Misplaced Anger with Trump
by Jacob G. Hornberger
The common perception is that people are gravitating toward Donald Trump because they’re angry. They’re angry with President Obama. They’re angry with Congress. They’re angry with the Supreme Court. They’re angry that Washington, D.C., is “broken.” They want it fixed and they figure that someone who comes across as anti-establishment is going to fix it. In Trump’s case, there are undoubtedly people thinking that a successful businessman can be the one to finally fix Washington.
It’s not going to happen, for two reasons: the welfare state and the national-security state, the two apparatuses that 20th-century Americans grafted onto our original constitutional structure in the 1930s and 1940s and which became a permanent part of America’s governmental system and economic system.
Notice that the mainstream media never ask people the specifics as to why they’re angry. They just settle for empty bromides like “I’m angry because Washington, D.C., is broken.”
Everyone knows that the national debt keeps getting larger and larger. While there are still a few people around who claim that the national debt isn’t any big deal, the average person knows better. He knows that too much debt in his personal life is a bad thing. He knows that too much federal government debt is a bad thing. He reads about what has happened to Greece and Puerto Rico, both of which are mired in financial and economic crises due to too much debt.
And then there are the perpetual crises regarding the unfunded liabilities — programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, education grants, corporate bailouts, and other welfare-state programs. They are not part of the national debt because they are welfare programs and, therefore, theoretically could be legally repealed today. Nonetheless, as long as these welfare-state programs are continued, the money is owed, just as if it was listed as a debt on the federal government’s balance sheet. And those amounts are skyrocketing every day.
People are finally figuring out that there isn’t a trust fund to pay for the principal and interest on the national debt or to pay for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education grants, farm subsidies, foreign aid, and all the other welfare-state programs. They’re figuring out that the only way to pay for these things is through taxation, including the indirect tax of inflation, which is collected by the Federal Reserve through monetary debasement.
Taxpayers are angry because they’re afraid that they’re going to have to pay higher taxes. Dole recipients are angry because they’re afraid someone is going to take away their dole. The taxpayers are fighting hard to protect their income and wealth from being taken from them. The dole recipients are fighting hard to have their dole continued and even expanded.
And then there is the other side of the equation — the national security state — i.e., the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA. That’s also costing the American people an ever-growing fortune. The soldiers, contractors, suppliers, oil sellers, bomb-makers, ammunition suppliers, weapons manufacturers, and all the other people who are part of the “military-industrial complex” have to be paid.
Even worse, the national-security state apparatus continues to provoke crises all over the world, which ensures that Americans will be kept agitated and afraid. Of course, that’s where the welfare state helps out — it tends to keep people mollified and calm, much as heroin does.
Oh, let’s not forget the drug war, the gigantic industry on which judges, clerks, prosecutors, lawyers, cops, sheriffs, DEA agents, and prison officials depend for their livelihood. They’re not going to work for free.
And the regulated society. The thousands of federal regulators need to be paid too. That includes the Federal Reserve people, the bank regulators, the customs inspectors, the SEC employees, the border patrol, and many, many more. They all have to be paid.
The fact is that the entire system is out of control, besieged by perpetual crises that are only getting worse by the day. Everyone knows it. And people are angry because no one is making it work.
But the real problem is not in Washington but rather among the American people, including those angry voters who are gravitating to Trump. Except for libertarians, Americans believe in socialism, interventionism, militarism, and imperialism. They’re just angry because they haven’t been able to find a political savior to make these isms work. It hasn’t occurred to them that they themselves are responsible for the mess that they’re so angry about. Rather than confront their own beliefs, they continue their fruitless quest to find someone who is finally, after almost 100 years of failure, going to make their isms work.
Look at ethanol. It’s a socialist-interventionist scheme to provide a dole to Iowan farmers. Everyone in America is forced to pay higher prices for gasoline and corn because of the ethanol dole for farmers in Iowa.
But are Iowans ready to let go of their dole? Not on your life! Any presidential candidate who dares to suggest that this particular dole be terminated comes under immediate attack by the political establishment and mainstream media in Iowa. “We have a right to our dole! We are dependent on it. Our survival and well-being depend on it. Our economy depends on it.”
It’s the same with every other dole program — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, education grants, and all the rest. Nobody wants to repeal any welfare-state program that gives him a dole. The recipients claim to have a right to other people’s money.
It’s no different with respect to the national-security state. The Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA have convinced Americans that this Cold War-era apparatus is absolutely essential to their safety and security. It protects them from the ever-changing array of new official enemies, which the national-security state produces with its imperialist and interventionist policies.
Heaven help any candidate who would ever call for dismantling this Cold War totalitarian-like monstrosity. “We have a right to our military dole! National security is at stake! Don’t even think about it.”
The welfare state way of life and the national-security state way of life have proven to be a bust, both morally and economically. They have produced decades of nothing but death, destruction, impoverishment, and misery. And it’s only going to get worse, regardless of who is elected president.
That’s why people are angry. Their system just hasn’t turned out the way they thought it would. Rather than direct their anger toward Washington and rather than looking for scapegoats, like Muslims and illegal immigrants, Americans would be better off engaging in self-examination and asking why they continue to believe in socialism, interventionism, militarism, and imperialism, especially given that the Founding Fathers and our American ancestors rejected them all.