Donald Trump, Bad Central Planner for the Economy and for the Coronavirus

Guest article by Jacob Hornberger, Libertarian Candidate for President of the United States

For three years, President Trump’s shibboleth has been the stock market. Up until recently, his mantra has been: “I am responsible for the rise in the stock market. It’s all because of me. I am a great economic central planner. Reelect me.”

As I pointed out a couple of months ago, however, if the stock market were ever to go down, you could rest assured that the last thing that Trump would do is take responsibility for the drop. At that point, he would be blaming it on everyone and everything else. 

And sure enough, when the stock market recently plummeted, Central Planner Trump wasn’t taking any responsibility for it. At first he said it was all because of a fight over oil prices. And then he blamed it on the Federal Reserve. Then, finally he said that it was all because of the coronavirus. 

But wouldn’t a good central planner take all of those matters into consideration in planning a national economy? And it’s not as though our Central Planner wasn’t warned about the possibility of a pandemic. Epidemiologists have been issuing such warnings for years. Donald Trump, our master Central Planner, simply decided to ignore those warnings as part of his central planning. After all, the stock market was going up. What was there to worry about?

The real point, however, is not whether Trump is a good central planner or a bad one. America shouldn’t have a system of central planning at all, either in economic activity or in healthcare. That’s because central planning is a core feature of socialism, a system that inevitably brings crisis, chaos, and the destruction of life, liberty, and property.

Monetary socialism

At the center of America’s centrally planned economy is, of course, the Federal Reserve, the institution that is responsible for centrally planning America’s monetary affairs. Trump knows this, which is why he has spent the entire three years of his administration pressuring and bullying the Fed into lowering interest rates — in the hopes that another round of money-printing will keep the stock market rising.

Never mind that the Fed is responsible for the destruction of what used to be the finest monetary system in history, one based on gold coins and silver coins. That was the system established by the Constitution and remained the monetary system of the United States for more than 100 years, until the Fed destroyed it with its ever-increasing expansion of money and credit to finance the ever-increasing expenses of the welfare-warfare state that both Democrats and Republicans have foisted upon our land.

Never mind also that the Fed is responsible for the endless cycles of economic booms and busts, bubbles and bursting bubbles, recessions and depressions, including the Great Depression itself. 

Among the best things that could ever happen to the American people is the establishment of a free-market monetary system, which would necessarily mean the end of the Fed and its system of monetary central planning. 

Healthcare socialism

America also once had the finest healthcare system in history — a free-market healthcare system, one in which there was minimal governmental interference. Healthcare costs were so low and stable that hardly anyone had or needed major medical insurance. Doctors and hospitals provided free medical care to the poor, on a purely voluntary basis.

And then came Medicare and Medicaid and healthcare central planning and regulation, all of which succeeded in destroying that finest healthcare system in history. We have ended up with a healthcare system that is characterized by an ongoing, never-ending healthcare crisis, one that involves ever-increasing healthcare costs that are bankrupting the American people and inevitably leading to a totally socialist healthcare system.

What is the response of President Trump to healthcare socialism? His response is the same at that of the Democrats: Preserve Medicare and Medicaid and keep the central planning, government-regulated healthcare system intact and just reform it. In the minds of people like Trump, Joe Biden, and Bernie Sanders, surely, surely, there is some healthcare reform that will finally fix America’s socialist healthcare system and make it work.

As I have argued for 30 years at The Future of Freedom Foundation (which does not endorse my candidacy for president), there is no reform — I repeat no possible reform — of America’s socialist healthcare system that is going to work. That includes healthcare reforms promoted by libertarians, such as “health savings accounts.” That’s because socialism is an inherently defective paradigm. No one can make it work. No reform can make it work. Anyone who spends his time, energy, and money trying to make it work is wasting his time, energy, and money. He’d be better off just going to the golf course.

We are now witnessing the deadly consequences of America’s sordid socialist healthcare system with the coronavirus. The government is in charge of keeping us “safe” and yet government officials are running around like chickens with their heads cut off and, in the process, destroying whatever is left of liberty in our land. 

Quarantine zones. Travel controls. Lockdowns. Shutdowns. Prohibitions. It all goes to show why the Framers chose not to include an emergency exception in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They knew that “emergencies” are the time-honored way that power-lusting officials destroy people’s liberties, oftentimes with the support of a fear-filled citizenry.

And then, of course, there is all the chaos in the centrally planned and regulated healthcare industry. Insufficient government-provided test kits, prohibitions on testing imposed on healthcare providers, the dissemination of false information, and a scarcity of face masks and hand sanitizers. Ludwig von Mises’s term for the consequences of central planning best describes what is going on: planned chaos. What better term to describe what is happening with the coronavirus?

Healthcare liberty and economic liberty

There is but one solution to America’s perpetual healthcare crisis: a total separation of healthcare and the state. That is, a total free-market healthcare system. No more Medicare and Medicaid. No more healthcare central planning. No more medical licensure. No more healthcare regulations. No more governmental interference. Instead, a healthcare system that is entirely independent of government control, regulation, and planning.

The free market produces the best of everything. Moreover, it is our heritage as Americans, one that distinguishes us from Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the rest of the world.

Imagine if America had embraced the libertarian idea of separating healthcare and the state 30 years ago. Today, we would have a vibrant, dynamic healthcare system, with low and stable costs. A diverse range of healthcare entrepreneurs, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers would be mobilizing in a spontaneous manner with testing, guidance, advice, recommendations, and treatment and cures to lead America out of the crisis. When it comes to a healthcare crisis, I’d put my faith in them and healthcare liberty over government officials and state socialism any day of the week.

There is but one solution to America’s economic and healthcare woes. That solution lies not with Donald Trump, Joe Biden, or Bernie Sanders, and other Republican and Democratic devotees of economic and healthcare socialism. 

The solution to America’s economic and healthcare woes lies with freedom and free markets. That’s what we libertarians are all about. That’s what my campaign for president of the United States is all about.

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