"There's something seriously wrong with an America that constantly re-elects people who all but laugh in your face while squandering taxpayer money. It isn't even real money to them," observes Dan Riehl re Barney Frank's latest comment about "spending your money" for a Detroit bailout: "There's no downside to trying." Barney Frank, above, in a CNBC "Closing Bell" interview October 20 tells Maria Bartiromo "I think there are a lot of rich people out there whom we can tax at a point down the road and recover some of this money."
"Are people buying things where you live?" asks The Barrister at Maggie's, tossing readers a short list of provocative questions about what goes on here in this autumn of our discontent. A few excerpts and then on to our own thoughts and finally — best for last — our favorite answer in the comments at Maggie's:
Is this a hyped-up ordinary recession, with great stock market buys that will make you wealthy in a few years?
Are we headed towards a long global depression?
Is this all an emotional reaction?
Don't ask us, but our gut tells us hype, playing upon our all-too-human emotional reaction to change, is a major player, the stuff of which political and journalistic careers are made and the reason why free markets aren't necessarily free in this "Republic, if you can keep it" of ours. We agree with Rand Simberg in his Pajamas Media essay "Want Change? Let's Try Free Markets," but don't hold your breath:
Joseph Schumpeter famously — and admiringly — wrote about the “creative destruction” inherent in the actions of the free market. I refuse to use the word “capitalism” in this context, because it’s really a Marxist term and doesn’t capture the essence of a system in which individuals and corporations freely exchange goods and services without government interference, if indeed it ever did. When so-called “capitalists” who run the finance, real estate, insurance, and now automotive industries come to Washington, hat in hand, for taxpayer dollars, it’s laughably ludicrous to call them supporters of the free market. Moreover, the term “capitalism” doesn’t capture or connote the importance of property rights and the ability to exchange them freely that are at the base of human liberty in the way that the phrase “free market” does.
In Schumpeter’s view — which is supported abundantly by history — as new technological or financial or cultural innovations arise, or as the societal desires and composition change, so change the markets and business models for existing companies. They have a choice of adapting to that change or, if incapable of doing so for either corporate cultural or other reasons, they can die. They can die, that is, if they don’t have courtiers at the royal court. Then, their options are more varied and they don’t require the necessary and painful change to their ways of doing business that might be required to survive in the new circumstances.
In her seminal book, The Future and its Enemies, Virginia Postrel writes about the real political divide — not left versus right, but what she calls stasists versus dynamists. The former fear change and want to use government power to minimize it, if not eliminate it. The latter accept that improvements in the human condition require change by definition, and understand that the best way to ensure it is to allow individuals the freedom to make choices, with consequences, both good and ill, to be borne by them.
Simberg's pesky "courtiers at the royal court" and the preening, narcissistic Federal Princes they woo bring us back to our above-mentioned favorite answer to the comments at Maggie's, by reader Tom c:
After listening to the Barney Frank committee today one can't help being a little pessimistic. Bloviating, grandstanding, bullying political hacks with little to no understanding of business, economics or the pressures faced by American manufacturers. I wouldn't be looking for leadership from those jokers.
Thank you Tom c for listening to the Barney "The private sector got us into this mess. The government has to get us out of it" Frank committee so we didn't have to. As Jeff Jacoby wrote a couple of months back, "Frank's fingerprints are all over the financial fiasco."