by Locker Room contributor
That’s the title of this op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal.
So what is it? Inequality. The writer is a “centrist” Democrat who doesn’t like the worst, most flagrantly anti-market policy ideas put forth by the far-left (such as trade policies that “retreat from the global marketplace”), but presses the idea that it’s up to government to do something because US economic growth isn’t “filter(ing) into the wallets of Americans below the top of the pyramid.” Therefore, he serves as an advisor to something called “the Hamilton Project” which “has fired an opening volley of specific new ideas, some large, some small but all focused on achieving broad-based and sustainable growth while bringing along Americans who have been left behind.”
That last phrase tells the tale. This Hamilton Project’s wonderful ideas include stuff like “wage insurance for displaced workers and a higher minimum wage.”
Wow. You’d think the writer would be embarrassed to call old-fashioned redistribution “new ideas.”
The thing to notice here is the central assumption that if not everyone is gaining at the same pace, then it’s imperative for government to intervene in order to “bring along” those whose incomes are lagging. Why shouldn’t the government simply eliminate barriers to economic progress for those who might want to earn more? (The crowd that always talks about “diversity” ought to recognize that people are diverse in their desires for additional income; some are willing to work hard for it and others aren’t.) Deregulation of the trucking industry, to cite one example, opened up possibilities for many people (women and minorities included) to start businesses and prosper.
A serious attack on remaining barriers to work and entrepreneurship (especially occupational licensing) would unclog lots of arteries in the economy and enable lots of poorer people to improve on their conditions. Old cities like Detroit that are slowly dying could become as vibrant as Hong Kong if they would erase their stultifying taxes and regulations.
Alas, we never hear any such talk from the left. Turning to more government to solve the problems they see is the only play in their playbook.