Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Statism Is Statism

A lot of conservative pundits have been (correctly) calling Obama and his liberal cohorts' economic polices as "statist" policies. And they are statist policies, make no mistake, but I don't think these conservative pundits could recognize statist policies in their own kind. It's a kind of party-blindness in many cases.

Right now, many conservative writers, broadcasters, and television entertainers have been criticizing the Obama administration's economic policies. Yet many of them seem to forget that these policies were largely the same under President George W. Bush. The only real difference is the length of time where Obama sought out a shorter timeframe and thus has spent more money in a shorter period of time than our previous President.

For example, President Bush decided that no child should be left behind. This is a costly endeavor, especially when the money starts at the top-level of government and has to trickle down to the classroom (trickle down economics only works in the private sector). He also implemented the largest expansion to welfare health-care since President Lyndon Baines Johnson. While neither has cost Americans as much as Obama has, it will cost us greatly in the long term.

From the beginning there is one word to describe President Bush's economic policies: statism. It is the predominant economic policy of the United States and has been since the Reconstruction Era, although not as heavy-handed then as it is today. Statism is any economic policy that features the government having a major role, in some fashion, in the economic development of a country. Granted, it is nearly impossible for a government to be completely independent of a nation's economy (similar to a camel passing through the eye of a needle), but there has yet to be a Presidential administration in the past century or so, who has embraced a non-statist economic policy. The late great Reagan came close, and probably was the greatest President in the last century when it comes to economic policy. Even he failed, however, to address some underlying problems with our economic system.

So while conservatives will constantly criticize the Obama administration's economic policies, I didn't hear too much criticism of Bush's own policies, at least in terms of the economic impact they would have. For example, Rush Limbaugh was more concerned about President Bush's willingness to work with Democrats on education than addressing the true reason for our nation's failed education policies: a lack of competition in the market. Likewise, with the banking system failing, not many conservatives have been addressing the root problem: a central banking system that prints fiat currency. Such a system of banking is suicidal for any banking industry, much like welfare is financially suicidal for the poor.

The economic policies of Washington, D.C. have not been geared toward capitalism at all. Congress always looks to itself to solve the problems of the nation instead of looking at the United States Constitution and determining what they are permitted to do. I constantly joke to fellow conservatives on posting forums that the Constitution is no barrier to the will of Congress. This is definitely true when it comes to economic policy, where Congress, the President, and the courts constantly overstep their boundaries as written by a bunch of white slaveowners (I like to call them the Founding Fathers, but that's not cool right now) and the American people, by and large, don't seem to notice. This goes for many conservatives as well who overlook the glaring economic contradictions that Democrats and Republicans both implement.

The bottom line here is that conservatives are quick to equate Socialism with statism but neglect to mention that fascist economic policies (where private ownership is permitted, unless the interests of the state override it) were predominant in the previous administration. And statism is statism, no matter what form it takes, be it Socialism, Fascism, or some weird combination of the two.