Sunday, August 21, 2016

Presidential Policies – A Non Sequitur

A non sequitur is a conclusion that does not follow from its premise.  For example, summer is a wonderful time which makes dogs better than cats.  The premise, summer, is not connected in any logical way to making dogs better than cats.  Presidential policies too are replete with non sequiturs.

Donald Trump wants to stem the flow of foreign trade with China and Mexico.  He derides these countries for taking American jobs.  He degrades the “stupid” bureaucrats in Washington for making bad trade deals, like NAFTA, and scolds Carrier Corporation for moving its manufacturing to Mexico.  For Trump, NAFTA is the premise that caused Carrier to move - this is a non sequitur.  Carrier moved because of the excessive tax and regulatory burdens imposed on it by the government.  NAFTA just made Mexico a potential place to move to, but NAFTA was not the premise for the move.

Hillary Clinton would cure anemic economic growth with, among other big government programs, infrastructure spending to the tune of about $55 billion a year.  Her premise is that government spending has a multiplier and any government spending will increase demand.  This is a non sequitur.  President Obama and the Congressional Democrats allocated close to a trillion dollars in economic “stimulus” in 2009 – with a portion dedicated to infrastructure – yet their touted “recovery summer” of 2010 did not materialized: unemployment spiked over 10% when they assured us that the stimulus would hold unemployment to under 7%, and workforce participation sank to the lowest level since the 1970’s.  So the premise that government stimulus will spur demand and accelerate economic growth does not follow.

Partisans will cheer their candidates and not stop to question policies they accept as dogma.  However, non-partisans need to be clear minded and question the premise before being agreeable to the policy.

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