The people who sold the American voters on having the government assume collective responsibility for major societal problems all seemed at the time to be fundamentally decent (if flawed) men. Men like Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Jimmy Carter. If only we gave control over the big problems to the federal government -- headed at the time by them -- then shortly everyone would have a secure retirement, low income people and old people would have free medical care, poverty would be reduced and then eliminated, and so much more. All significant down side risk of life, gone! And it would all be run by caring, decent people like themselves. Then finally along came the ultimate saint, Barack Obama, selling Hope! Change! affordable healthcare for all, and the healing of the planet. Of course we would give this great man the reins (and massive new legislation) so he could save the country and the world.
Well, guess what? With the voters' blessing these guys have created a gigantic apparatus of government that swallows some $4 trillion every year and is supposed to solve every human problem, and as of January 20, 2017 it's all going to be run by one or the other of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Forget your image of the warm and fuzzy caring mother government and take your pick: give control of your annual $4 trillion to a crazed, self-absorbed ego-maniac, or alternatively to a crazed, self-absorbed crooked ego-maniac. Isn't government great?
And, after 80 or so years of promises and tens of trillions spent, have any of the major problems been solved? Of course, it's the opposite. Indeed, it's fair to say that all of the big government redistribution programs are in crisis. A trillion dollars of annual spending on "poverty" and there are close to twice as many people today said to be in poverty than the day the War on Poverty started. Medicaid, supposed to be a temporary thing for a few years until poverty was eliminated, instead explodes bigger and bigger every year (now at over $550 billion per year and still rapidly growing). Social Security and Medicare are ponzi schemes careening toward a Madoff-like crash one or two or three decades out. Obamacare, only a few years old, is widely reported to be well into an insurance death spiral. And now we're going to get one or the other of crazy Donald or crooked Hillary to take it all over.
Lord knows I have my differences with Trump on policy (see for example here and here) and I have no comprehension at all of his "me, me, me" campaign strategy. But there is at least some reason to believe that -- maybe? -- he has a little idea how private business works.
Hillary? Her deep thoughts about economic policy are more or less the same as those of your typical African potentate, say a Robert Mugabe or a Mobuto Sese Seko. Get all the taxpayer funds you can get your hands on, and direct them to "economic development" projects run by your friends and relatives. Those people will then kick back substantial portions to yourself. The government-directed economic development projects all fail. Your relatives and friends get rich. You retire a billionaire. The people starve.
Don't believe me? Then you haven't been paying attention to what's gone on in Haiti. Trading Economics reports the entire GDP of Haiti at under $9 billion per year -- an almost impossibly small amount for a country of over 10 million people. That makes annual per capita GDP under $1000. (Granted, the economic statistics that come out of Haiti are iffy; but they are the best we've got.) In 2010 they had a big earthquake in Haiti. Hillary Clinton was the Secretary of State. Bill Clinton became head of something called the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission. Bill's Commission got billions of dollars in funding for Haiti via both the State Department and the Clinton Foundation.
Breitbart News here has a figure for the funding that the Clintons directed to Haiti from 2010 to date as about $6 billion. Recognize that that is [the majority of an entire year's worth] of Haitian GDP. In the classic pattern of the tin-pot dictator, the Clintons saw to it that much to most of the money went to contracts to enrich their friends and relatives. Although some of this had come out before the recent email revelations, the new emails have been yet another eye-opener. For example, just five days ago ABC News analyzed a new dump of emails from the time of the 2010 quake involving businesspeople soliciting government-funded contracts to help with the relief effort. State department staffers segregated the emails into those that came from "FOBs" (Friends of Bill) and not; the former got first priority:
In a series of candid email exchanges with top Clinton Foundation officials during the hours after the massive 2010 Haiti earthquake, a senior aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeatedly gave special attention to those identified by the abbreviations “FOB” (friends of Bill Clinton) or “WJC VIPs” (William Jefferson Clinton VIPs). “Need you to flag when people are friends of WJC,” wrote Caitlin Klevorick, then a senior State Department official who was juggling incoming offers of assistance being funneled to the State Department by the Clinton Foundation. “Most I can probably ID but not all.”
And who ultimately got the big lucrative contracts? From Breitbart:
Hillary Clinton’s brother, Tony Rodham, landed a lucrative and historically rare Haitian “gold exploitation permit,” while Clinton Foundation donors, including Digicel mobile phone company founder Denis O’Brien, were winning multi-million dollar contracts that would siphon massive profits from the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
Perhaps most significant, Hillary backed the very dubious election in 2011 of corruptocrat President Michel "Sweet Mickey" Martelly, and allowed basically all aid to Haiti to go through official government channels. The result: after six years, there is still essentially no meaningful private business in Haiti. No sane person would invest any significant sum there. The $6 billion has completely disappeared. The country is just as poor as it was before. But many friends and relatives of the Clintons have done very well, and the Clintons themselves have used the donations to the Clinton Foundation to support their lifestyles and their permanent staff. It truly is the Mugabe model. (Martelly left office a few months ago. Nobody knows how wealthy Martelly became, but it's highly likely that he is the richest man in Haiti. Hey, that's how it's done!)
But the United States does not run on this crony model of economic development, do we? Can anyone say "green energy"? It's exactly the same thing: investment schemes that cannot compete in a competitive market, and that everyone knows will fail. But they are subsidized by the government and awarded to cronies of those in power. The cronies take a cut of the government subsidies and get rich. The politicians who award the subsidized contracts also get rich, whether by "speaking fees" or donations to a "foundation," or whatever. The development projects inevitably fail, but that's a few years from now, and who will remember?
UPDATE: A commenter pointed out an obvious math error with regard to the comparison of Clinton-directed aid to Haiti to Haitian GDP. Now corrected.