Dinosaur Democrats Hurl Animal Insults At American Business

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2017/07/25/dinosaur-democrats-hurl-animal-insults-at-american-business/

The New York Times, which last year editorialized against voting for Donald Trump for president because he “has so coarsened our politics” that he would fail as an “example” for “our children,” now offers — in a single day — one op-ed describing the president’s new communications director as “a Wall Street snake,” and another, from the Democratic Party’s leader in the U.S. Senate, denouncing “vulture capitalists … egregiously raising the price of lifesaving drugs without justification.”

Between the snakes and the vultures, it’s almost enough to make a reader yearn for the comparatively tame days of the Obama administration, when people were taken aback by the president’s use of the term “fat cat bankers on Wall Street.” 

In a political climate in which Republicans proudly don elephant-branded paraphernalia and Democrats are O.K. with being symbolized by donkeys, perhaps it’s a mistake to get too worked up over animal metaphors. They’ve always made me uncomfortable — as if people were being described as somehow subhuman. But maybe I am overreacting. Maybe I should be wise like an owl, or let it slide like water off a duck’s back.

The animal insults are a colorful distraction from the fact that, on the substance, the Times and its contributors miss the mark with both the “snake” and the “vulture” attacks.

The new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, succeeded in the extremely competitive money management industry. President Barack Obama’s golf pal Robert Wolf, a Wall Street animal in his own right, told Bloomberg News that Scaramucci is “a great communicator and very charismatic … People underestimate how very smart he is.”

Scaramucci also displayed admirable resilience, persisting even after twice failing the New York bar exam and after getting fired from Goldman Sachs. He passed the bar on the third try and was eventually rehired by another part of Goldman. His innovation was making hedge funds accessible to clients with as little as $25,000 to invest. What, if anything, is snake-like about any of this is a mystery to me, though I’m no herpetologist. 

As for Senator Chuck Schumer’s claim that “Right now, there is nothing to stop vulture capitalists from egregiously raising the price of lifesaving drugs without justification,” that’s nonsense, too. Raise prices too high, and competitors will rise to the challenge. Public pressure and even criminal prosecution will be brought to bear. Government programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and the tax preference for employer-provided health benefits insulate consumers from the sticker prices of drugs. Profits from lifesaving drugs fund research and development and create incentives to discover new medicines. If anything prevents competition, it is patent laws that Schumer and his fellow Senate Democrats, and their political allies the trial lawyers, have resisted reforming.

Schumer complains, “One party says the answer is that special interests should continue to write the rules.” He is talking about the Republicans. But there are no shortage of Democrat-allied special interest rule-writers, too, from trial lawyers to teachers’ unions. I’ll resist the urge to compare them to vultures. Maybe some ornithologist out there can suggest a better bird metaphor. 

The telling part of this is that for Democrats and their allies in the press, the really scathing insults aren’t the words “snake” or “vulture” or “fat cat” but rather “Wall Street” and “capitalist” and “banker.” Until and unless Democrats stop seeing business, finance, and free enterprise as targets, villains, and scapegoats, the donkey party itself will end up like dodo birds, or dinosaurs — extinct.


Ira Stoll is editor of FutureOfCapitalism.com and author of JFK, Conservative.