A more apt connection of current events to actual socialism was made by Sen. Ron Johnson, the Wisconsin Republican, when President Trump decided to validate the conservative axiom that government often is the disease for which it pretends to be the cure. When the president decided to give farmers a $12 billion bandage for the wound he inflicted on them with his splendid little (so far) trade war, and when other injured interests joined the clamor for comparable compensations, Johnson said, “This is becoming more and more like a Soviet type of economy here: Commissars deciding who’s going to be granted waivers, commissars in the administration figuring out how they’re going to sprinkle around benefits.”

Concerning Johnson’s observation, the Hoover Institution’s John H. Cochrane, who blogs as the Grumpy Economist, says actually, it’s worse than that: “It’s a darker system, which leads to crony capitalism.” Cochrane is just slightly wrong: Protectionism, and the promiscuous and capricious government interventions that inevitably accompany it, is , always and everywhere, crony capitalism. But he is spot on about the incompatibility of America’s new darker system and the rule of law…