My personal life is actually good. My daughters are doing very well in school and extracurriculars. I’m also about to get to return to one of my favorite places: a physical classroom. No more Zoom!
The sadness incidentally, stems from one reason I teach in the first place; debunking misinformation.
The latest sample came courtesy of a flyer I received from my congressman, Joaquin Castro. It was almost entirely coated, front and back, with misleading, disheartening blather, starting with the very first word of his very first talking point: “stimulus.”
Government has no money to dole out without first taking from productive citizens. It’s basically moving money from one pocket to another, losing some along the way to bureaucratic machinery.
It also has less of an “economic impact” than he claims thanks the myth that consumption equals growth. The only thing that grows is our toy collection, or my waistline when I eat Blue Bell ice cream.
Then there’s the opportunity cost.
That money would contribute to real prosperity if left in the hands of those more likely to save. The ensuing investment is a prerequisite for wealth-creation, which in turn creates jobs, attracts competition, and drives down prices for consumers.
This allows them to invest even more, assuming of course that the main source of inflation, a weak/unstable dollar, doesn’t scare them off.
That phenomena in health insurance is another thing the congressman says he’s tamed. No matter the type (auto, home, etc.), insurance by its very nature inflates prices.
When all you’re on the hook for at the doctor’s office is a nominal co-pay, are you likely to visit him more or less? The question answers itself. We pay very little beyond our monthly premium.
In fact, that premium tends to give us a sense of entitlement to those services. “I pay it, I might as well take advantage of it.” Demand rises further, doctors’ rates follow, and more providers enter the fray.
Insurance keeps paying, but since they’re not in the business of losing money, those premiums eventually go up. The cycle continues. Such is the nature of a third-party payer structure.
Enter government, subject to no competition, under no threat of going out of business, and, thanks to the creditworthiness of the aforementioned productive citizens, armed with a bottomless pit of cheaply borrowed dollars. The problems are exacerbated.
It’s one thing for Congressman Castro and his ilk to think they can bring all this under control by “doing something!” It’s yet another for them to brag about this deception.
It’s tantamount to constituent malpractice.
Being generally upbeat in tone though, the circular avoids pointing fingers at the usual suspects, like “the rich,” or Big Business. Rather, it tries to co-opt the little guy.
One of the great tragedies of last year was state and local elected officials and bureaucrats imposing house-arrest upon us. To add insult to injury, their national brethren tried to buy us off.
While some businesses and workers were anointed as “essential,” others weren’t so fortunate. Congressman Castro hopes $122 million to “revitalize small businesses” and “help family-owned restaurants” will make them forget.
The cynic would say that this is merely the latest display of a political pandemic. How low is politicians’ regard for those with the fortitude to strike out on their own?
They throw around words like “invest” as if they’re wise market participants. On one hand, they try to appear as compassionate representatives applying medicine and a bandage to whomever is ailing.
At the same time, the other hand is continually stabbing and poisoning the wound.
The mailer crash-lands with a flurry of “achievements” that are oblivious to perverse incentives, unintended consequences and moral hazard.
Mark J. Perry, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, regularly puts out what he calls the “Chart of the Century.” It shows price changes of various goods and services since the year 2000.
Hovering at or below 0% is, among others, furniture, cellphone services and TVs, the latter of which are a particular favorite of mine in class.
My students are well aware of the price trajectory of the tube. It’s the result of competition proceeding mostly unobstructed by government interference. Higher quality usually follows as well.
Starting at the 60% inflation rate are the costs of college, child care and medical care. Coincidentally, those are included as examples of the congressman “working hard … with President Biden on investments to grow the economy.”
Only in government do “investments” ignite higher prices and lower quality. The “hard work” of Congressman Castro’s predecessors pushed all those services into the red, and his purported diligence will deliver more of the same.
Rather than squeezing the American taxpayer to “invest $613 million” in education, he could do more for the intellectual enlightenment, and well-being of the citizens of Texas-20, by not peddling such erroneous propaganda.
What’s sad is that the local mainstream media will let him get away with it.
One outlet has more confidence in central planners’ ability to make their numbers work than they respect that of risk-taking entrepreneurs to create wealth. Another one will turn away efforts to counter such activism if you don’t “cultivate” your own ideas for government intervention.
Like those on the national level, the local MSM rail against misinformation, as they should. When they restrict opposing views however, they open themselves up to becoming complicit in it.
That many of the stifled analyses and opinions are rooted in freedom is the most depressing of all.
Christopher E. Baecker works in fixed assets at Patterson UTI, teaches economics at Northwest Vista College, is the policy director at InfuseSA, a board member of the Institute for Objective Policy Assessment, and a former candidate for San Antonio city council. He can be reached via email or Facebook.