Infinite Wampum Theory
One of the benefits of writing a blog is interactions with readers, and I have many of them. Some lean right – even far right – and others veer off in the opposite direction, sometimes quite far. The best ones are characterized by open-mindedness and willingness to learn something from others.
In a recent exchange, a reader observed that much political difference could be explained by the belief that there is always money. The article that had caught his eye related to an alleged “c’mon there’s always money” quote by presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren. (“The way I see it, there’s always, c’mon, there’s always money. It’s there.”)
My friend, who lives in a place where that is emphatically not the case, referred to it as the “infinite wampum theory.”
In many conversations, one of which I am engaged in right now, the reference to wampum would be viewed as an unkind reference to what seems to be a notable political gaffe.
My friend also noted a long-ago LibertyPell story that invoked Scrooge McDuck and he observed that even Uncle Scrooge did not have infinite wampum.
Leaving aside polarization (at least until the end) and unkindness to disfavored political figures, I replied as follows.
The infinite wampum point is interesting. We have been treating wampum as infinite first by borrowing it and then by printing it.
Those with eyes of flint believe this to be wrong headed.
Yet we understand the campaign manager creed that the future does not matter; only the next four to eight years.
The quest to debunk the idea of a favored president (of either party) causing a flourishing economy and a rising stock market has failed. Though investment professionals would tell you that — no matter who is president — there is little presidential-political-party causality to a rising stock market or a flourishing economy, that battle for public opinion has been lost.
I tried to write that paragraph so it could apply to either a Republican or a Democrat who sought such credit. No doubt I will fail and be reprimanded, likely by a supporter of the President, given today’s political state of play.
Curiously, no president is ever responsible for a falling market or a sputtering economy. I say “curiously” because, if a president is wholly responsible for prosperity, how can he bear no responsibility whatever for its absence?
Equally curiously, no Democrat believes a Republican assertion of his side causing prosperity and no Republican believes the same assertion made by a Democrat. There does seem to be a correlation between the correct answer to this question and being out of power.
Fortunately for campaign strategists, it does not appear that we have reached “peak voter stupidity.” Deception techniques are improving faster than common sense, though there is some polling suggesting that people are tiring of the current levels of spinning and feuding.
Since there is money to be made by encouraging it, however, I would not bet against polarization.
And, since James Carville (it’s the economy, stupid) is viewed as an oracle, I would not bet against both parties taking credit for the economy and stock market when they are good and blaming their opponents when they are bad. Nor would I bet against continuing espousal of the “infinite wampum theory” though it is now called Modern Monetary Theory.