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Kamalanomics (Kamala Harris on Economic Policy)
June 8, 2019
by William P. Meyers

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Does Kamala Harris Know Much About Business or Economics?

"According to our estimates, the optimal top tax rate in the developed countries is probably above 80%."—Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century

I am nearing the end of Capital in the Twenty-First Century. I read the above quote. I have followed Piketty's reasoning and agree with his conclusion. Then I think: I am supporting Kamala Harris for President. Would she support this? Would she say so if she did? Has she read the book? How extensive is her knowledge of business and economics? The same questions should apply to the other candidates. If I had to pick one candidate who likely read Piketty, it would be Elizabeth Warren.

Then there is Donald Trump. He claims to understand economics because he is a businessman. Not just any businessman, but one of the greats. The economy is doing pretty well so far, though it was clearly going in the right direction before he took office. What happens in the debates, let's say if Kamala wins the primary. Will people believe Donald is right because he pretends to be a billionaire, and Kamala has been a life-long lawyer?

We live in an era of specialization. Kamala has been busy, For the People, since she got her first job as a deputy district attorney. Knowing criminal law, or civil law, in detail does not mean you know what it is like to be a farmer, factory worker, small business owner, or banker. Being an expert at even two things is unusual in our society.

Kamala seems very smart, so in the ordinary course of things she has doubtless picked up some knowledge of business and economics. She would have cabinet secretaries and other advisors if she became President.

Still, Donald Trump has shown that a little stupidity can go a long way. Sometimes it seems like his advisors pull him back from disastrous policies, but often his advisors push him to do nutty things.

Maybe she is on the record somewhere, but I have not heard Kamala talk of economic philosophy. Her proposals that involve economics, so far, tend to be promises to particular voting groups. Nothing wrong with more pay for teachers and some subsidies for lower income Americans. But where is she on trade? On financial market regulation? On tax rates for income, capital gains, and inheritances? Does she think Venezuela's economy failed because it is socialist, or because it is mismanaged? Are free markets generally good, just needing regulation from time to time, or are they generally bad, to be used only when socialist mechanisms are too confining?

My estimation is that Kamala is somewhere in the spectrum between a New Deal/Great Society democrat and a democratic socialist. She is Progressive, but the devil is in the details. The earth is facing an unprecedented ecological crisis. That is certain to lead to social and economic crises. It would not be surprising if the next President finds herself in the position of Roosevelt in January 1933: needing to take unprecedented action.

I am adding the need to do more research on Kamala Harris and the other candidates to my To Do list. If you follow this blog, I'll let you know what I find.

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