“The economy, stupid”, was the winning phrase James Carville coined as a campaign strategist in Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 presidential campaign against sitting president George H. W. Bush. This outlined the winning strategy; other “mission statement” slogans, including options like focusing on change vs. more of the same, and social issues including healthcare lost out. Good thing; it defeated a sitting president.
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“The economy, stupid”, was the winning phrase James Carville coined as a campaign strategist in Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 presidential campaign against then sitting president George H. W. Bush. This outlined the winning strategy; other “mission statement” slogans, including options like focusing on change vs. more of the same, or social issues including healthcare lost out. Good thing; “The economy, stupid” defeated a sitting president.
Why is the economy not again front and center in this election year? What has changed in the last 25 years.
Yes, I will answer, but first let’s look at who is responsible for this roaring economy. Barack Obama did a lot of the right things to help bring us out of the deep recession he inherited. Credit him for that rescue. After that, the economy for the next six years can be described as either “slow and steady growth” if you like what President Obama did, or “tepid” if you don’t. Donald Trump came in, signaled then implemented tax and regulatory cuts, and the economy took off. Credit him for lighting that fire. The current economy can be described as “roaring and benefiting everyone” if you like what President Trump is doing or “widening the wealth gap” if you don’t. Either way, the economy is on fire.
OK let’s repeat the question: Why is the economy not again front and center in this election year? What has changed in the last 25 years.
Answer: Fewer people believe the economy is a key part of determining their lifestyle. It is partly that many people have short-term memories, and after nine years of an improving economy a downturn may seem out of sight, and out of mind. Hey, it’s all good all the time, right? More important is the growing belief that everyone deserves at least a minimally comfortable standard of living. This expectation is married to a willful ignorance of where the money to support that largess comes from. The belief is clearly that “someone else” is responsible for creating the wealth that must be redistributed. And regardless of the state of the economy, roaring along or in deep recession, the money simply needs to be there to be given out. Ironically, the “someone else” who is being held responsible appears to consist of the disliked “1%” and corporations; “Corporations are not people!” The money this growing number of people demands be there, to be redistributed regardless of the state of the economy, needs to come from the two of the groups they hold in the lowest regard.
In addition to ignoring the state of the economy while still expecting what is “theirs”, this thinking assumes that massive expenditures on things like the environment, healthcare, and education can continue to rise all while the pool of money to be redistributed also increases. Decreasing thought–if any–is given to the engine that provides the wealth to be taxed then spent in the first place.
And that’s why the roaring economy is being virtually ignored by more and more of the electorate. They simply don’t see any necessary connection between the economy and what they expect the government to provide. They deserve the money, either because they are a victim of some sort, or, more recently, simply because they are alive. Fill in the blank with me, “______ is a human right.” Healthcare, housing, food, universal income, etc. And if the government has to print the money to keep it coming, so be it.
Today’s key points:
- There is no necessary connection between what people want and what will be given to them. In fact, there is no necessary connection between what people need and what they will receive.
- There is a definite connection between the overall economy and the income and wealth the economy produces and the money the government has in hand to pay for anything from defense to food. In other words, the money has to be created by the economy before it can be taxed and spent.
- To the extent that we want to make a connection between what people need and want and what they have in their lives, we must all take personal responsibility for making that happen.
Yes, we must all take personal responsibility for making that happen. As individuals, we must take 100% responsibility for meeting our obligations to ourselves, and those family members and friends who depend upon us. Yes, 100%. We are all 100% responsible for everything; for example, in a two-person relationship, both people are 100% responsible. Not 50/50 or 75/75; 100/100. But that is a different podcast.
And, yes, at the same time the answer to the question posed in the Bible, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is a ringing, “Yes!” There is no other answer. We are all indeed our Brother’s Keepers. I like to capitalize Brother’s Keepers outside of the quote, because I see being our Brother’s Keepers as being a cause, not merely a quote or an axiom. How we simultaneously apply the two main tenets that we believe in at Results With Reason, Personal Responsibility; practice it, teach it and Be Your Brother’s Keeper, will shape our individual and collective futures.
Now it is time for our usual parting thought. It is not enough to be informed. We need to act. And if we, you and I, don’t do something, then the others who are doing something, will continue to run the show.
Remember: Knowledge by itself is the booby prize.
Will Luden, writing to you from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.