Time to become a Republican?

I find it wryly unsurprising that, just a week after running naked in the street in unabashed celebration of Barack Obama’s victory, I have managed to find his first concrete action entirely misdirected and not at all the kind of original thinking we’ve been looking for. Apparently, the most urgent thing to do in order to save the Economy is to throw a few additional fortunes at flailing corporations. Obama even notes that “his support for [assistance] once he takes office, is contingent on their [carmakers’] willingness to agree to transform their industry to make cleaner, more energy-efficient vehicles.” Way to go, Barack; we always knew that a bit of finger waggling ought to do the trick.

What I really cannot fathom is the reason why, against all reason, can Washington never produce a single fresh, interesting idea? So a sector in the Economy is going to hell. Whatcha gonna do? Prop up old, antiquated, outdated corporations, with their ambition fossilized and imaginative arteries hardened; or find a way to really give innovation and the old Entrepreneurial Spirit a kick in the pants? The latter has my vote (not that I have one, of course).

The economic strength of our civilization lies in its embrace of the competition of ideas; if we allow this sort of institutionalism to take over by following the “too big to fail” doctorine, we will lose the distinction between the public and the private sectors. When the Government sets up what is effectively a $700bn Partial Nationalization Fund for the financial sector, and proceeds to blindly throw money at anybody with a sufficiently large annual turnover, it puts its thumb on the scales of the Market (assuming there’s room for another thumb) — and invites the Market to put yet another thumb on the scales of Government (How many thumbs that guy got, anyway?). In the end, the great danger is that the two sectors would merge, and we’d get the sort of Corporatist Republic we dreaded in the first place.

Alarmist? Sure. But if you take a look at history, you’ll see that there generally is good reason to be alarmed. This signal, this first concrete policy statement Obama presented to the nation was not a surprising, intriguing, creative proposal to get at the root of our economic problems and, say, encourage business startups in the auto industry. Instead we got conventional thinking, back scratching, and yet another bailout of a hollow giant, making our tangled mess of a civilization look more and more like Humpty Dumpty strolling along with a blindfold.

P.S. Here are a couple of interesting articles on the subject:
Bailout to Nowhere
Chances Dwindle on Bailout Plan for Automakers

Published in: on Friday, November 14th, 2008 at 5:22 am  Leave a Comment  

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