strange reason not as interesting or insightful as are American politicians. They’re also not as rich….There’s no bustling, ritzy, K Street equivalent in Dhaka.

Hillary Clinton’s decision to make her presidential campaign about the alleged horrors of inequality despite her and Bill’s many millions has her being labeled by many as a hypocrite. Fair enough, but this amounts to shooting fish in the most crowded of barrels.

What’s most bothersome is that Hillary would bash the very inequality that has made it possible for her and Bill to be prominent global figures, and by extension wildly rich global figures. If not for the immense taxable wealth in the U.S., and the Clintons’ ability to influence its direction around the world, very few would give them the time of day.

In short, the Clintons are nothing without the wealth inequality they claim to disdain. It’s the sole source of their power. The swagger of the world’s foremost political couple was taken from someone else.


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