Here at the Manhattan Contrarian, I generally try to focus on policy rather than on politicians and personalities. The basic idea is to cut through the government's endless self-promotion of itself and grubbing for bigger programs and budgets and staffs, and to look at the pervasive and inevitable failure of its efforts. "Anti-poverty" programs that cost a trillion dollars a year without ever ameliorating poverty. "Affordable housing" programs ("the worst possible public policy") that trap the "beneficiaries" in poverty for life. Healthcare programs that cost hundreds of billions of annual dollars without improving either poverty status or health outcomes. "Environmental" regulations that impose hundreds of billions of dollars of annual costs on the economy without any detectable improvements to the environment. Plus, of course, the endless stream of fake and doctored government-issued data and statistics all carefully engineered to promote the further growth of the government and the election of the favored candidates who will promote the growth of the government.
Study this stuff enough, and you just can't help but get more and more disgusted with the political class. These are the people who are running things. They have to know that the "anti-poverty" programs don't ameliorate poverty. They have to know that the "affordable housing" programs trap people in poverty for life (while making them into reliable bought votes for the ins). They have to know that the costs of these and the other failures make all working Americans immeasurably poorer. They have to know the major ways in which the data and statistics are fake and doctored. Which makes these people outright frauds. They'll say anything to get their hands on taxpayer money to be used to keep themselves and their supporters in power. Or, maybe they don't know. That's even worse for them! How is it even possible to be on the inside of the government at a high level and be so willfully ignorant?
All of which brings me to Hillary Clinton's op-ed in today's New York Times, headlined "My Plan For Helping America's Poor." This is just as bad as it gets. In a bare 600 or so words, the Democratic candidate manages to utter virtually every significant cliche of New York Times conventional ignorance and groupthink on the subject of anti-poverty efforts. And what is her proposal of what to do? You guessed it: double down on failure! Here's how it starts:
The true measure of any society is how we take care of our children. With all of our country’s resources, no child should ever have to grow up in poverty. Yet every single night, all across America, kids go to sleep hungry or without a place to call home. We have to do better.
Can we have any recognition that the American taxpayers are already spending a trillion dollars a year or so on these "anti-poverty" efforts? How is it even possible to spend that much money and still have "kids go[ing] to sleep hungry or without a place to call home"? Hey, Hillary: you were the First Lady for eight years. You were a U.S. Senator for eight years. Then you were a senior member of the current administration. Isn't it time to take ownership of the failure? Who is to blame here, if not you? Haven't you known all this time that the government was blowing a trillion a year of taxpayer money without making any dent in poverty? Where has been your advocacy over the eight years of Obama's presidency to redirect some the the trillion a year of "anti-poverty" money into something that might work? I sure haven't heard it.
And who is this "we" throughout your article? I get the clear impression that you're trying to guilt me and the other overly-generous taxpayers with the government's failure to spend the immense resources it has been given in any remotely effective manner. Sorry, but it's not the taxpaying class that has been given the trillion per year and has failed to solve the problem of poverty. It's the political class -- you and your cronies.
So let's look at a few of the specific proposals. First, note of course that there isn't the slightest suggestion here that any of the current spending might be cut as worthless. What, and make some of my supporters go out and get a real job? No, instead it's all new and additional government spending and programs!
I will work with Democrats and Republicans to make a historic investment in good-paying jobs — jobs in infrastructure and manufacturing, technology and innovation, small businesses and clean energy.
All wealth comes from government spending! Hey, it's an "investment"! And that "clean energy" thing can pass a lot of government billions to supporters of the Clinton Foundation!
If we want to get serious about poverty, we also need a national commitment to create more affordable housing.
As long as we're going to go for bad public policy, we might as well go for the "worst possible public policy"! So-called "affordable housing" is how you spend as much money as possible to benefit as few people as possible, while being absolutely sure that no one currently in poverty ever exits. It's not possible, is it, for Hillary not to know that "affordable housing" subsidies don't count as income and therefore never raise a single person out of poverty? I really don't know the answer to that.
And how to finance the new "affordable housing" initiative? With tax credits, of course! That will make sure that the program enriches a handful of her wealthiest supporters:
My plan would expand Low Income Housing Tax Credits in high-cost areas to increase our affordable housing supply. . . .
And is there anywhere here any recognition that what we have done so far hasn't worked? It's totally the opposite:
[W]e’re making progress, thanks to the hard work of the American people and President Obama. . . . In the United States, a new report from the Census Bureau found that there were 3.5 million fewer people living in poverty in 2015 than just a year before. Median incomes rose by 5.2 percent, the fastest growth on record.
Yes, you knew that one was coming: claiming that the Census Bureau's transparently fake pre-election methodological change not only fairly presents a real rise in incomes and decline in poverty, but also can be somehow attributed to policies of the Obama administration that were in fact intentionally designed to keep poverty high. See my previous two posts on this subject here and here.
Yes, you are absolutely right to be disgusted.