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Amoral familism in America

Summary:
Dysfunctional societies tend to be tribal, and the strongest form of tribalism is family bonds. Leaders of dysfunction countries often use family ties to get around term limits. (Term limits are a method for reducing corruption.) When I was young, I recall some governors in the Deep South using their wives to get around fixed term limits. You also see this technique used in some highly corrupt countries in the third world.As the US becomes more and more like a banana republic, we are beginning to adopt what is sometimes called “amoral familism” at the national level. Consider:1. Hillary Clinton was the Democratic nominee in 2016.2. A draft Michelle Obama for VP movement is getting underway.3. Jared Kushner is called the “de facto President“.4. George Bush’s son was

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Dysfunctional societies tend to be tribal, and the strongest form of tribalism is family bonds. Leaders of dysfunction countries often use family ties to get around term limits. (Term limits are a method for reducing corruption.) When I was young, I recall some governors in the Deep South using their wives to get around fixed term limits. You also see this technique used in some highly corrupt countries in the third world.

As the US becomes more and more like a banana republic, we are beginning to adopt what is sometimes called “amoral familism” at the national level. Consider:

1. Hillary Clinton was the Democratic nominee in 2016.
2. A draft Michelle Obama for VP movement is getting underway.
3. Jared Kushner is called the “de facto President“.
4. George Bush’s son was elected president in 2000.

I will ignore any comments discussing the competence of these four individuals, which is not the point. And I don’t believe the two Democratic wives would be mere puppets, as in some other countries. And yes, this is not entirely new—Bobby Kennedy was made Attorney General.

Nonetheless, it seems to me that the problem is getting worse in the 21st century, at least at the federal level. Voters seem increasingly drawn to people based on family connections, which is a really bad sign. Just one more area where the US is becoming a bit more like a banana republic.

China is also increasingly suffering from this problem, more so than even 20 years ago.

PS. Thank God that Melania was born in Slovenia.


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Scott Sumner
Scott B. Sumner is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, the Director of the Program on Monetary Policy at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and an economist who teaches at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. His economics blog, The Money Illusion, popularized the idea of nominal GDP targeting, which says that the Fed should target nominal GDP—i.e., real GDP growth plus the rate of inflation—to better "induce the correct level of business investment".

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