Sunday, May 21, 2017

A thought for Sunday: the Left is winning the battle of ideas. The right's own man says so

 - by New Deal democrat

Prof. Arnold Kling, a conservative neoclassical economist who has taught at George Mason University and been affiliated with the Cato Institute, has a post up this morning in which he  reflects upon whether he has changed his mind about anything in view of developments over the last sum of years.  His reply is a notable bellwether:
I think that in general I have become more pessimistic about American political culture .... 
.... What has [ ] transpired ...... from college campuses [is a] view that capitalism is better than socialism, which I think belongs in the mainstream, seems to be on the fringe. Meanwhile, the intense, deranged focus on race and gender, which I think belongs on the fringe, seems to be mainstream..... 
.... The Overton Window on health policy has moved to where health insurance is a government responsibility. The Overton Window on deficit spending and unfunded liabilities has moved to where there is no political price to be paid for running up either current debts or future obligations. The Overton Window on financial policy has moved to where nobody minds that the Fed and other agencies are allocating credit, primarily toward government bonds and housing finance. The Overton Window on the Administrative State has moved to where it is easier to mount a Constitutional challenge against an order to remove regulations than against regulatory agency over-reach.
I would call that a good start. 
That being said, as usual I expect progress will be made one funeral at a time, as the deep, deep red Silent Generation (and primary Fox News demographic) passes this mortal coil.
A postscript. Kling concludes by writing:
Outside of the realm of politics, things are not nearly so bleak. Many American businesses and industries are better than ever, and they keep improving. Scientists and engineers come up with promising ideas.
I wonder if it occurs to him that these sentences completely undercut his ideology.  After all, if evil government regulation kills innovation, well, obviously, despite the shifts in the Overton Window to the left, that obviously isn't happening, is it?
Furthermore, if that innovation has been happening during the period of time that the Brookings Institution found, via comprehensive Social Security wage data, that workers from 1983 on made only 1% more in real terms over their entire 30 year prime age careers than the workers who entered their prime earnings age in 1957, then that innovation has not translated into *any* significant increase in the well-being of average Americans over virtually their entire working lifetimes. That is a thoroughgoing and decisive failure, well worth being replaced.