Rather, the populists seem to believe that government intervention, regulation, and restrictions on individual choice would result in the same prosperity we have today, but without the disruption and “creative destruction,” in Schumpeter’s famous phrase.
But growth and disruption are inseparable. Improvements in living standards come about through the experimentation that the market economy allows. Entrepreneurs pour their efforts into satisfying their customers and are rewarded if successful. This virtuous circle cannot occur when the government is picking winners and losers.
Equally important, the populists misread the politics as well. Yes, the elites often manipulate public policy for their own benefit. But their actions are seldom pro-market. When the government picks winners and losers, who do you think is likely to lose? Markets don’t care if you are rich or poor, black or white, male or female. Politicians and bureaucrats do.