On a vacation to California last summer, my family and I were robbed.
After getting off our flight, we decided to spend a day in San Francisco before meeting with relatives. Our first stop was Golden Gate Park, where we left our rental car parked on Nancy Pelosi Drive for about 45 minutes. When we came back, our rear window was smashed and thousands of dollars worth of belongings were stolen.
When we contacted the police, we quickly learned that there would be no follow-up or attempted resolution of the crime. A few google searches later, I had a pretty good idea as to why. San Francisco, already a national leader in property crime, had recently elected a progressive district attorney.
Rather than act befitting of a chief law enforcement officer and top prosecutor, Chesa Boudin used his power as DA to effectively relax criminal law by refusing to prosecute certain crimes, eliminating cash bail, and failing to incarcerate even the most egregious repeat offenders.
When combined with the asinine policy of springing criminals from jail over coronavirus concerns, law enforcement was stretched to a breaking point. Arresting a career criminal (judging from the speed our devices were wiped) was no longer a luxury the San Francisco PD could afford.
Why even bother when the suspect would be released and re-released without bail?
Anyone with common sense could have seen this outcome coming from a mile away. The one universally agreed-upon purpose of law enforcement is to disincentivize citizens from committing crime. Boudin’s progressive reforms eroded this disincentive, and the Bay Area felt the effects almost immediately.
While this outcome is tragic, we can at least find some solace in the finality of the evidence. Surely the case is closed, the issue is resolved, and Boudin’s reforms are to be thrown on the ash heap of history?
I jest, but reality has a funny way of asserting itself when reformers ignore the laws of social and economic gravity.
Consider the recent economic numbers that have amplified concerns over rising inflation and a growing labor shortage. In April, employment growth fell a staggering 700,000 jobs short of predictions, and inflation saw a massive surge.
An honest economic analysis would implicate Biden’s American Rescue Plan as a contributing factor for these troubling numbers. In an economy primed for recovery and growth post-COVID-19, the plan extended enhanced unemployment benefits and further bloated the monetary supply.
With many learning that they can continue to make more on unemployment than by working (all the way until September), it should shock no one that businesses are struggling to hire at pre-pandemic wages as the economy begins to recover from COVID-19.
When an economy is flush with cash and short on labor, more dollars are going to chase a comparatively stagnant amount of productivity. This is what is happening when businesses raise wages because of competition with unemployment checks. It doesn’t take an economist to see how the dollar could inflate as a result.
In evaluating the extent to which these factors explain the labor shortage, Democrats are in a political bind. Progressives see higher wages as a victory for workers and celebrate the expanded unemployment as a vehicle for economic justice. For them, the labor shortage is a desirable outcome of Biden’s stimulus as it forces businesses to pay their “fair share” to workers.
Moderate Democrats (perhaps remembering the political ruin that was stagflation under Carter) are wary of inflation and quick to dismiss the labor shortage as a puzzling mystery. While still supportive of the stimulus, they recognize the danger of a squandered economic recovery.
Progressives commonly dismiss inflation and labor shortages as purely academic concerns, but they should be wary of inciting a second Reagan Revolution with misguided government policy and anemic growth.
Ron DeSantis is echoing pro-growth concerns with his skepticism toward expanded unemployment benefits. His potential presidential bid would gain a powerful talking point if these concerns are validated by a stagnant economy and an inflating currency.
While my father was reeling after being robbed in San Francisco, he drew a parallel to the Spanish politics of his youth: “We see ourselves as socialists, but when everything is screwed up, we close our eyes and vote for the conservatives.”
Irving Kristol defined a neoconservative as “a liberal who has been mugged by reality.” If current trends continue, expect a figure like DeSantis to ride this disillusionment into the White House.
Check out other recent articles from Florida Political Review here.
Featured Image: Caricature of Biden. Unmodified photo by DonkeyHotey used under a Creative Commons License (https://bit.ly/2Sr5ngp).