Some of us who think of ourselves as populists — or just ordinary people, hence “outsiders” — are having a hard time this political season. The two most talked-about outsider candidates, billionaire Donald Trump and socialist Bernie Sanders, make for strange populists.
A billionaire as a “man of the people”? Not very plausible. It is his lack of a self-censor, his free-wheeling, stream-of-conscious grade-school-level discourse, that impresses many folks. Definitely not scripted.
A socialist as populist? Socialism, long associated with elitists, would put the State into every area of everyday life. Most folks with horse sense resist that.
But Trump and Sanders do have something in common. They rely upon common misconceptions about everyday market life. They both fan the flames of conspiracy theories about prices.
When the price of fuel was spiking a few years ago, Bernie Sanders warned us: “Forget what you may have read about the laws of supply and demand. Oil and gas prices have almost nothing to do with economic fundamentals.” It’s all greed, you see: arbitrary power.
But, as Daniel Bier reminds us at The Freeman, believing that businesses are superpowers out to screw us with ever-rising prices, unhampered by supply and demand, is not just socialist silliness, it’s Billionaire Trump silliness, too — four years ago, the developer not only trumpeted the idea that we simply threaten OPEC for lower prices, but suggested we actually seize foreign oil fields.
This is not common sense. It’s crankism.
It’s the kind of thing folks say when they’re drunk.
Maybe on power.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
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