An article I recently perused discussed visits to flyover country, where the Republicans that the Left loves to stereotype (see: deplorables, bitter clingers) live their lives. Among the many observations was the fact of manners – that everyone was taught, from a young age, to use “sir” and “ma’am” reflexively. As I pondered today’s blog entry, a resurrection of a partial draft originally titled ‘Big Government and Big Business’ in the context of Elizabeth Warren’s rise in the primary polls, a collision with Verbal Kint and ‘The Usual Suspects’ inspired a title that is far more fun. Some humorless scolds are bound to do what they do, but if I let that manage my blog content, I’d have nothing but blank pages.

Elizabeth Warren has a Plan. For everything, it seems (there are 51 of them on her web page). It also seems that every Plan involves more government. More oversight, more control, more scrutiny, more suspicion of all things not-government. And, more presumption of guilt, especially for Big Business and for anyone who’s made “too much” money. Too rich is Bad, and her government would serve the people by stealing from billionaires. Ditto for being too big. ‘Break up the social media giants!’ Why? Because they’re too big, and too big is Bad. Her supporters will speak of the danger of monopolies, and ignore the inconvenient reality that all the monopolies that reached the point of harming consumers were enabled and protected by Big Government.

That’s the only Big that’s OK, in Warren’s world. Apparently, there’s no upper limit on how large or intrusive government can be – it never becomes Bad (at least as long as the Best-and-Brightest are in charge).

Warren tells us that the only solution to the problems in health care and insurance is Big Government. The only solution to the problems in education – be they instructional or financial, is Big Government. The only solution to shortages in housing is Big Government. The only solution to poverty is Big Government. The only solution to the opioid epidemic is Big Government. The only solution to global warming is Big Government. And, the only solution to the rapacity and bad behavior of Big Business, real, imagined, or falsely asserted, is Big Government.

Her supporters lap it up. They even claim that she’s a capitalist (AHAHAAHAA!!!), and assert that it’s just “unbridled” capitalism that she opposes (I saw forms of that assertion enough times over the course of a week to recognize a seed planted by a narrative-writer). That all the nation needs is a bunch of big government Plans, administered by the right person, and things will be golden. More government makes everything more better, and we apparently don’t have enough.

Are we really lacking in Big Government, though? Does this purported “unbridled capitalism” exist, even in vestigial form? Have the SEC, EPA, EEOC, CPSC, FCC, FDIC, FED, FTC, FDA, ICC, NLRB, OSHA and other alphabet-soup regulatory agencies not done their jobs? If not, why? Is it because those filthy, dirty, Trumpy Republicans deregulated government and withdrew oversight? Which regulatory agencies did they dissolve?

What businesses and industries got to operate without oversight?

What’s that you say – Wall Street, Warren’s favorite bogeyman?

Please.

Wall Street is and for decades has been massively regulated. The Great Recession happened despite all that regulation, of course. Or, perhaps because of all that regulation. Lest we forget (and the socialist-wannabes and statist press would love it if we did), the housing bubble that led to the financial crisis was itself the product of government meddling. When Wall Street goes wrong, dig just a bit and you’re most apt to find government’s handiwork.

That’s just one example of many. A book of Big Government gone wrong would rival the Federal Register.

Yet, we are to believe that Warren’s Plans will fix everything. Even more government, for everything. And it’ll work this time.

Why? Because she’s a singular intellect?

Hardly.

Her record demonstrates either profound ignorance or deliberate disregard for economic truths, the facts on the ground, and basic math. Her tax Plans are primarily punishments to be meted out on everyone who’s achieved financial success, Plans that run contrary to every sound economic theory in existence. Her calls to ‘break up’ Big Tech reek of blindness to history (AOL, anyone?) and a vindictive attitude towards those who’ve brought immeasurable good and benefit to our daily lives. Her agenda seems wholly ignorant of Constitutional limits, including the confiscation of billionaires’ assets via a wealth tax (what happens to her Plans when the billionaires have all been de-billionaired is anybody’s guess).

She wants to address global warming by banning fracking and denying any new oil drilling leases. Fracking has led to both energy independence and real reductions in carbon dioxide emissions (and it’s a whole lot cleaner than coal. Particulate pollution, to which coal is a contributor, kills 30,000-300,000 a year in the US alone), but Warren disapproves, so all that good, not to mention hundreds of thousands of jobs, massive economic benefits, and the energy costs of 327 million Americans must be sacrificed to whatever pixie dust and unicorn farts her “Plan” relies on. Twice in her list of 51 Plans does she mention “clean energy,” but she not only wants to kill both the biggest cleaner-upper of recent years (fracking), she wants to also kill the cleanest of all energy sources (nuclear – currently the source of 20% of the nation’s power, and FAR more environmentally friendly than wind or solar). All to be replaced with windmills and solar panels – regardless of the nonexistence of adequate storage technology to permit total reliance on them. Great ‘Plan.’

Warren’s education Plan revolves around free college and on cancelling existing student debt (what do the people who paid their loans off get?), but there, oddly, is no ‘Plan’ for primary and secondary education, other than a muddied and inconsistent message about charters. I guess the educational disaster that is our public school system doesn’t need a ‘Plan.’ I wonder if fear of the teachers’ unions might have something to do with that (no, I don’t).

Her “Medicare For All” Plan is also lacking, in the “how you gonna pay for it” category. She got called out for it in the most recent presidential debate, both by the moderator and by the candidates, and still she wouldn’t offer an answer. Instead, she tried to sneak one past us all:

We can pay for this. I’ve laid out the basic principles. Costs are going to go up for the wealthy. They’re going to go up for big corporations. They will not go up for middle-class families.

There isn’t a whiff of “how you gonna pay for it” response in that statement. It’s merely a hand-waving assertion that the government is going to provide health care more cheaply than the private sector currently does. Problem is, it’s detached from reality and analysis, and not an analysis that’s unavailable to her. As detailed by Reason, the Sanders-Warren Plan would increase total health expenditures, and that it’s a certainty that the middle class will have to pay more. Reason’s Peter Suderman asserts that Warren is being fundamentally dishonest, and I agree. Her response boils down to “I have a Plan, trust me.”

Warren has a running history for being very loose with the truth. Whether it be about Native American heritage, her family’s supposed run-ins with racism, her being fired for being pregnant, or her claim that Michael Brown was murdered by the police, she seems untroubled by putting forth tall tales and narratives meant to garner her support and sympathy, and to play on victim and identity politics.

These tall tales are the other face of her political strategy. She offers anecdotes meant to highlight injustices (real or not), and then presents her ‘Plans’ to demonstrate that she’s the right person to fix them. It’s a combination of humanizing and wonkishness. She is indeed, the “Ma’am with the Plan.”

Whether it’s a winning strategy is yet to be determined – while she is the current frontrunner for the nomination, not a single primary vote has been cast. Much can happen before the primaries, and we’ve seen front-runners crash and burn after just the first few contests. Then there’s the general election, where she will face a very different challenge. Whereas in the primaries she and the other candidates are duking it out within the boundaries of Democratic Party politics, both traditional and driven by the socialists, Bern-bots, “squad,” and the raging Twitter-verse, the general election will require selling some pretty radical ideas to a less predisposed electorate.

That “selling” is going to be a lot harder if she continues her loose relationship with truth, facts, and inconvenient figures. Simply presenting herself as a policy wonk doesn’t convey validity to the policies she propose. If her ‘Plans’ stink or don’t hold up to scrutiny, she won’t convey the surety and confidence needed to win voters. Similarly, if her folksiness and personalizations come apart as exaggerations or outright lies (her supporters may be OK with “fake but accurate” tale-weaving, but she’ll be shredded in a general election for them), she won’t garner the good will she needs.

Warren cannot go into election day being seen as a typical politician, not when her platform is such a radical departure from the current state of things. To sell a big change, she has to sell trust and competence. Lies and half-baked ‘Plans’ aren’t going to get her there. Fellow Presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar dinged Warren with,

The difference between a plan and a pipe dream is that a plan is something you can actually get done.

Which brings us back to titles. Perhaps “Pocahontas with a Pipe Dream” tells a better tale. Warren is fond of tales, after all.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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