“Kickback Capitalism” Undermines Economic & Medical Health

EDITOR’s NOTE: Fentanyl is the poison that is killing our fellow Americans.

“Kickback Capitalism” is the poison that is killing our American economy and our politics.


Originally published in the Wall Street Journal on March 5, by Andy Kessler as:

The Rise of Kickback Capitalism

What the government does best is throw your tax money at favored constituents.

Real capitalism is, by definition, a meritocracy in which money flows to those providing the highest returns. No modifiers needed.

Collectivism always fails for lack of meritocracy. America’s rugged individualism makes it most compatible with real capitalism.

Sure, the U.S. always has had some patronage and cronyism. Elections are expensive, after all.

But now we’ve entered an era of kickback capitalism, which has created a mangy mob of meritless mooches.

What kickbacks? Start with up to $20,000 in student-loan forgiveness for tens of millions of voters who took on debt to overpay for college. Those who saved and paid retail get nothing. While it’s likely to be struck down by the Supreme Court, it’s also a kickback to universities that constantly raise prices and hire more administrators.

In 2021 the average university had 45 diversity, equity and inclusion officers, according to a Heritage Foundation report.

But isn’t buying votes illegal? I looked it up—18 U.S. Code 597: “Whoever makes or offers to make an expenditure to any person, either to vote or withhold his vote, or to vote for or against any candidate . . . if the violation was willful, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.”

Well, Mr. Biden does have two more years in office. Big government is all the big guy knows.

The thing it does best is throw your tax money at favored constituents. Since Covid hit, the U.S. has deployed $11 trillion in spending, loans, disbursements and asset purchases. You thought markets allocated capital?

The Inflation Reduction Act includes $369 billion for electric vehicles and other green gobblers along with protectionist barriers. Smoot-Hawley redux.

And yes, Donald Trump’s China tariffs also were meant to pay off protectionist supporters.

The Inflation Reduction Act also tosses another $64 billion down the bottomless well of ObamaCare.

It’s hard to summarize all the kickbacks in the $1.9 trillion 2021 America Rescue Plan: $350 billion for state and local government and mostly public union employees, up to $91 billion for pension guarantees, another $36 billion to bail out union pension funds.

And don’t forget $1,400 means-tested stimulus checks.

The American Rescue Plan also has $122 billion for K-8 public education, which can’t go to teacher salaries and so will probably fund DEI, administration and social-emotional learning consultants.

Add unemployment benefits and extensions and employee-retention credits that pay people not to work. And eviction moratorium extensions.

Then top it with cash payments to families and child-care subsidies. Pork city. “Not necessarily all kosher economics” indeed.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom was even more blatant, sending out $400 tax-refund debit cards to buy gasoline.

The only thing missing was his picture on the card.

Meanwhile, three weeks before midterm elections, the Biden administration drew down the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower prices.

Corporate America loves handouts too. Semiconductor companies waddled to the trough for Chips and Science Act slop. Shame on Intel for pushing this through.

Now the companies must provide child care and share “excess” profits. Did they agree eventually to unionize chip workers in their Ohio fabs?

I hope not. Speaking of unions, even though labor strikes were up 52% in 2022, the administration keeps pushing the Protecting the Right to Organize Act to boost unions, which would cause price increases for many staples. More Bidenflation.

In a February executive order, Mr. Biden “embedded a focus on equity into the fabric of federal policymaking” claiming it will lead to “better decision-making and more equitable outcomes”—and more kickbacks to favored constituents.

Equitable outcomes are collectivist, with capital diverted unproductively to buy votes.

Without individual empowerment, meritocracy vanishes and capitalism stops working.

With unaesthetic kickback capitalism …. maybe that’s the intent.

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