Professor Walter Block may be the dean of libertarian thinkers and his yeoman work for the cause over the decades can’t be gainsaid. But when it comes to grasping the fraught political forces at large at the present historical juncture and the real significance of the 2020 election, the good professor is wearing some pretty opaque blinders.
In a recent Wall Street Journal post he chastises libertarians who voted their principles for Jo Jorgensen in the purple (swing) states of Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania, claiming that her vote totals exceeded Biden’s (apparent) tiny margin in these states and thereby put Sleepy Joe and his alleged Jacobin puppeteers in the Oval Office.
I figured Ms. Jorgenson for 0.25%. She now looks on track to exceed Mr. Clark’s (1980) percentage slightly—and hand the presidency to Mr. Biden. Pardon me while I beat my head against the wall. How could libertarians in purple states be so stupid?
No, libertarian voters in these states were actually doing god’s work by supplying the crucial votes that defeated Donald Trump.
And Trump’s defeat was the single most important thing which could happen in 2020. It keeps alive the small hope that the Republican Party can be purged of Trumpian right-wing statism and revert once again to its historic role as the Opposition Party, espousing the old time Robert Taftian religion of sound money, fiscal rectitude, free markets, federalism, small government and nonintervention abroad—against the Government Party of the Dems, which by dint of the opposite principles threatens to smoother liberty and prosperity in America once and for all.
Stated differently, bad money and fiscal libertinism are the root of all statist evil. The systematic falsification of financial asset prices and massive monetization of the public debt by the central bank is what generates anti-wealth populism among the electorate and euthanizes elected politicians about the dangers of soaring public debt and deficit finance.
In turn, the resulting fiscal hall pass, which has taken the public debt from $5 trillion to $27 trillion during the first two decades of this century alone, is the very handmaid of Leviathan. For example, there would be no $1.2 trillion per year American Empire (counting DOD, foreign operations, veterans comp and interest on war debt) if all the pointless wars and interventions since WWII had been required to be financed by war taxes rather than borrowing and money printing.
Likewise, at the present moment the calamity of Lockdown Nation and stay-at-home quarantine orders, which have cost trillions in lost wealth and liberty, would never have happened if the $3.2 trillion string of Everything Bailouts which made them tolerable to the public had not been enacted with such alacrity.
As it happened, this overnight explosion of public spending, which took Federal-state-local government outlays to a very “socialist” 56% of GDP during Q2, did not involve an iota of political pain. There were no “Covid-relief taxes” enacted to pay for it, nor any sweeping spending re-allocations away from programs and constituencies near and dear to the Congress.
It was just borrow and print. Full stop.
That’s the real reason why $525 billion of PPP handouts to 5.25 million small business—some real, many fake and most undeserving—were funded without debate or even a modicum of anti-fraud rules; it’s also why $260 billion of $1200 per capita helicopter checks went out to 160 million households including those earning up to $200,000 per year; and it’s the reason that the Federal UI top-up benefit of $600 be week, enacted without hearings or even a smidgen of analysis, raised the average combined Federal/state unemployment benefit in much of the nation to $57,000 annualized—a level which exceeded previously earned wages for 70% of recipients.
To be sure, when the evil Tony Fauci and his camarilla of malpracticing doctors and apparatchiks came to the Donald in mid-March with their plan for a two-week lockdown and the dissemination of the Covid-Plague-Hysteria to the American public, his scant regard for liberty and the dangers of expanding state power would have been no barrier to their importunings.
The Donald doesn’t have a clue about conservative economic principles and doesn’t care: The greater glorification of his own Brobdingnagian ego was and remains his only compass.
Still, the prospect of throwing tens of millions of voters out of work and millions of (mostly Republican) small businesses up against the wall would have been unthinkable to even the Donald if the subsequent trillions worth of make-wholes, indemnifications and free stuff could not have been funded virtually overnight via the US Treasury’s massive borrowing and the instantaneous Fed monetization of the resulting flood of supply into the bond pits.
In short, we got the statist nightmare of Lockdown Nation and the Virus Patrol’s marauding destruction of jobs, businesses and livelihoods because the Donald sanctioned it, and because decades of GOP default on sound money and fiscal rectitude left him an opening to launch a sheer bacchanalia of government borrowing and money-printing.
So the essence of the 2020 election was always this: It presented an eleventh hour opportunity for the resurrection of a genuine conservative Opposition Party, which is the sine qua non for avoidance of statist disaster and the end of constitutional liberty and capitalist prosperity as we have known it.
Yet the latter is the inexorable outcome so long as American democracy is in the clutches of the traditional Government Party of the Dems operating in cahoots with the rightwing Government Party of careerist, Washington-based Republican PAC-money grubbing pols who have come to embrace a toxic Trumpian brew of fiscal incontinence and monetary madness.
Needless to say, there would be no chance of a conservative Opposition Party worthy of the name if the GOP were to be terminally poisoned with four more years of Donald Trump’s absolutely destructive, and we’d dare say, demented, views with respect to the central bank and the public debt. These horrendous positions outweigh everything else including court appointments and jousting with woke progressives over the 1619 Project’s besmirchment of American history, and by a country mile.
Trump’s ham-handed attacks on the Fed for even its tepid attempt to normalize interest rates and its balance sheet last year and his cheerleading for the absolute lunacy of $3 trillion worth of bond-buying during the 90-days after green-lighting Dr. Fauci reign of economic terror in mid-March are beyond the pale. So with the Donald in control of the GOP, the prospect that Republicans would ever come to their senses about the absolute abomination of what is, in effect, rogue Keynesian central banking at the Fed would have remained somewhere between slim and none.
Likewise, no modern president has ever spent money and borrowed at the gratuitous rates recorded under the Donald’s fiscal proligacy of the last 46 months.
For want of doubt, here is the spending growth rate for all of the presidential terms since 1960. Only Jimmy Carter came close to the Donald’s 15.7% per annum rate of gain and Carter’s 12.0% figure was bloated with about 4X more annual inflation than the Donald’s sorry number; and all of the other figures for presidential terms cited below also occurred during periods of higher inflation, meaning that in real terms the Donald is the hands down government spending champion of all time.
That’s right. The run rate of Federal outlays in Q4 2016 was $4.18 trillion, a figure which clocked in $3.1 trillion higher at $7.22 trillion in Q3 2020.
That spending explosion caused the public debt to soar from $19.9 trillion to $27. 1 trillion—meaning that this $7+ trillion gain was equal to the total public debt accumulated by the first 43 president through Bush the Younger’s first term.
Per Annum Federal Spending Gain:
- Trump: 15.7%;
- Obama: 3.6%;
- Bush the Younger: 6.3%;
- Clinton: 3.1%;
- Bush the Elder: 7.2%;
- Reagan: 7.3%;
- Carter: 12.0%;
- Nixon-Ford: 10.3%;
- Kennedy-Johnson: 8.8%.
In a word, fiscal and monetary matters are of cardinal importance and the Donald’s position on those have been every bit as bad as the middle-of-the-road statism and crony capitalism that Joe Biden has spent 47-years practicing in the Imperial City. So there was nothing to be gained in terms of actual policies over the next four years, even if this were the last rodeo, which it was not.
Indeed, at this juncture the long-haul revival of a genuine conservative Opposition Party of the type that could be led by Senator Rand Paul is 100 times more important than the marginal short-term policy differences between Trump and Biden that were at stake in the 2020 election.
On foreign policy, it is just choosing your poison. Trump is terrible on Iran and China and Biden is awful on Russia and Syria; and both have supported massive funding for the Swamp of Waste at the Pentagon and the excuses for aggression abroad which a trillion national security budget inherently self-funds.
Likewise, on the fiscal and monetary front Biden’s rumored candidate for Fed chairman, Ralph Bostic of the Atlanta Fed, is no worse than Pusillanimous Powell, who the Donald put in the job and then complained that his ultra-easy money policies were not easy enough.
Similarly, the Biden camp’s suggestion that Janet Yellen would make a swell Secretary of the Treasury presents a prospect no worse than the Goldman grifter and Keynesian nincompoop, Stevie Mnuchin, who the Donald installed in one of the few domestic policy posts that really make a difference.
Against these crucial considerations, Professor Block’s observations essentially amount to kicking a straw man:
Yes, the Donald is a protectionist, and free trade is the preferred policy of those who favor economic and personal liberty. But when it comes to lowering taxes and easing regulations on business, the party of the elephant is far more closely aligned to the libertarian philosophy than that of the donkey. Mr. Trump has appointed conservatives to the Supreme Court…..
In contrast, Mr. Biden is a puppet in the marionette hands of out-and-out socialists like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The problem isn’t Bernie and AOC, and the Donald’s life-long love affair with primitive protectionism is among the least of his sins.
Indeed, as to the threat of the so-called Progressive-Left, the one and same AOC cited by Professor Block spent the weekend whining to the NYT about how rudely she has been treated by the House Dem caucus and attempting to refute the obvious fact that the left’s Defund the Police and ersatz socialist professions are exactly why there was no Blue Wave on November 3rd.
For crying out loud, Alexandria Occasio-Cortez is a sawdust-for-brains, historically ignorant, woke millennial brat who is no threat to anything much; and the same goes for the Squad including the saucy immigrant, Ilhan Omar, who came to the land of opportunity, and apparently quickly capitalized upon the opportunity to buy votes and stuff ballot boxes in her Somalian Minneapolis neighborhoods.
So AOC and the Squad were the GOP fund raising gift that never stopped giving, but with either Sleepy Joe or even a Kamala Harris Regency in the Oval Office their noses will soon be pressed hard upon the glass outside the halls of power. And that’s because the incumbent Government Party of the Dems is about crony capitalist corruption and the milquetoast statism of PAC and constituency group driven Big Government, not textbook socialism.
In fact, that’s the essence of Sleepy Joe’s 47-year sojourn in the Imperial City, where he was known as the Senator from the credit card companies. And the same goes for the recycled Clintonistas and Obama apparatchiks who will man the top 2,000 positions in the Biden Administrations after having spent 4-20 years hanging out lucrative shingles on K-street or enjoying the good life at the city’s endless encampments of think tanks and NGOs, where the hours are short and the work is easy (and pointless).
It is these hardened Swamp Dwellers who will shape and table a feckless Dem agenda over the next four years, not political freaks like AOC or even Bernie, and most certainly not some honest-to-goodness socialist professors from Amherst College or Berkeley.
Moreover, you can be sure that if they manage to enact anything–including executive orders that survive court appeals—it will simply be a more polite and a tad left-leaning variation of what the Triumpified GOP delivered up over the past four years, sans the Donald’s personal and signature bashing of immigrants and imports.
That’s because James Madison won again. Rather than a Blue Wave of plenary control in Washington, what we got from the 2020 election was two branches in the hands of conservatives and Republicans (the Supreme Court and Senate, respectively), and two branches marginally won by the Dems, where their House majority shrank to the vanishing point and Sleepy Joe will have crossed the Electoral College finishing line (after all the recounts and challenges are finished) with hardly a vote to spare.
And with respect to the Senate, the GOP pols and PACs have now been struck by the fear of god with respect to their precarious majority. So they will now raise $200 million or more to get every redneck in Georgia–sentient or otherwise— to the polls on January 5th, even as they cordon off the graveyards where thousands of Dem votes wafted to the counting tables on November 3.
So doing, they will likely preserve a 52-48 majority. And that means that all the hobgoblins that have terrified Foxites like Mark Levin and Sean Hannity—Supreme Court packing, elimination of the Senate filibuster rule, sacking the Electoral College, making Washington DC and Puerto Rico (Dem) states, prohibition of fracking and outlawing of fossil fuels, Medicare-for-all, legalization of millions of new immigrant (Dem) voters—are now absolute dead letters.
Even better, if Sleepy Joe abdicates to a Kamala Harris Regency after he is oxygenated and propped up to read a few teleprompters sermons from behind the Resolute Desk, it will be one shorn of the Progressive/Left part of the equation. That’s because on substantive legislation it will take 60 votes to break a Senate GOP filibuster, but it will be a rare day inside the beltway when 100% of the Senate Dems including Manchin (WV) and Tester (MT) and 11 Republicans can be corralled in favor of the kind of Bernie/AOC stuff that got stuffed into the Dem platform.
So the important work of the 2020 elections is done. Donald Trump is soon to be gone because no amount of vote recounts and litigation can undo an inherently fraudulent election—and one that at the end of the day was the result of his own doings.
To make it simple, if he understood a thing at all about liberty, constitutional government and real capitalist prosperity, he would have sent Dr. Fauci and the Scarf Lady (Deborah Birx) packing on day one back in March. It would not have taken him an hour to find the likes of Dr. Scott Atlas or even the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration if he had known enough to even ask.
Instead, he took himself hostage to the Swamp Creatures of the public health bureaucracy and the lobbyists for Big Pharma. That made the difference between a bad flu season, which would have been forgotten by now, and a faux national pandemic crisis that is the very thing that led to massive-scale ad hoc mail-in voting during this election cycle.
At the end of the day, the Donald mailed himself out of office and that is all to the good, even if they way it happened is a national calamity.
Now the hard work of purging the GOP of the stain of Trumpism can begin. It’s an ultra long shot because rabid neocon Warfare Statists like Senator Cotton, Mike Pompeo, Lynn Cheney and Nikki Halley are waiting to pounce.
So the weight falling upon the one man who can lead the GOP back to the old time religion of the Taftian Opposition Party, Senator Rand Paul, will be immense.
Then again, he’s already proven himself to be a more than formidable chip off the old block—that of Congressman Ron Paul, who has kept the libertarian cause alive in America during the same 47 years of enveloping statist darkness that at length brought the feeble remnants of Sleepy Joe Biden to the Oval Office.