The NYTimes’ new “conservative” columnist, Ross Douthat, has been slow to win me over. He writes like he is trying to appeal to liberals. Maybe he is. Maybe that’s just being smart--serving his market.
But I like his column today, in which he points out that amidst all the talk of rebellion against the incumbent political class, government actually has increased:
“concentration of power in the hands of the same elite that presided over the disasters in the first place…
The panic of 2008 happened, in part, because the public interest had become too intertwined with private interests for the latter to be allowed to fail. But everything we did to halt the panic, and all the legislation we’ve passed, has only strengthened the symbiosis.
From the Troubled Asset Relief Program to the stimulus bill, from the auto bailout to health care reform, we’ve created a vast new array of public-private partnerships — empowering insiders at the expense of outsiders, large institutions at the expense of small ones, and Washington at the expense of state and local governments. Eighteen months after the financial crisis, the interests of our financiers, C.E.O.’s, bureaucrats and politicians are yoked together as never before.”
This is not a good thing. Thomas Jefferson said, “It is the natural progress of things for government to grow, and liberty to yield ground.” This is exactly what has happened.
“If a government conspicuously fails to prevent a terrorist attack or a real estate bubble, then obviously it needs to be given more powers to prevent the next one, or the one after that.
The C.I.A. and F.B.I. didn’t stop 9/11, so now we have the Department of Homeland Security. Decades of government subsidies for homebuyers helped create the housing crash, so now the government is subsidizing the auto industry, the green-energy industry, the health care sector ...
… their fixes tend to make the system even more complex and centralized, and more vulnerable to the next national-security surprise, the next natural disaster, the next economic crisis. Which is why, despite all the populist backlash and all the promises from Washington, this isn’t the end of the “too big to fail” era. It’s the beginning."