Thursday, April 17, 2008

'Shared prosperity'

When Hillary Clinton said what she did last night about getting "back to shared prosperity," I thought that it was a slip of the tongue for which Clinton would surely suffer GOP slings and arrows in the general election.

I've since looked into Clinton's use of the phrase, and it seems that while the latter is almost certainly true, the former is anything but.

Far from running from the idea of a "shared prosperity," Clinton has abided there for nearly a year. After Clinton's remarks in New Hampshire in May 2007, the Associated Press noted this:

Sen. Hillary Clinton outlined a broad economic vision on Tuesday, saying it's time to replace an "on your own" society with one based on shared responsibility and prosperity.

The Democratic presidential hopeful said what the Bush administration touts as an "ownership society" really is an "on your own" society that has widened the gap between rich and poor.

"I prefer a 'we're all in it together' society," she said. "I believe our government can once again work for all Americans. It can promote the great American tradition of opportunity for all and special privileges for none." That means pairing growth with fairness, she said, to ensure that the middle class succeeds in the global economy, not just corporate CEOs.
It's been a continuing theme throughout her campaign. She has publicized the plan through countless online outlets, most recently pitching it in the Wall Street Journal:

Shared prosperity means providing greater economic security and opportunity for middleclass families.

American families don't need new government bureaucracies; they need new tools to help them climb the economic ladder. This begins with health care, because rising costs erode workers' savings, make insurance less affordable, put businesses at a competitive disadvantage, and threaten our fiscal future.
Not everyone thinks The Plan is a good idea. Dr. Gary Wolfram, a political economy professor at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Mich., writes this about Clinton's grand plan:

Candidates for president of the United States are being judged on their “plans” for the economy, health care, retirement, housing, etc.

However, in 1920 the renowned Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises published “Socialism,” in which he pointed out that central planning cannot result in a prosperous economy ...

The failure of planned societies such as the former Soviet Union, Maoist China, socialist India and those in sub-Saharan Africa -- and the new prosperity of Estonia, China and India as they move to market reforms -- should have made it rather obvious that Mises was correct. Yet Clinton assures us that she "will have a long-term economic plan that creates jobs, strengthens the middle class, and allows everyone to share in our economic growth."

It will find that a corporate income tax above the rest of the world will result in a depressed level of the capital that is essential for economic growth. It will find that a K-12 education system based on government monopoly of production and provision leads to poverty for the underclass. And it will find that as the rest of the world realizes the wisdom of Mises and Hayek, it will be increasingly difficult to compete in a global market economy.
Read the rest here.

Interested in Mises or libertarian political theory? You have to visit the Ludwig von Mises Institute, headquartered right here in Auburn, Alabama. Click here.