The other day I wrote about the Florida straw poll that Herman Cain won by a substantial margin. I didn’t call anyone stupid or evil for supporting Cain. I laid out some facts that appear to speak against him to anyone who supports the market economy and a free society. The three I pointed to in the post were his support for TARP, his 2008 endorsement of Mitt Romney (whom Cain supporters claim they despise), and his failure to see the housing collapse coming or even to detect that something might be wrong with the bubble economy. It’s worse than that, actually — he gave the economy a clean bill of health practically until the collapse came. That is a serious problem. How can we want someone in charge at a critical moment like this whose grasp of the economy is evidently so poor?
I did not invent these things. They really happened. They need to be addressed.
Here are the replies I received from Cain supporters:
1. There’s a reason why Mr. Cain has run multi-million dollar corporations amazingly well, and you have not. Mr. Cain knows what he’s talking about, and your just a talking head rattling off rhetoric, and nonsense. You think you are better than those who lack your credentials. NEWS FLASH: YOU ARE NOT! Mr. Cain could school you in humility, which you definitely need educated in. get off your damn pedestal, at the end of the day, you aren’t special.
How many of my concerns are addressed here? Zero. Evidently it is “rhetoric” and “nonsense” to say Cain supported TARP and Romney, and didn’t perceive the housing bubble at all. It’s “rhetoric” and “nonsense” to say Americans need to understand what causes the booms and busts in our economy.
As for Cain’s ability to run businesses, what on earth does that have to do with my post?
What’s more, as Ludwig von Mises showed long ago (in Bureaucracy, Yale University Press, 1944), it is literally impossible to run government like a business. Business firms make decisions via forecasts of consumer demand, with those forecasts being informed by the existing array of prices, the profits or losses they have earned, and from general entrepreneurial insight. They then decide, on this basis, whether they have too many or too few people in customer service, in order fulfillment, or whatever; whether they should invest in more capital equipment; whether they should discontinue a whole line of products, etc.
Government can’t do this. It doesn’t make profits or losses; it merely seizes what it wants from the public. Thus it has no way of knowing what the public actually wants or the intensity with which it wants it. It can’t know if it should produce more of X or more of Y, how it should produce those things, where it should produce them, etc. It must grope in the dark. All the Ross Perots and Herman Cains in the world cannot change the nature of government, which is a non-market institution.
2. Herman Cain is by far the strongest supporter of the FairTax. That gets him my vote.
Granted, this one also doesn’t answer any of my objections, but at least it’s polite. My reply:
I would think we’d want opponents of taxes, not supporters. He said in Florida that any tax reform must be revenue neutral. That alone disqualifies him.
Anything revenue neutral is a bad idea. I guess I just don’t share the optimism of the FairTax people, who seem to think the system is basically fine but just needs to be funded differently. Say what?
The only way this monster is going to be cut down to size is if serious, radical changes are made, including repealing taxes and not replacing them with anything. Any other approach is just another shell game, another example of D.C. fakery. “Tax reform” is always and everywhere a D.C. trick. Tax repeal is what we want.
3. I have been listening to Mr. Cain for years. Many years. I don’t see anyone who is more sincere than he. His wife doesn’t want him to be president, I heard the story that said she was miffed when some reporter said how cain couldn’t win. Because his whole life…anyone who said he couldn’t do something was proved wrong.
He’s not doing this for glory. He has plenty of other things to do with his time.
And when he supported TARP (which I did/do not) – he did get a lot of flak from people. but that’s what he thought was a good thing…I think it’s a breath of fresh air to have a candidate of ANY party that is free to speak his/her mind. That isn’t afraid to not be in lockstep with ‘the leadership.’
I don’t question his sincerity. He could be a decent guy. That’s not my gripe. The mention of TARP, which I appreciate because it at least addresses my post, is much more relevant. The fact that he thought it was a good thing isn’t an argument. You claim he “isn’t afraid to not be in lockstep with ‘the leadership,'” but on TARP he sure was!
And this is what counts: when the chips were down, he sided with the establishment: the GOP leadership, the Democratic leadership, the New York Times, and all the rest. Now I’ve heard it claimed that Cain supported the original rationale for TARP but turned on the program when it went in a different direction. But the original rationale for TARP was rotten, too. Meanwhile, Cain was lecturing “free-market purists” for opposing it.
Is that what we need? Someone who will lecture “free-market purists” — as if that were the problem in the U.S. today?
4. You really can’t handle people thinking ON THEIR OWN and believing WHAT THEY WANT and WHO THEY WANT.
Go back to Alabama where y’all are safely hidden away with your books and your Stink tank, Mr Woods.
So this one makes no argument at all. It says I am upset because people disagree with me. No, I am upset because there are serious problems with Herman Cain that his supporters refuse to address. This comment carries on that tradition.
In fact, this comment is completely irrational. People should decide on “who they want” but not actually have to defend that decision, and anyone calling on them to do so is a meanie who should just shut his mouth.
5. I have watched the debates and Cain has been the the most coherent of all the candidates. Yes he had some lapses in the libertarian orthodoxy (Jim DeMint also supported Romney in 08) but he carries himself as a leader better than all the other Republican candidates.
This is neither insulting nor irrational, so it wins the prize. But it’s no real answer.
I think we are talking more than just “lapses” in “libertarian orthodoxy.” When the chips were down, he went with the establishment and supported TARP. I’m supposed to believe that the next time the chips are down he’ll be a maverick? Sure.
That someone would make a decision based on something as superficial as how a candidate “carries himself” is deeply disturbing and, unfortunately, quite revealing. If he can’t perceive the signs of a bubble economy, I don’t care if he’s Spencer Tracy on stage.
So my question is, are there Cain supporters out there who will reply to my concerns straightforwardly and without insulting me? Again, I want to know why his support for Romney (of all people!) isn’t a cause for concern, why his support for TARP isn’t an indication that he’ll support the next scam the establishment promotes as a necessary emergency measure, and why we should want someone making decisions about the economy who completely failed to diagnose its true condition in the years leading up to the collapse.