Andrew Napolitano, Capital Gains Tax, central planning, Clinton renewable energy plan, Friedrich Hayek, Half a billion solar panels, Hillary Clinton, Hillarycare, Ira Stoll, Jeffrey Tucker, Larry Kudlow, Obamacare employer mandate
Hillary Clinton is an advocate for governmentalizing the social order, and asks America to trust that central control, under her command, will accomplish great things such as upward mobility for the middle class, a rising standard of living, green energy for all, a “fix” for Obamacare, and much else. Jeffrey Tucker writes of Hillary’s delusions in “Hillary Clinton’s Ideological Vortex of Power and Planning” and her assurances that she’ll take measures with predictable impacts on the global climate, measures that will direct all details of energy production and use.
Tucker throws cold water on Hillary’s promises by viewing them in the context of F.A. Hayek warnings about the ruinous effects of central planning and control:
“That brilliant economist spent 50 years explaining, in book after book, that the greatest danger humanity faced, now and always, was a presumption on the part of intellectuals, politicians, and bureaucrats that they know better than the emergent and evolving wisdom of social forces.
This presumption might seem like science but it is really pretense. Civilization arises from, is protected by, and advances through the dispersed knowledge of billions of individual decision makers and the institutions that arise from them.
Hayek called the issue he was investigating the knowledge problem. Society needs to know how to use scarce resources, how to navigate a world of uncertainty, how to form rules that turn struggle into peace. It is a problem solved through freedom alone. No ruler, no scientist, no intellectual can substitute for the evolving process of decentralized decision making and trial and error.“
I discussed the fatuous presumptions of the left in an earlier SCC post entitled: “Conscious Design, the Collective Mind and Social Decline“. In that post, I used the wonderful Hayek quote:
“We flatter ourselves undeservedly if we represent human civilization as entirely the product of conscious reason or as the product of human design, or when we assume that it is necessarily in our power deliberately to re-create or to maintain what we have built without knowing what we were doing.“
More specifically, on energy policy, Clinton says she will set an agenda for the country to produce enough renewable energy within 10 years to power every American home, and to install half a billion solar panels across the country by the end of her first term. As Ira Stoll says at Reason.com, this is “central planning at its worst“.
“Clinton assumes that man-made climate change is a risk serious enough to try to mitigate, and that America should try to mitigate it by reducing its carbon emissions. These are big ‘ifs,’ but ones I will grant for argument’s sake. Even granting those assumptions, there is a humongous logical leap to the conclusion that the appropriate policy response is setting a national target for the number of solar panels installed.
For one thing, it’s a classic error of measuring inputs rather than outputs. If the goal is the reduction of dangerous emissions, why not set a goal for that, and support any energy method—solar, wind, algae, hydroelectric, nuclear, hydrofracturing—that gets America closer to that goal? Why privilege solar over all the other technologies, including some that may not even be invented yet?“
Certainly, proposals like this create tremendous opportunities for rewarding cronies. Stoll also notes that solar technology will improve over time, but rushing to install millions of panels, undoubtedly encouraged by heavy subsidies, would saddle users in the long-term with less efficient versions. With future improvements in efficiency and cost, the technology will gradually draw users in without the need for subsidies. That’s what rational economic decision-making looks like!
A specific economic proposal from the Clinton camp would increase the capital gains tax rate on asset sales held from 364 days up to six years. The rate would double if the asset was held up to two years. The increases become gradually smaller for two-to-six year holding periods. Hillary’s is somehow unaware that the government has already made it incredibly difficult for businesses to raise capital to invest in new buildings, equipment, and technology. Capital gains taxes are punitive: they represent double taxation of income to investors and they further distort rates of return by taxing assets on inflationary increases in value, which diminish their real value. Larry Kudlow wrote a good opinion piece on this proposal, called “Hillary’s Inconceivably Stupid Capital-Gains Tax Scheme“. He focuses on Hillary’s attack on the alleged “short-termism” in the economy, but this is a little odd, because her plan essentially discourages saving.
On health care, Clinton has pledged to “improve” Obamacare, but not repeal it. Too bad. It is similar to the plan she put forward as a Senator, including the individual mandate. The only piece of good news here is that she has discussed eliminating the employer mandate, which has been deferred by the Obama Administration twice already. However, some effects of the employer mandate have been felt, as it has tended to discourage employers from taking on full-time employees.
On foreign policy, Clinton is probably more hawkish than President Obama. Her stint as Obama’s Secretary of State was not marked by any noteworthy accomplishment.
Then there is the question of Clinton’s integrity. She’s been tainted by scandals before (e.g., Whitewater). She told a Brian Williams-like lie about being fired upon in Bosnia. The role of the Clinton Foundation, and whether it served as a mechanism for influence-buying, has also been in question, not to mention its seeming role as a personal slush fund for the Clintons. Her ties to Wall Street probably exceed Obama’s. And she maintained a private email server while Secretary of State, which was imprudent at best, and depending on the the classification of what went through that server, criminal at worst. Finally, her involvement in the Benghazi tragedy has been in question from the beginning. On some events related to Benghazi, including Hillary’s potential involvement in suspicious arms trading activity, Andrew Napolitano insists that “Hillary Keeps Lying“.
And here is Jeffrey Tucker waxing sarcastic about Hillary in another context: “Just trust her. Truly, just trust her …”