Thursday, July 11, 2019

Good Riddance Ross Perot

Ross Perot
By Robert Wenzel

Ross Perot died on Monday at the age of 89.

He was in many ways the first political Trump but he was nerdy, had a military-style haircut instead of a combover, and a deep Texas twang instead of a mild New York accent.

He was a billionaire like Trump and ran for president like Trump, though, unlike Trump, he lost in two election bids.

But where they were soulmates is in their ignorance of economic principles and their overconfidence, the fatal conceit, that they could "run" the country. Like Trump, his pompous posturing caught the ear of the masses. With Perot it was enough to get him 18.9% of the vote in the 1992 election, while Trump, 24 years later, managed to gain enough of the electoral vote to win the 2016 presidential election.

But make no mistake, Perot was a serious technocratic crank, that is, an early-stage socialist.

Bernie Sanders understands this. He tweeted:
Like Trump, he was terrible on trade and saw the Japanese, Chinese and Germans as evil competitors.

One memorable line from his 1992 campaign, "We used to think of Chinese as just growing rice. Well, they are doing much more than that now."

He called for "public investment programs" to "catch-up" to foreigners that he said were "intelligently supporting business in partnership with government."

He had concerns about the budget deficit but didn't see the shrinking of government as the only sound solution.

He called for increased businesses taxes, a tax on the rich (supposedly just "the top 4%"), the elimination of interest rate deductions on mortgages for second homes and on mortgages over $250,000.

Then, of course, he was for closing the great and important tax loopholes and wanted a fairer tax system. But he did call for some never well-defined lower tax rates for individuals (except for the "rich").

He did, though, call for a very well-defined tax hike that would pretty much impact most of America. He called for a hike in the Federal gasoline tax by 50 cents a gallon.

His one saving grace was that he did object to George H.W. Bush's first invasion of Iraq.

That said, he overall called on "sacrifice by all Americans," which means he was preparing more interventions in the lives of Americans.

So I am shedding no tears for his passing and I only wish that his technocratic, statist, economically ignorant policy positions will soon experience the same death that he has.

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of EconomicPolicyJournal.comand Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bankand most recently Foundations of Private Property Society Theory: Anarchism for the Civilized Person Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn. His youtube series is here: Robert Wenzel Talks Economics. More about Wenzel here.


  1. While he was a terrible presidential candidate, his $20 million early investment in NeXT Computer Inc. was hugely important in the late 1980s. It gave Steve Job's new venture both cash and credibility. I programmed on this platform from the late '80s through the 1990s, and NeXT's software architecture became the backbone of Apple's infrastructure. It's entirely possible we would not have today's Apple platform were it not for Perot.

    People are more than just their politics. Most people have pretty nutty political views. The very idea that one can engineer society through "force from the ballot box" is nutty in itself. In my mind, Perot was flawed, but he also did some great things.

    1. Motorola black NeXT machines are still my favorites of the wide variety of computers and operating systems I've used. What they did to NeXTSTEP to make it appeal to mac users (making it like macOS which I always disliked) ruined it for me.

    2. I don't like Apple's interface as much as NeXTSTEP's, but most the underlying software architecture came from NeXT, and it's still a strong platform. Also, IOS derives from this as well.

      It should also be noted that Perot's investment would be close to $50 million in today's dollars. It was not an insubstantial investment.

    3. I would agree that people are more than their politics.
      Until they run for or achieve office. Then their politics matter more.

  2. I saw through his statism and economic ignorance back then, but had friends who fell for it. I was a newly-minted Libertarian back then...callow, naive, wide-eyed and exhilarated over my new-found paradigm. My, how I've grown since then...!

    1. He was a smart business man but just like Joshua Bennet said when you seek power that shouldn't be a shield against holding or advocating for terrible policies. Also the guy was a huge drug warrior who had ideas that would make Jeff Sessions look like a "anti-cop" liberal

  3. And who will shed tears at your passing, Mr Wenzel. Poor timing for this article and low brow class on your part. Thanks for alerting me to your morals, I will keep that in mind for future reference.

    1. We can only hope that if RW passes it will be at the hands of one of those wonderful illegal immigrants that he thinks should flood the country and make the US into a turd world state with nukes.

  4. I thought, at the time, that he was nuts. During the campaign, when he started to gain traction with the blue collar rhetoric, he self-destructed. I believe that he was running ONLY to insure that Clinton would win by splitting the Republican vote. What he got in return, I don't know but I bet buck he got something. He fooled a lot of people, but not me.

  5. RW, I agree some of his prescriptions may have been off base in some ways, but you have to hand it to the guy for producing something of value to America. At least he wanted to do something for Americans without grafting the system like the criminal Bush and Clinton families. He certainly would not have approved of technology transfers to China and would have questioned some things even if he did not have the votes in Congress. He was a harsh critic of the first Iraq war and said some sensible things on that issue.

    You can't see past your libertardian economic theories to see that you are wrong. NAFTA did everything Perot predicted, but according to libertardians we should all be working at fast food making $20 an hour which never happened.

    Let us not forget Perot spent some money to get his men who were held hostage in Iran. How many American CEO's would do that for their employees instead of writing them off as a human resource?

    1. ---"NAFTA did everything Perot predicted"--

      It did not. Perot was totally, conpletely wrong. Where are you getting that assertion from, if not from where the sun don't shine?