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Spinning In The Web

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The past few days have been busy.  My daughter graduated from Northwestern Law.  She took a job with Kirkland and Ellis in Fund Formation if any of you are thinking of starting a fund.  We drove up to open our cabin in Grand Marais, Minnesota, and have been here since.  The black flies came out in force yesterday.  Uff da.

I haven’t been on the web much, but noticed the tenor of many articles spinning the proposed Biden Tax Increase as “positive for growth”.   They are basing their opinion on Bill Clinton.  Clinton raised taxes in the first two years of his term after the prior President George Bush (“Read my lips, no new taxes”) had raised taxes.  Clinton also tried to socialize the medical industry which crushed medical stocks.

We had some growth.  But, not from 1992-1994.  Interestingly, Clinton was elected because Bush raised taxes after the Reagan boom and created a mini-recession.

But, we didn’t have growth after the tax increases.  It was the “Contract With America” and new House Speaker Newt Gingrich who created gridlock in government that initialized growth.  Once there was gridlock, Clinton concentrated on expanding the regulatory state since he controlled the Executive Branch.

William Galston, the liberal columnist in the Wall Street Journal went so far as to say, “the onus” on the tax cutters to prove that tax hikes don’t limit growth.

I disagree.  Strongly.

Name one thing in the last twenty years, even the last fifty, that government has created from the ground up to create outsize economic growth.  One. Thing. You can’t.  Private industry builds outsize economic growth.  Government is a bloodsucker on the leg of private industry.

In the 1990s, Clinton didn’t create the internet revolution.  You can even make a strong case that government didn’t create the internet.  Al Gore didn’t either.

Over the past twenty years, we have seen the mobile phone created and applications that leverage it.  We have seen blockchain/cryptocurrency invented.  We have seen huge companies built on software.  None of it was government-created.

Bureaucrats don’t sit around and create.  They push paper and limit.  They have no incentive to create.

As a matter of fact, the government mostly gets in the way.  See how it limits or kills the gig economy applications like Uber, Airbnb, Grubhub and others.  Governments tax, introduce levies that only apply to the gig economy, and tries to use the regulatory state to corral it.  They do it to protect existing industries.

Government is anti-innovative.

I hear a lot of talk about “smarter regulation” and it’s a good soundbite.  However, smarter regulation is more often no regulation.  Regulation creates winners and losers.  It creates concentration.  There is not one giant industry in the US that doesn’t have giant corporations that don’t benefit from government regulation and taxes on emerging competitors.

It’s also worth remembering this point when you hear people talk or write articles advocating for more government.

Government cannot invest, it can only spend.  All the money government uses comes from taxpayers paying their taxes, or issuance of debt.  The issuance of debt is a tax on future taxpayers.  Government can also create more dollars, but that creates inflation devaluing the currency.  It is an artificial tax on citizens.

If governments could create wealth the welfare programs initialized in 1965 would have been sunsetted.  The entirety of Africa would be first world and functioning given the amounts of money governments have poured into that continent.

When the government engages in the above activities, it crowds out the private sector.  Wealth and higher standards of living are built in the private sector.  Not in the government sector.

The multiplier effect of government spending on economic growth and GDP is zero, or close to zero.

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