Corruption, Donald Trump, Issues

John Stossel, Paul Krugman, and the Washington Swamp

2

If you ask what worries me about the incoming Trump Administration, I’ll immediately point to a bunch of policy issues.

Others, though, are more focused on whether Trump’s business empire will distort decisions in the White House.

Image Credit: Brian Stansberry under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Image Credit: Brian Stansberry under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Here’s what Paul Krugman recently wrote about Trump and potential corruption.

…he’s already giving us an object lesson in what real conflicts of interest look like, as authoritarian governments around the world shower favors on his business empire. Of course, Donald Trump could be rejecting these favors and separating himself and his family from his hotels and so on. But he isn’t. In fact, he’s openly using his position to drum up business. …The question you need to ask is why this matters. …America is a very rich country, whose government spends more than $4 trillion a year, so even large-scale looting amounts to rounding error. What’s important is not the money that sticks to the fingers of the inner circle, but what they do to get that money, and the bad policy that results. …what’s truly scary is the potential impact of corruption on foreign policy. …someplace like Vladimir Putin’s Russia can easily funnel vast sums to the man at the top… So how bad will the effects of Trump-era corruption be? The best guess is, worse than you can possibly imagine.

I’m tempted to ask why Krugman wasn’t similarly worried about corruption over the past eight years. Was he fretting about Solyndra-type scams? About the pay-to-play antics at the Clinton Foundation? About Operation Choke Point and arbitrary denial of financial services to law-abiding citizens?

He seems to think that the problem of malfeasance only exists when his team isn’t in power. But that’s totally backwards. As I wrote back in 2010, people should be especially concerned and vigilant when their party holds power. It’s not just common sense. It should be a moral obligation.

But even if Krugman is a hypocrite, that doesn’t mean he’s wrong. At least not in this case. He is absolutely on the mark when he frets about the “incentives” for massive looting by Trump and his allies.

But what frustrates me is that he doesn’t draw the obvious conclusion, which is that the incentive to loot mostly exists because there’s an ability to loot. And the ability to loot mostly exists because the federal government is so big and has so much power.

And as Lord Acton famously warned, power is very tempting and very corrupting.

Which is why I’m hoping that Krugman will read John Stossel’s new column for Reason. In the piece, John correctly points out that the only way to “drain the swamp” is to shrink the size and scope of government.

…today’s complex government allows the politically connected to corrupt… most everything. …In the swamp, no one but taxpayers pays for their mistakes. …it’s well worth it for companies to invest in lobbyists and fixers who dive into the swamp to extract subsidies.For taxpayers? Not so much. While the benefits to lobbyists are concentrated, taxpayer costs are diffuse. …Draining the swamp would mean not just taking freebies away from corporations—or needy citizens—but eliminating complex handouts like Obamacare. Candidate Trump said he would repeal Obamacare. Will he? He’s already backed off of that promise, saying he likes two parts of the law—the most expensive parts.

As you can see, Stossel understands “public choice” and recognizes that making government smaller is the only sure-fire way of reducing public corruption.

Which is music to my ears, for obvious reasons.

By the way, the same problem exists in many other countries and this connects to the controversies about Trump and his business dealings. Many of the stories about potential misbehavior during a Trump Administration focus on whether the President will adjust American policy in exchange for permits and other favors from foreign governments.

But that temptation wouldn’t exist if entrepreneurs didn’t need to get permission from bureaucrats before building things such as hotels and golf courses. In other words, if more nations copied Singapore and New Zealand, there wouldn’t be much reason to worry whether the new president was willing to swap policy for permits.

This is a guest post by Dan Mitchell “a high priest of light tax small state libertarianism”
  • RLTMLT

    Welcome to Capitalism, a system that would have not prevailed if the people at the top of the economic ladder didn’t benefit. A reality that has existed ever since mankind evolved from a lower form of life !
    Stossel’s general view on government corruption is obviously what ultimately got him thrown off ABC television, one of the surviving Liberally bias networks that came out of FCC consolidation of the electronic media in this country during the Clinton administration. For Liberals, government is the ultimate achievement of mankind !
    Trump’s win has definitely upset the Liberal Class in this country, confirmation by a majority of the voters that it is time for this insanity to come to an end before we reach 3rd world status ! A warning often ignored by Liberals; Sooner or later, you always run out of other people’s money to spend !

  • Frank W Brown

    Does ANYONE listen to the economic FREAK krugman? Those that do end up LOSING because he is an idiot!

Sign up for our FREE newsletter!

Sign up to receive daily updates, political news, action letters and additional messages from Conservative Republican News

View our Privacy Policy

Join our FREE Newsletter!