Fake Populism

President Trump is known as a “populist” president who was elected by appealing to “the forgotten man” (and woman) – the hard-working, taxed-to-death middle class people whose interests are usually diametrically opposed to the political elites of both parties.  The label of populism seems especially appropriate with regard to his foreign policy of pursuing peace with Russia and North Korea, judging by the vicious and apoplectic reaction to it by the deep state elite, some of whom have called for the president’s execution for treason.  You know an American president is doing the right thing when he is so viciously attacked by the James Gang – Clapper and Comey.

But the lynchpin of President Trump’s economic policy – protectionist tariffs on steel, aluminum, solar panels (Huh?), and washing machines, among other things, is quintessentially non-populist.  It is the exact opposite of populism, as protectionism always is and always has been, because it benefits a few politically well connected corporations and their employees and shareholders by plundering the masses with government-mandated price increases.  The lack of competition caused by protection also usually leads to lower-quality products. The Real Lincoln: A Ne... Dilorenzo, Thomas J. Best Price: $4.25 Buy New $7.48 (as of 07:05 UTC - Details)

More than 60 percent of the average automobile consists of steel and aluminum.  Consequently, the president’s tariffs on steel and aluminum will increase American car prices, rendering American automakers less competitive in international competition.  There will be a decline of American jobs, profits, and shareholder wealth.  The same is true of all other products made of steel and aluminum.  It’s hard to imagine any economic policy that is more anti-populist than that.

President Trump’s tariffs have already instigated retaliation by other countries that have placed higher tariffs on American goods.  If this doesn’t stop soon, Al Gore may have to send President Trump another framed photo of Congressmen Smoot and Hawley, authors of the notorious Smoot-Hawley tariff of 1929, as he did when he debated Ross Perot.  The Smoot-Hawley tariff spawned an international trade war that reduced the volume of world trade by two-thirds in the subsequent three years.

President Trump announced his fake populist economic agenda in a speech in Louisville, Kentucky on March 20, 2017.  He chose Louisville because he claims that his inspiration for his brand of “populism” is Henry Clay, the nineteenth-century mercantilist politician.  He hailed Clay as “a great statesman” and highlighted Clay’s lifelong advocacy of protectionist tariffs while also calling him a free trader!

A History of Money and... Rothbard, Murray N. Best Price: $5.53 Buy New $42.06 (as of 08:00 UTC - Details) As leader of the Whig Party Henry Clay was the personification of political elitism, mercantilist economics, and anti-populism.  His “American System,” so named by Alexander Hamilton, was a system of plunder of the common man and woman for the benefit of the politically connected:  protectionist tariffs, corporate welfare (“internal improvement subsidies”), and a national bank run by politicians, the worst idea in all of American economic history.  That is why his fiercest enemies were the Jeffersonians of his day, which by that time came to be known as the “Jacksonians.”   As Murray Rothbard wrote in A History of Money and Banking in the United States (p. 91), “The Jacksonians were libertarians, plain and simple.  Their program and ideology were libertarian; they strongly favored free enterprise and free markets, but they just as strongly opposed special subsidies and monopoly privileges conveyed by government to business or any other group.  They favored absolutely minimal government . . .”

The Jacksonians “eventually managed to put into effect various parts of their free-market and minimal-government economic program,” wrote Rothbard, “including a drastic lowering of tariffs, and for the first and probably the last time in American history, paying off the federal debt.”

Henry Clay’s “System” was the exact opposite of this in every way.  As described by Edgar Lee Masters in Lincoln the Man (p. 27) describing the man who Abe Lincoln credited with being the fount of all of his political ideas:

“Clay was he champion of that political system which doles favors to the strong in order to win and to keep their adherence to the government.  His system offered shelter to devious schemes and corrupt enterprises . . . .  He was the beloved son (figuratively speaking) of Alexander Hamilton with his corrupt funding schemes, his superstitions concerning the advantage of a public debt, and a people taxed to make profits for enterprises that cannot stand alone.  His example and his doctrines led to the creation of a party [the Whigs] that had no platform to announce, because its principles were plunder and nothing else.”

Henry Clay died in 1850 but the corrupt Hamilton/Clay/Lincoln “American System,” which was really the rotten British system that the American colonists fought an eight-year war to secede from, was finally cemented into place during the War to Prevent Southern Independence.  As Rothbard wrote in For a New Liberty (p. 10):

“The Civil War, in addition to its unprecedented bloodshed and devastation, was used by the triumphal and virtually one-party Republican regime to drive through its statist, formerly Whig, program: national government power, protectionist tariff, subsidies to big business, inflationary paper money, resumed control of the federal government over banking, large-scale internal improvements, high excise taxes, and, during the war, conscription and an income tax.  Furthermore, the states came to lose their precious right of secession and other states’ powers as opposed to federal government powers.”

In light of this, perhaps President Trump should take down that giant portrait of Andrew Jackson that hangs in the oval office and replace it with one of Hamilton, Clay, or better yet – King George III.