Donald Trump’s Demagoguery—–The Dangers And Digressions Of It


I am in the throes of finishing a book on the upheaval represented by the Trump candidacy and movement. It is an exploration of how 30 years of Bubble Finance policies at the Fed, feckless interventions abroad and mushrooming Big government and debt at home have brought America to its current ruinous condition.

It also delves into the good and bad of the Trump campaign and platform and outlines a more consistent way forward based on free markets, fiscal rectitude, sound money, constitutional liberty, non-intervention abroad, minimalist government at home and decentralized political rule.

In order to complete the manuscript on a timely basis, I will not be doing daily posts for the next week or two. Instead, I will post excerpts from the book that crystalize its key themes and which also relate to the on-going gong show in the presidential campaigns and in the financial and economic arenas.  The eighth of these is included below.

I am also working with my partners at Agora Financial on a new version of Contra Corner. More information on that will be coming early next month.

Trumped Final



Trump’s Demagoguery——The Dangers and Digressions of It

Donald Trump’s inchoate views on economics are mainly a virtue because he has not been schooled in the follies of bipartisan fiscal and monetary “stimulus policy”. Essentially, the Beltway’s statist practitioners of the great bipartisan economic policy consensus are advocates of CINO (capitalism in name only).

By contrast, whether the business empire Trump claims to have built is all it’s cracked-up to be (by him) or not, there is a secret sauce to it that the mainstream liberal media fails to grasp. They would find it downright frightening if it did.

To wit, Trump’s incessant bragging about his business prowess and accomplishments is not merely or even mainly an unbridled and uncouth expression of egotism and self-absorption. Actually, it is a profession of faith—–a policy statement—–that America’s capitalist economy grows owing to what capitalists like himself do, not because of the “policy” interventions of the Imperial City’s knaves, crooks and scolds.

To some considerable degree, “making America great” is about unleashing the nation’s capitalists again. It’s an expression that prosperity is not bestowed by the state but won by the kind of builders, investors, innovators and workers that The Donald fancies to be the essence of Trump Inc.

To that extent, Donald Trump could be regarded as an incipient anti-statist. While this might seem like an overly generous characterization, it is a measure, alas, of the degree to which the bipartisan “policy” consensus against him has congealed around what is essentially a Keynesian axiom of endless macroeconomic intervention and “stimulus”.

To be sure, the GOP proposes to accomplish the fiscal stimulus side of this task via “tax cuts” for business and “job creators” everywhere and always. By contrast, the Democrats favor the targeting of “tax credits” and spending increases to constituencies mainly inside the DNC political umbrella such as education, medicaid and green energy. Both are not loathe in the slightest, however, to charge-off the trillions of fiscal leakage to our mountainous national debt.

And both parties are fully onboard, of course, with the massive fraud that has become central bank policy both here and around the world.

The Fed has actually purchased $4 trillion of Treasury debt and GSE securities since the year 2000 and funded it with credits conjured from thin air. This has been a monumental act of “something for nothing” economics in which the trillions Congress has wasted on war and peace have been financed with digital money magic.

So when it comes to economics, it is hard to see how Trump could end up more statist than the bipartisan status quo. But the problem is that Donald Trump has a domineering and authoritarian personality and extreme penchant for believing in the efficacy of his own personal force of action.

In fact, he undoubtedly fancies himself as Horatius at the Bridge, but the truth of the matter is that he seems to have far more tendencies toward the opposite. Namely, the proverbial man on the white horse.

For constitutionalists this should be a cause for concern during any season, but in the current fraught environment it’s a clanging alarm bell. That is, a genuine capitalist like Trump is unlikely to see the state as a battering ram for economic recovery and prosperity. But when it comes to the threat of crime and terrorism, his glandular impulses go all the wrong way.

Donald Trump is, in fact, an incipient police statist. He offers himself as the “strongman” who will marshal all of the vast resources and coercive powers of the state to protect an imperiled and fearful citizenry from a wave of crime and terrorist attacks.

But unlike the Horatius of roman lore, there are no Etruscan hordes of criminals or terrorists at the bridges of America’s 19,345 towns and cities. Virtually 99.9% of them are safe, secure and peaceful almost all of the time——save for motorists reading their i-Phones.

The purported crime and terrorism wave, in fact, is essentially a figment of cable news version of reality TV, and most especially the CNN War Channel and its perennial Black versus Blue &White race narrative.

Needless to say, Donald Trump has great difficulty distinguishing the actual facts on these matters from the simulacrum of reality conveyed by cable TV because he is a product of that very thing. Without his 11-year run on “The Apprentice”, the nation would have been stuck with Clinton versus Bush redux.

On the purported domestic “crime wave” that rang from the rafters during the GOP convention in Cleveland, however, it’s not even a close call. According to the FBI data there has been an astonishing 50% reduction in the U.S. violent crime rate since the early 1990s.

That’s not just a little bit of improvement or a heartening directional vector; it’s a powerfully embedded trend and slam-dunk proof that the last thing America needs is a Washington led war on crime, and especially a White House pre-occupied with it.

Donald Trump is not only dead-wrong about the purported crime wave, but in blatantly demagogueing the issue he is inflaming cable TV’s Black versus Blue & White narrative, thereby fueling the establishment’s specious argument that he is not qualified to be President because he is “divisive”.

The latter charge, of course, is too rich for words. What the establishment’s economic and war policies actually do is to essentially pit the 1% against the 90%. Yet by foolishly flogging the crime card The Donald threatens to obfuscate the socioeconomic class divide that is at the heart of the real crisis which stalks the nation.

Yes, in selective cities like Chicago and Baltimore there has been a surge in violent crime rates. But those are examples of the rotating exceptions which, as the chart above proves beyond a shadow of doubt, have been more than off-set by the overwhelming trend of sharply declining violent crime rates throughout the US.

Yet Trump’s anti-crime digression is not the half of it. The entire cable reality-TV narrative about police killings of civilians and the killing of officers on duty by criminals is entirely about goosing viewership ratings, not about rising homicide rates. In truth, there is no epidemic of either—–just a massive, unwarranted, sensationalized and context-free excess of media coverage.

Regrettably, Trump has embraced the non-existent war on cops hook, line and sinker. Yet during the three years ending in 2014, the number of on-duty police officer deaths was lower than at any time since 1960!

And, as the chart below makes clear, well less than half of the 126 deaths in 2014 were due to the deliberate shooting of cops by criminals. A much larger portion was due to traffic accidents involving patrolman and other causes such as heart attacks——perhaps prompted by too many donuts in the line of duty.

Total U.S. Police Deaths On Duty


In fact, the actual rate of intentional, felonious killings per 100,000 officers has been plummeting for decades. During 2014 it was actually 71% lower than the year Ronald Reagan left office.

Nor can some run-rate blip extracted from recent months or a rash of headline events like the recent Dallas assassinations negate that truth. The police forces of America are not suddenly imperiled by cop-killers, and, in fact, police work is not even among the top 10 most hazardous occupations.

There are about 750,000  sworn police officers in the US, so the above result for 2014 computes to about 17 deaths on the job per 100,000. That’s way below logging workers at 128 per 100,000, pilots at 53 per 100,000, garbage collectors at 37 per 100,000 and even farmers and ranchers at 21.3 per 100,000.

That Donald Trump has chosen to pound the tables on this issue is indicative of his dangerous penchant for reality TV theatrics and his fundamental confusion between courageous and honest political leadership and further aggrandizement of an already overly strong central state.

Under any sound notion of Federalism, in fact, community policing is a function for local and state governments, not the grandees and pooh-bahs of the Beltway.

Even were the crime rate stats no so dramatically favorable, full-throated demagoguery in behalf of America’s police forces should have no place in a Presidential campaign; and more importantly, there is no reason whatsoever for Washington to even be involved in legislating criminal law and the operational machinery of its enforcement.

To the contrary, the places where most of the nation’s violent crimes and assaults on law enforcement officers actually occur—–a few dozen large urban areas—-have not been helped by the Federal government at all. They have actually been put in harm’s way.

Indeed, when viewed in longer-term prospective it is evident that the two pulses of gun-related police deaths in the last century were caused by Washington’s follies—–first prohibition in the 1920s and then the Federal “war on drugs” incepting the 1970s.

To wit, abolish the Federal “war on drugs” entirely and turn the distribution of all currently banned “controlled substances” over to Phillip Morris and other law-abiding purveyors of legal poisons and a good share of even the criminal violence we do have would eventually disappear. And that would especially be true if the prisons and jails were emptied of drug users and traffickers.

That’s because in its infinite folly, the Federal government and its state and local government fellow travelers have incarcerated upwards of 1.0 million drug law offenders on the grounds that they are being punished while society is being protected.

That’s balderdash. Society doesn’t need any protection from vending machines, sidewalk emporiums or other legal forms of commerce that could readily distribute any drugs which today are controlled by violent globe spanning cartels and the vicious underground networks they operate in local communities.

Likewise, the bulging prisons and jailhouses full of drug offenders are not punishing anyone. To the contrary, they are taxpayer funded trade schools for criminals.

In short, eliminate the federal drug and seizure laws and segue the drug business to the tobacco companies, banks and Colorado-style pot entrepreneurs and the trend in the chart below would head even closer towards zero per 100,000.

In fact, hugging the zero bound is exactly where this rate stands in England and numerous other outposts of civilization.

As to the other side of the coin, the cops in America are at once way over-militarized, and also way-over-mandated with the enforcement of Nanny State laws that give them too many excuses to exercise lethal force against citizens. Very simply put, get them out of narcotics, prostitution, gambling and related social control missions and they will kill far fewer people. Furthermore, take back their armored vehicles and other military gear and they will have far fewer Rambo-tendencies.

Even then, excessive police use of force and unjustifiable killings are not a national epidemic, and do not require heavy-handed Federal intervention. As the FBI computes it, the annual number of so-called “justifiable homicides” by police officers has been relatively constant at around 400 per year for two decades.

Even if those numbers are suspect because the characterization as “justifiable” is largely police determined and reported, the chart below does not remotely justify the nightly derby of purported police violence purveyed by two of the most gullible empty suits in cable journalism—–Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon.

Half the time they have the story wrong because the purported “innocent victims” weren’t all that—-such as the Michael Brown  case in Ferguson. Besides, the liberal media narrative vastly exaggerates the facts and fails to point out that if there is any fault to be ascribed, it is to the local sheriffs, police chiefs and city governments that are not doing their job of managing and disciplining the law enforcement officers under their command.

If Donald Trump must engage on an issue that isn’t even among the Top 10 priorities with regard to cleaning the stables in the Imperial City, let him heap a fusillade of tweets at the real culprits like Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago.

Even when more objective and broader measures of police use of fatal force are considered, the cable reality news narrative doesn’t really hold up.

The highest numbers reported are from a private tracking project called “fatal encounters”, where the number for the 28 states with a “complete” history appears to have doubled since the year 2000. But the problem with this version is that it makes no effort to distinguish between justifiable use of police firearms against threatening criminals and civilian killings which should have never happened.

At the end of the day, the overwhelming message of the data is that there is no crime wave nor an eruption of police violence on either the giving or receiving end. Donald Trump is on a wild goose chase, and it’s precisely one that serves the ferocious campaign of the ruling elites to discredit his candidacy.

This is even more true of The Donald’s shrill remonstrations about the dangers of domestic terrorist attacks. After 15 years it is abundantly evident that the horrific attack of 9/11 was a complete fluke that could have been readily thwarted by alert intelligence work, and even then it only happened because of the complicity of Saudi Arabia officials…….