I've always liked Dee Dee Myers. I didn't always agree with her, but there was something credible about her, and her rise to prominence in the Clinton administration at such a young age was admirable. But she certainly showed some ignorance on ABC's This Week this morning.
TAPPER: But, Dee Dee, you think this was a good week for the president, in terms of his economic message?
MYERS: I do. I think that it's sort of the third act in the economic play. First, we saw the president's jobs bill proposal. Then we had the State of the Union and we had the budget. And he's on a consistent theme, which is we're going to build an economy that's built to that that will make sure that people who work hard and play by the rules have the opportunity to succeed. It's opportunity and responsibility. Where have we heard that before?
WILL: And what is the antecedent of the pronoun "we"? "We are going to build this"? It's the government. That's his constant message, is we in Washington know best, we know how much manufacturing there ought to be, we know how much of this there ought to be, we're going to pick the winners and losers. Their record at this is appalling.
MYERS: I think it's different than that, actually, George, you'll be shocked to know. I think it's saying that, you know what, there are some inequities built into the system. Why is it that the rich keep getting richer? The well-to-do have seen their income and their wealth grow by unprecedented amounts.
There's only a couple explanations for that. Either the rich people are really a lot smarter than the rest of us -- and I don't think any of us at that table would stipulate...
TAPPER: Lou might.
MYERS: ... or there might be something in the rules that's rigged and the government actually can do something about that, to try to level the playing field so that ordinary folks can get ahead again. One of the reasons we're seeing the reactions that we're seeing in the country is because people feel like the rules are rigged, the playing field is no longer level, and if you work hard and you play by the rules, you can no longer be sure that you're going to do well.
Capitalism is a system of rules and contracts that enable people to specialize in production and enter into voluntary exchanges with one another. Choose your own path, and if in the process you create value for others who then want to trade with you, you in turn make yourself better off.
Where do we see this being thwarted? How is the game rigged? When multi-millionaire sports franchise owners and their players get taxpayer funded stadiums, allowing them to reap billions of dollars in economic rents. When operating taxicabs and limousines are licensed to protect the profits of insiders. When corporate farms and millionaire entertainers receive government subsidies from taxpayers. When a few hundred sugar growers are unjustly enriched from sugar import quotas that drive up the price of sugar to U.S. consumers. When members of Congress and their aides trade on insider information. When members of Congress direct federal funding not only to their home districts, but to projects that directly benefit individual members financially. And on, and on, and on.
Why would anyone ever call for more government to correct this? It's as if NFL or NBA officials were totally rigging games for personal profit and in response the owners called for more rules and more officials to oversee those rules. Government legislation and enforcement (or lack thereof) impact market capitalism and the personal freedom it brings about, but that has in may respects skewed the playing field, not made it level.
Dee Dee, Ronald Reagan was right: Government is not the solution. Government is the problem masquerading as the solution.