Author Topic: More Populist, More Conservative  (Read 203 times)

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Online EasyAce

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More Populist, More Conservative
« on: January 11, 2019, 02:47:37 PM »
A debate about where the Right should go from here is the right one.
By Mike Lee

Conservatives on both sides of Tucker Carlson’s broadside against America’s elite last week should be grateful he launched it. In the wake of President Trump’s surprise victory in 2016 and Republicans’ loss of the House of Representatives in 2018, a debate about where the Right ought to go from here is the one we all need to be having . . .

. . . Carlson is . . . right that there is an opportunity gap between America’s elite and everyone else; that those elites have the power to improve this situation; and that they choose not to do so, for reasons ranging from obliviousness to selfishness. I have made many of the same arguments over the years.

On the other hand, many of Carlson’s conservative and libertarian critics score some points, too. First, they caution Carlson against a populism that infantilizes the poor and working class and excuses them from moral agency and responsibility for their decisions. And second, they rise to defend market capitalism from a false politics of demagogic grievance. Market capitalism is not “a religion,” as Carlson said, but it is still the greatest engine of prosperity and opportunity ever devised by man, and conservatives should not abandon it simply because more of the economy’s recent losers happen now to be Republican voters . . .

. . . It’s not the free market that is financializing the American economy and empowering Wall Street’s leveraged buyouts of American businesses. It’s the federal government’s preferential tax treatment of corporate debt and guarantee of “too big to fail” bailouts.

It’s not the “invisible hand” giving investment income preferential tax treatment over workers’ wages, even though in a globalized economy that discrepancy can incentivize American investors to create jobs overseas instead of here.

It’s not Adam Smith who simultaneously ended vocational tracking in American high schools while flooding college campuses with students and borrowed dollars that would have been better off elsewhere. Nor did Milton Friedman make it unprofitable for residential real-estate developers to build anything other than mid-rise apartments and McMansions. That’s federal and state policymakers . . .

. . . However well (or ill) intentioned, these policies have subtly but inexorably rigged the American economy, privileging elites at everyone else’s expense. The real problem is not market capitalism but the failure of our political class to adapt with it — its refusal to reform outdated public policies to harness the forces of globalization to the commonweal of all Americans . . . Down the road, conservatives and populists may disagree about when and if that ever means putting government’s thumb on the scale for working families. But surely we can at least start by taking its boot off their neck.

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