With millions of Americans out of work, struggling to afford food for themselves and their children, and facing the possibility of losing their homes, President Donald Trump's top economic adviser on Friday celebrated what he described as the "gales of creative destruction" supposedly unleashed by the U.S. economic system in the midst of the pandemic-induced recession.
"The talk is that a lot of folks who became unemployed, alright, most regrettably—but, they're sticking with it and they're going out and starting new businesses," Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, said in an appearance on Fox Business. "They're going to be small businesses."
"But that's the great part of American capitalism, gales of creative destruction," Kudlow continued, deploying a phrase popularized in the 1940s by economist Joseph Schumpeter. "I just love that new business start-up story."
WH Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow: “A lot of folks who became unemployed ... they’re going out and starting new businesses … That’s the great part of American capitalism. pic.twitter.com/YXr2Nz21Ky
— The Recount (@therecount) October 16, 2020
Critics immediately noted that the millions of people across the U.S. who are teetering on the brink of complete financial ruin are likely not impressed by the so-called "creative destruction" praised by Kudlow, who in June complained that the $600-per-week federal unemployment insurance boost many jobless workers were receiving at the time was excessive.
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"Wonder how the 14% of households with kids who reported that they didn't get enough food to eat in the last seven days or the 32% of adults who are having trouble paying for usual household expenses feel about the 'gales of creative destruction,'" tweeted Washington Post reporter Jacqueline Alemany, pointing to data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Kudlow's comments came a day after the Labor Department reported that an additional 1.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, yet another indication that the strong economic recovery Kudlow has repeatedly predicted in recent weeks is not materializing.
"As American capitalism becomes even crueler, the rhetoric of its apologists will only grow more explicit," Jacobin's Luke Savage tweeted in response to Kudlow's remarks.
Thousands of small businesses have closed, many permanently so. Not because there had been anything fundamentally broken with their business models -- because the government has so badly screwed up the covid response that it remains broadly unsafe to operate https://t.co/Hvfkkl2InF
— Catherine Rampell (@crampell) October 16, 2020
On top of being cold comfort for Americans struggling to get by as the prospect of another federal relief package before the November election remains uncertain, Kudlow's rosy insistence that the economic turmoil caused by the Covid-19 pandemic spurred a major new wave of entrepreneurship was also likely factually dubious.
"Self-employment is absolutely helping us to adapt to the pandemic," Adam Ozimek, chief economist at freelancing platform Upwork, told the Post's Jeff Stein. "But it's really nowhere near enough to make up for the massive shortfall in overall employment that we still have. Not even close."