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Our Last 50 Referrers

« Oppose This Bailout | Main | Most »

September 21, 2008

Ideology and the Public Trough

Friedrich von Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards,

I’ve noticed one thing about the Paulson bailout; disaffection with it seems quite similar on both sides of the political aisle, at least among people who quaintly have notions of actually believing in what they say they believe in. (Obviously this group includes neither professional politicians, Wall Street tycoons and other, um, porcine pragmatists.)

If this seems excessive, check out this posting by Matt Yglesias:

I’m blogging under the influence, so perhaps things aren’t quite as dramatic as they seem to me right now, but the bailout plan on the table right now seems to me like something of a crisis point for American liberalism. The plan is bad. But bad policies get enacted all the time. But we’re at a point now where congress is, allegedly, in the hands of progressive leadership. Simply put, if congressional Democrats manage to acquiesce in a plan that spends $700 billion on a bailout while doing nothing for average working people and giving the taxpayer virtually no upside in a way that guarantees that even electoral victory would give an Obama administration no resources with which to implement a progressive domestic agenda in 2009 then everyone’s going to have to give serious consideration to becoming a pretty hard-core libertarian.

It’d be one thing for a bunch of conservative politicians to ram a terrible policy through. Then we could say “well, if some progressives win the next election things will be different.” But if this comes through an allegedly progressive congress then the whole enterprise starts looking pretty hollow.

Well, this is just a liberal thing, right? I mean, those guys aren't going to like anything a Republican administration does, right?

As it turns out, there are pretty similar stirrings on the right also. The Cunning Realist, who describes himself as a lifelong conservative, remarks in a post:

On economic matters, conservatism has largely been taken over by what I call Daiquiri Destructionists: self-avowed Schumpeter acolytes who mutter darkly in beach houses about government intervention in free markets, until things threaten to get a bit too free. Except for the meager shelter under Ron Paul's umbrella, true fiscal and monetary conservatives have no real-world haven right now.

Well, I hate to say I told you so, but I recall making the point that politics in America is pretty much a sham—a matter of differing strategies for enlisting the enthusiasm of the voting masses. Ordinarily, the professional politicians, Wall Street tycoons and others will go along with the dumb show for the yahoos, but occasionally the matter is too serious and the mask slips in public. For an interesting view of exactly what the pragmatists are up to...lining up for the starting bell of the 50 yard dash to the public trough...check out this article.

I guess there’s not much chance of a truth in politics law, huh?



posted by Friedrich at September 21, 2008


Dear Friedrich von Hayek, you have hit the bail on the head.

Posted by: Frans, Stockholm. on September 22, 2008 1:41 AM

Sure about Hayek, but the left and right are coming together around this stuff in a way that's interesting to me, a former libertarian. Tax expenditure theory from the left, public choice theory from the right, these seem to me to shed more light on today's political scene than Hayek, even though Road to Serfdom and Constitution of Liberty were must-reads from my youth.

Taxi! Follow that money!

Chris White: Class, class, class, as you're fond of saying. The real dark secret of the US of A. Not race. Class. The Beast That Shouted Greed At The Heart Of The World.

To update Orwell: the future of mankind is a Brooks Brothers loafer tapping impatiently on humanity's face...forever.

Posted by: PatrickH on September 22, 2008 10:24 AM

I found this link quite by accident. Commenter Mark Levin has an interesting monologue on how the banking sector cratered...

Posted by: Bob Grier on September 22, 2008 10:54 AM

For the ultra hardcore, free-market, let 'em fail point of view, visit the Mises blog:

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on September 22, 2008 12:03 PM

Somewhere on the internets I read someone liken the bailout to a broken panhandler dictating terms for his handouts:

"Crisp $20s only!"

Finance, like a bloated tick, bubbled towards 30% of the S&P 500 this decade. Real decadent End of Empire stuff when finance gets that big. It's on its way back to 10%, which would be very healthy, but they're going to try their best to stop it with our money.

Posted by: Bhh on September 22, 2008 12:09 PM

Anyone here ever hear of Jim Goad? He's a really brilliant guy who used to write a 'zine called Answer Me back in those heady zine days of the early 90s (before the internet!). Anyway, he's mostly an awful person, so I wouldn't recommend checking out any site related to him, but he wrote a book called The Redneck Manifesto that says the same thing you're saying, Patrick. It's not race, it's class. I highly recommend it.

And also, Michael, if you're looking for a writer who dares to say the unpopular truth in a smart way, check him out. He's truly a brilliant writer and an unconventional thinker. His old 'zine, Answer Me, is hard to stomach sometimes and also hard to ignore.

Posted by: JV on September 22, 2008 12:42 PM

Jim Goad is still active? I was a fan back in the old 'zine days. What a phenom he was. Thanks for letting me know.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on September 22, 2008 1:02 PM

Well, he wrote that book maybe 10 years ago. The only thing he's been active in lately is correctional facilities.

Posted by: JV on September 22, 2008 1:12 PM

Now that we have socialism firmly in place for the rich, I'm ready to discard my conservatism in favor of equal socialism for the middle class and poor.

We ain't gonna have free markets, so why pretend?

So, everything free for everybody! Free healthcare! Extensive unemployment benefits! Guaranteed job security! 6 to 8 weeks vacation! Cradle to grave welfare.

How can either party in good conscience argue against this? They've paid themselves and their cronies off. Where's mine?

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on September 22, 2008 1:45 PM

Hey, does this current moment when our supposed betters have been caught with their pants down in a credit circle jerk mean fewer folks will sneer when someone like me says we've been engaged in class warfare since at least the Reagan administration? Okay, the Roosevelt administration. Okay, Teddy Roosevelt. Grant? And the rich have been winning.

Posted by: Chris White on September 22, 2008 7:17 PM

For any unpaid pyjama-clad bloggers sipping flat cola and feeling really down about themselves:

"2006 - Ranks #1 in the Barron's 500 annual survey of corporate performance for the largest companies in the U.S. and Canada.

2007 - Ranks #1 "Most Admired Securities Firm" by Fortune."

That's the very highly paid MSM on Lehman Brothers. (Noted by Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit.)

Who's a silly boy then?

Posted by: Robert Townshend on September 23, 2008 8:13 PM

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