This rant below by Steve Wynn (of Las Vegas fame) is absolutely Back to the Future – as in 1930’s. It is more evidence that part of our problem today in fully recovering from the Great Recession is that we are again experiencing a “capital strike” due to the anti-growth, anti-capitalism policies of the current regime in Washington (not to mention those that have accreted from prior administrations, including Bush II). Here is part of it (with highlights from Business Insider):
I believe in Las Vegas. I think its best days are ahead of it. But I’m afraid to do anything in the current political environment in the United States. You watch television and see what’s going on on this debt ceiling issue. And what I consider to be a total lack of leadership from the President and nothing’s going to get fixed until the President himself steps up and wrangles both parties in Congress. But everybody is so political, so focused on holding their job for the next year that the discussion in Washington is nauseating.
And I’m saying it bluntly, that this administration is the greatest wet blanket to business, and progress and job creation in my lifetime. And I can prove it and I could spend the next 3 hours giving you examples of all of us in this market place that are frightened to death about all the new regulations, our healthcare costs escalate, regulations coming from left and right. A President that seems, that keeps using that word redistribution. Well, my customers and the companies that provide the vitality for the hospitality and restaurant industry, in the United States of America, they are frightened of this administration. And it makes you slow down and not invest your money. Everybody complains about how much money is on the side in America.
You bet and until we change the tempo and the conversation from Washington, it’s not going to change. And those of us who have business opportunities and the capital to do it are going to sit in fear of the President. And a lot of people don’t want to say that. They’ll say, God, don’t be attacking Obama. Well, this is Obama’s deal and it’s Obama that’s responsible for this fear in America.
The guy keeps making speeches about redistribution and maybe we ought to do something to businesses that don’t invest, their holding too much money. We haven’t heard that kind of talk except from pure socialists. Everybody’s afraid of the government and there’s no need soft peddling it, it’s the truth. It is the truth. And that’s true of Democratic businessman and Republican businessman, and I am a Democratic businessman and I support Harry Reid. I support Democrats and Republicans. And I’m telling you that the business community in this company is frightened to death of the weird political philosophy of the President of the United States. And until he’s gone, everybody’s going to be sitting on their thumbs.
Unfortunately, Wynn’s beautiful but depressing verbal screed reminds us that we aren’t learning from history. Robert Higgs some time ago laid out his compelling “regime uncertainty” thesis that part of the explanation for the long duration of the Great Depression is that capital sat on the sidelines fearing Washington’s attack on wealth and property. Why haven’t we learned? Heck, even FDR’s Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau understood the problem back then better than those in Washington today. According to Higgs, Morgenthau exclaimed at one 1937 Cabinet meeting, “What business wants to know is: are we headed toward Socialism or are we going to continue on a capitalist basis?”
The clarity of Wynn’s own “strike” thesis is astounding. Equally so is that Wynn isn’t a Republican, a member of the Old Right, or a businessman irked by the NRA’s Blue Eagle. Instead, he is a self-proclaimed Harry Reid Democrat. It would be nice if businessmen – regardless of party – would unite courageously in one voice to defend the free-market system that allows for the kind of wealth creation we’ve seen in our history and that made America the envy of the world.* Instead, we have the world feeling the need to make remarks like this one from a Chinese executive in 2008:
“Right now we do not have the courage to invest in financial institutions because we do not know what problems they may have,” Mr. Lou said as part of a panel discussion on the second and final day of the Clinton Global Initiative conference [in Hong Kong]. . . . Mr. Lou said that the sheer pace of new initiatives and new rules issued by Western regulatory agencies was disconcerting and made it even harder for him to choose worthwhile investments. “If it is changing every week, how can you expect me to have confidence?” he asked.  (emphasis added)
* And yet I doubt it for reasons the Old Right clearly understood — some businessmen are nearly as much of the problem as the politicians in Washington.
 Quoted in Robert Higgs. “Regime Uncertainty in 1937 and 2008.” Independent Institute’s The Beacon Blog. December 6, 2008 http://blog.independent.org/2008/12/06/regime-uncertainty-in-1937-and-2008/
 Quoted in ibid.