Hillary Clinton may not be as skilled an orator as Barack Obama, nor as wily a politician as her husband Bill, but she’s absolutely mastered the art of speaking out of both sides of her mouth.
The well-honed talent was expertly displayed in her most recent speech, in which she attempted to lay out her economic agenda, but really only succeeded in showing her desire to be on every side of every issue lest someone disagree.
She wants to be known as a “small business president,” while also layering burdensome new regulations on top of them. She wants to “empower entrepreneurs,” but also wants to tell them what is “good for businesses.” She says she doesn’t want to “leave talent on the sidelines,” but she’s quick to criticize other candidates who want to break down barriers to full-time work. She recognizes that we “are in a global competition,” and then falsely excoriates free trade for “hollowing out our manufacturing base.” She believes the “marketplace focuses too much on the short-term,” but somehow thinks that politicians, which are always thinking about the next election, are the solution. And she claims that she wants “to build an America for tomorrow, not yesterday,” despite the fact that much of her agenda would have felt right at home in the 1930s.
Her desire to use government to mold the future, while so clearly having two feet stuck in the past should raise real concerns for Millennials, whose ingenuity and innovations are already making a tremendous mark on the economy. It’s clear that despite her paean to entrepreneurs about “unleashing innovation,” Clinton is fearful of progress and is looking for support among those who benefit from maintain the status quo. That view came into sharp focus when Clinton was discussing the so-called “gig economy,” an obvious attempt to re-brand the “sharing economy,” as something trivial and questionable.
Innovative companies like AirBnB, Lyft, Uber, Zaarly, Etsy, and TaskRabbit, Clinton was willing to admit, are not “going away.” But, according to her, they are part of a trend that is “polarizing our economy” and “displacing and downgrading blue-collar jobs” and therefore cannot be allowed to “determine our destiny.” So who will write the future? Why Hillary Clinton, of course!
“As president, I will work with every possible partner to turn the tide to make these currents work for us more than against us . . .,” she promises.
The problem that Hillary Clinton and other progressives (who, despite the name, always tend to dislike progress) can’t seem to grasp is that the sharing economy arose because entrenched, cartel-like industries were already working against us. A start-up like Uber is alimentary, not alarming, because it broadens our choices as consumers, improves our experience as users, and adds opportunities for workers looking to make an extra bit of money outside the constructs of a rigid workplace. That we have been able to achieve all of this some computer code and a few smartphone apps is definitely mind-blowing, but that’s what technological progress tends to look like.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Clinton just doesn’t get it. Perhaps she’s nostalgic for the so called “good ol’ days,” though I’m not sure if there were fond memories to be had while waiting for a dirty cab, paying a hotel exorbitant amounts for a hard mattress and a cheap TV, or having the price of middle-men embedded in the goods we buy. Or maybe she senses her obsolescence and is going out fighting, the last throes of a candidate who claims she violated federal record keeping regulations because she didn’t know that she could have two email addresses on one cell phone.
Whatever the reason, it’s not quaint, it’s not cute, it’s a catastrophe. Young adults are already beholden to the exorbitant debts left by our spendthrift forebears in government, must we also be chained to their backwards economic views? I would sure hope not. Because while they may benefit from the crony capitalism that encourages regulators to tax, control and regulate the economy to the benefit of existing moneyed interests and to the exclusion of plucky upstarts, young adults do not.
Instead, we see the power of technology; its ability to democratize knowledge, expand our freedom and stretch our dollar. And we know that our generation can harness it to do better than Washington’s failures. So while Hillary Clinton is no doubt adept at crafting a speech meant to woo voters, neither she nor anyone federal government is capable of micromanaging our new, vibrant sharing economy.