Saturday, July 6, 2019

Marxist Perspectives on White House Staff Turnover

The labor theory of value (a.k.a., law of value) is an aspect of Marxist theory that still thrives in the marketplace of ideas.  It values anything and everything according to how much labor went into it.

Therefore, for example, Ben Rhodes contributed at least thrice more to the Federal government than, say, Brian Blase because Rhodes served 96 months in the Obama White House (as Deputy National Security Advisor) while Blase served only 29 (as Special Assistant to President Trump for Healthcare Policy).

But let's look at why Rhodes' tenure was 96 months whereas Blase's was 29.  Chapter 23 of Rhodes' memoirs explains that as of 2014 (roughly 70 months in), he expected that his policy accomplishments were still unfinished.
  • Normalizing relations with Cuba (to my personal benefit) did not begin until the 71st month; the President's trip to Cuba was in the 86th month.
  • The Iran deal was not reached until the 78th month.
  • Intervention in Libya (26th month) may have felt like a policy success at the time (Chapter 18 quotes President Obama as saying "In Libya, everything went right--we saved thousands of lives, we didn't have a single casualty...").
Brian Blase's important policy accomplishments came sooner.  He led three (sic) Federal agencies to coauthor three transformative Federal deregulatory actions that were celebrated in the White House Rose Garden in Blase's 29th month.
Indeed, these health insurance deregulations accomplished in 29 months have, as a share of national income, net benefits that are more than half of the legendary deregulation of airlines that began during the Carter Administration, which took more than twice the time that health insurance deregulation did.

Another example is Andrew Bremberg, who served 24 months as President Trump's Director of the Domestic Policy Council.  He had many accomplishments during that time, the most legendary being his leadership of the Administration and the 115th Congress to deregulate by way of the Congressional Review Act.
  • Measured in terms of economic impact, this work was prolific.
  • 16 separate pieces of legislation deregulated education, mining, retirement accounts, and more.  They are expected to increase annual real incomes by more than $40 billion.
  • All of this was achieved in only 15 months.
COS General Kelly (17 months) is another example.  He came early in the Administration when more efficient operating procedures were needed and, as in earlier Administrations (this one had its first-year middle-east policy dictated by leaks), leaks needed to be reduced.  Like Doug Collins did for the Jordan-era Chicago Bulls, General Kelly improved the organization.  With Kelly's accomplishments in place, it was time for a different set of talents.  Mulvaney is the White House's Phil Jackson with both political successes (i.e., winning elections himself) and an impressive analytical mind.

Undoubtedly there are Trump Administration officials with both short tenures and short accomplishments.  But the above is enough to show how misleading are the turnover statistics.

You might assert that Blase and Bremberg had easier jobs than Rhodes did because the former were "merely" undoing actions of a previous Administration.  That assertion certifies mastery of the labor theory of value.

[The labor theory of value has endured since Marx.  Other important parts of Marxist theory did not, but made a comeback recently.  I will write about those next.]

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