In today’s column, Thomas Sowell proposes that one reason Trump is leading the Republican polls is his:
…ability and the willingness to articulate his positions clearly, forcefully and in plain English. Too many Republicans talk like the actor of whom a critic once said, “he played the king like he was afraid that someone else was going to play the ace.”
Sowell has a good point, but I think there are other characteristics that make Trump appealing to folks.
One, he isn’t a politician, yet. Two, he is market tested. His TV show attracts viewers. Three, he is a successful businessman, which appeals to folks who want jobs.
But, folks need to get over their crush on Trump. His foreign trade policies stink and his views on government are no better than any other politician.
First, foreign policy. With his protectionist approach, he wants to restrain imports to create jobs.
He doesn’t understand that is like me deciding not to buy food from grocery stores (imports to my home) so I can create the job of growing my own food. While it’s true that restraining grocery imports to my home will create work for me, most people will deduce that I am not better off with my protectionist policy.
Instead of working an hour each day to buy those grocery imports (and an overabundance of calories), I will now need to work 10 to 12 hours plus weekends to produce just enough calories to sustain myself.
Which means I also need to give up whatever it was I was doing before to earn the wealth I used to buy the imports. What I gave up to produce my own food is my opportunity cost. It’s a steep cost that nearly everyone would advise me not to incur, wouldn’t you agree?
Yet it’s that very same opportunity cost that Trump, and all the folks who like what he says, ignores. While he points out the work that is created, he misses the opportunity cost of creating that work by restraining imports.
My example is not much different when you expand it from the boundaries of my property to the boundaries of our country.
The big difference is that whomever is made busy with protectionist policies are easy to find and make great emotional anecdotes in Trump’s stump speeches, while the enormous opportunity costs (like going from one hour a day to earn an abundance of calories to 10-12 hours + weekends to produce a sustenance level of calories) are spread across millions and cannot easily be imagined or pointed out in a stump speech.
The other problem I have with Trump is that, like most politicians, he seems weak on the Constitution and the role of government. I think he suffers from the same affliction as Obama. He believes the President’s role is to run the country rather than defend liberty. Unfortunately, many of the voters in the country have that affliction as well and vote accordingly.