The Winner of Last Night's Debate? Washington

Both candidates embrace central planning as prudent economic policy

"We're gonna have to do something about home values," presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said at the beginning of last night's debate. Wait, was that a Republican nominee suggesting that the federal government has a causus belli to intervene when market prices go down?

You bet your assets.

"I would order the Secretary of the Treasury to immediately buy up the bad home loan mortgages in America and renegotiate at the new value of those homes, at the diminished value of those homes and let people make those, be able to make those payments and stay in their homes," McCain said. "Is it expensive? Yes."

Is it yet another McCain Hail Mary pass in a campaign that will soon be remembered for nothing but? Also, yes. And it was the latest indication in a grim season for free marketeers that there is no corner of American life that leading politicians aren't eagerly lining up to nationalize.

This should be no surprise, neither to people who've been following John McCain's economic incoherence closely, nor for those who've merely watched the pro-centralization hysteria of the man he aims to replace. But last night's debate hammered home that we are truly entering the re-regulation era, at least if Washington politicians have anything to do with it.

McCain, obviously, was not alone. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) repeated his detail-free contention that it was "deregulation," not the implosion of the heavily regulated Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, that caused the subprime meltdown and the current financial crisis. "A year ago," he bragged. "I went to Wall Street and said, we have got to reregulate."

The Democratic nominee repeated his pie-in-the-sky idea that Washington-led industrial policy on energy can create "5 million new jobs," and magically transform the economy like, uh, the personal computer? "Energy policy can be the engine that the computer was the engine of our economy," he said, hinting at a fascinating alternative history whereby Mssrs. Hewlett, Packard, Jobs, Wozniak, and Gates were all products of central planning. "That's why we've got to make some investments."

Moderator Tom Brokaw gleefully got into the central planning fantasy life, wondering whether we should "fund a Manhattan-like project that develops a nuclear bomb to deal with global energy and alternative energy or should we fund 100,000 garages across America, the kind of industry and innovation that developed Silicon Valley."

These kind of late-campaign enthusiasms for massive new federal intrusions into the economy might play better as entertainment if it weren't for the uncomfortable fact that the distance between bad economic ideas and new signed laws has been almost historically short over the last few weeks. The ground is moving under our feet, or at least under the feet of Washington and those who cover it, and if we're not careful we will wake up in a few months with the already historically bloated and indebted federal government owning a piece of every private decision in America that didn't turn out well. Airlines bet wrong on the price of oil? Here's your bailout, sir! Did you bet on the Angels instead of the Red Sox? Step right up, Main Street!

It is a whiplash-inducing thing, having lived through the Central Europeans' response to their much-graver "economic crises" of the early 1990s—basically, getting the government out of the ownership business, and letting the sold-off chunks fail if need be—and then coming back here to see both major political parties and the establishmentarian media get a national case of the vapors when a decade-long credit binge finally dries out a bit, and unemployment ticks up to a once-enviable 6.1 percent.

There once was something approaching consensus in the industrialized world that central economic planning was for losers. If this is how quickly America's leaders lose faith, I would hate to see the kind of solutions on offer if things actually do get as bad as they all predict.

In the meantime, we are also witnessing the full flower of what happens when a Republican who has never really worked in the private sector, who emulates the Wall Street-bashing of Teddy Roosevelt, and who has been explicitly railing against the "libertarian" wing of his own party for more than a decade, finally sees his lifelong prize dangled tantalizingly within his grasp. If you thought his economic policies were bad back before he ever had a real shot at the White House, is it really any surprise that in a time of high financial anxiety he's running to the economic left of Bill Clinton?

The only good news for all of us, once again, is that one of these two men will lose on Nov. 4. One senses, however, that the fight over re-regulation has only just begun.

Matt Welch is editor in chief of reason.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Elemenope||

    regulation != central planning

    There's a world of difference between a bureaucrat saying "x number of computers go to Peoria, y number of bread loafs go to Duquesne", and a regulation preventing or limiting certain types of economic behaviors.

  • JMR||

    I still love how record spending on regulation (and nobody denies any spending record when it comes to Dubya) can politically translate to "deregulation." Even the most partisan Democrats I know will admit it's completely dishonest, but they'll keep voting the way they vote, and pro regulation Republicans will keep acting like they're telling the truth. It's amazing what NewSpeak can do to peoples' minds.

  • ||

    Did you bet on the Angels instead of the Red Sox? Step right up, Main Street!

    Only a complete sucker would have taken that bet.

  • ||

    How many regulations does it take before real ownership passes to the government? How about mere control? At what point do we have a command economy even if ownership resides in individuals?

  • ||

    And to think you people went out of your way to sabotage and undermine the only candidate who actually advocated free market capitalism and economic liberty - advocated liberty at all. It makes all of your protests seem pretty hollow. I guess this must be what you wanted - one of these two big brother/central planning/social engineering types. That you gave voice to the dishonest tripe of the likes of Kirchick and did your best to dash the first and only real hope we have had that there might the possibility of some light at the end of this long, dark tunnel. It turns out it's not a tunnel at all, but a pit which we keep digging deeper and deeper. Thanks for all you have done to quash what little belief in liberty we still had in this country.

  • economist||

    lmnop,
    It's a question of degree. Both outright central planning and regulation are based on the premise that it is better for the government to decide how resources are used and disbursed in an economy than for private individuals to decide.

  • economist||

    I'm sure there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In about thirty or forty years there will be a combination of high unemployment and high inflation that will cause people to lose their faith in the regulatory state and turn towards free markets. That said, I'm not planning on living long enough to really reap the benefits.

  • Elemenope||

    lmnop,
    It's a question of degree. Both outright central planning and regulation are based on the premise that it is better for the government to decide how resources are used and disbursed in an economy than for private individuals to decide.


    I think it's a question of kind. Central planning implies public ownership (ownership roughly being defined by control over the asset at issue). Regulations do not (generally) deprive one of ownership: car ownership and driving is heavily regulated, and yet it is your choice where you drive it, and to what extent you own your car is unaffected.

    Now, a difference of kind can turn on a difference of degree; there may be a practical tipping point where de facto ownership transfers to the regulatory state because all available freedom normally conferred by ownership is squeezed out.

    But we are nowhere near such a state, nor are we likely to even approach it.

  • ||

    At what point do we have a command economy even if ownership resides in individuals?

    Isn't that one of the tenets of fascism?

  • ||

    I wish I could have been there to bang their stupid heads together. They both voted for the robbery, they're both hopelessly ignorant of basic economics, and worst of all, they both believe that the job they're running for should give them dictatorial powers.

    -jcr

  • economist||

    lmnop,
    If you aren't allowed to decide how you are going to use an asset, or it is taxed (but that's a different story) then you don't really own it completely. It's just a question of whether it's implicit (through heavy regulation) or explicit (by public ownership). There is no "tipping point" just different degrees of ownership.

  • ||

    The sad part is that it will give them such powers after the Bush legacy jcr.

  • economist||

    I actually remember an article here a year or two ago about this issue, whether regulating the use of property amounts to seizing ownership. I think it was over Endangered Species regs or something.

  • Elemenope||

    economist,

    Seeing as how government is the general guarantor of property rights (we run to the courts to solve our property disputes, at any rate, and to the strong arm of the state to report theft), a limited sharing of property rights, if not ideal, should at least be expected.

  • The Evangelist||

    Well, Matt, whatever we do, this is no time to question any of our basic libertarian assumptions. We nailed this economy thing down once and for all long ago, and we've stated it all clearly in a number of simple dogmas...er, principles. Reality has to conform to our views, not the other way around. The best advice in these troubled times: whistle loudly.

  • economist||

    Elemenope,
    the government is the self-appointed guarantor of property rights. However, I think it's reasonable to say that it's not a "limited sharing" of property rights, especially since the government has also given itself right to redefine property rights as it sees fit. I'm willing to pay taxes to support the military (though not military adventurism), the police (though not the police state), and the courts. I might even agree to pay gas taxes to support roads (since it's essentially a user fee). Beyond that, I want ask any more of the government and in return I want the government to stay the hell out of my business.

  • economist||

    Evangelist,
    While you slay that straw man, I'll be taking a dump. Have fun with it. Remember, "Aim for the Head!"

  • ||

    Episiarch,

    Fascism, socialism, communism, whatever. They all just want to take my stuff and my liberty away from me. All of these people who support the ever-increasing size and scope of government for one pet cause or another are going to regret it when a totally uncontrollable government finally emerges in the U.S. It may or may not offer bread and circuses to the little guy, but it will certainly strip us of our property and our freedoms.

    With all of the hue and cry about Bush from the left the last eight years, I'm shocked that they aren't buying more into the limited government principle to protect those liberties that they hold dear. I guess winning Congress and having a shot at the White House has made them forget that an imperial presidency (and/or an imperial Congress) is a bad thing. The same went for the GOP when Clinton was in office, incidentally.

  • economist||

    PL,
    I think actual bread and circuses, if they replaced the current system of handouts, would actually be cheaper.

  • economist||

    PL,
    I have a strong suspicion that a lot of the hue and cry over Bush from the last eight years wasn't over aggrandization of the executive branch at the expense of billions dollars, thousands of lives, and the liberties of everyone in this country, but the fact that it was a Republican, not a Democrat, who got to do it. I guarantee that when Great Leader Obama gets elected, all of the left's concerns over executive power will go out the window. It's already starting, in anticipation of Obama's victory.

  • ||

    And cooler. If it were up to me, we'd have giant games, the corn dole, and togas. Well, maybe I'm kidding about the first two.

  • ||

    Now I know why you're not afraid to die, ProL--you're more afraid of living. Each day you stay alive is just one more day you might slip, and let your human half peek out.

  • economist||

    Maybe that should be a third party- the "Bread and Circus" party. Updated to also hand out free beer. I could pragmatically support it based on the fact that if it replaced our current state, it would be cheaper and people in general would be happier. Togas would be cool, too, but they might get chilly in winter.

  • ||

    All of these people who support the ever-increasing size and scope of government for one pet cause or another are going to regret it when a totally uncontrollable government finally emerges in the U.S.

    When? If what we have isn't it, what would be?

  • Bill Clinton||

    The era of big government is over.

    Oops.
    Make that: The era of big government is now and I have been proven completely wrong.
    Please don't beat me up in a gym. Thank you.

  • T||

    Maybe that should be a third party- the "Bread and Circus" party. Updated to also hand out free beer.

    I'd vote for the Beer and Burlesque party if they fielded a candidate.

  • economist||

    Cue joe coming in to talk about how we need more regulation and higher taxes. Can't wait.

  • economist||

    Free Bread, Free Beer, and some loose women. I think I might have a winning platform.

  • ||

    That 6.1% unemployment figure is kinda bogus. They've been changing the definitions for a while now. If we were using metrics from 20 years ago, the unemployment figure would be 8%+ right now.

  • ||

    economist,

    Which goes to the crux of the problem. Excessive power is great when my guy gets to wield it but not when your guy does. That's crazy, and it will eventually lead us to a tyranny in this country. It may not be overt, but it will exist nonetheless.

    R C Dean mentioned this in another thread, and it's one of my core beliefs, too: The U.S. has been successful as a republic largely because of its historical distrust, if not paranoia, about government. I don't know all of what happened to make large numbers of us willing to bend a knee to those in power--maybe it's the large teats of today's government?--but that's the way it is. I think part of the problem from the left/progressive side is this odd belief that corporations need to be offset by a humongous government. Businesses can do bad things, but they haven't committed genocide or dropped nukes on people. Besides, businesses usually are at their worst when walking hand in hand down the beach with government. I think the GOP for much of the post-WWII period might've been more skeptical about government growth, but they got sidetracked by the Cold War.

  • economist||

    "excessive power in politics is great when my guy gets to wield it"
    I've never had a guy in government. I occasionally voted for some of them, but never were any of them the ones I preferred.

  • Elemenope||

    ProL --

    I think what happened was the "enemies foreign and domestic" paradigm finally ate through the skepticism wall completely. First it was fascists, then communists, then hippies, then hippies that were communists, then drug dealers, and finally terrorists.

    People will ask for extraordinary protection from what they perceive to be extraordinary threats, and are mollified in their instinctual distrust by looking at government and terrorists side by side and being forced into a false choice which the government will always win on spec.

  • Elemenope||

    Also, people not reading that much old stuff anymore might have had a contributing role.

  • ||

    I was speaking in the voice of those who get pissed at Clinton/Bush but celebrate Bush/Clinton. Me, I've never wanted a guy with excessive power. I think the Constitutional powers should be adequate to do what I'd like my guy to do.

    Elemenope,

    True enough. We've been moving from one "crisis" to another over the years, with each one justifying a further expansion of government.

  • rhywun||

    Someone more economically inclined than myself should comment on this thing, which was discussed on Sunday's 60 Minutes as a big part of the today's financial problems.

  • Mike Laursen||

    And to think you people went out of your way to sabotage and undermine the only candidate who actually advocated free market capitalism and economic liberty...

    I assume you are referring to Ron Paul. He sabotaged his own campaign by his own racism and/or involvement with racists. Fortunately for the reputation of libertarianism, the matter didn't get much mainstream media coverage.

  • ||

    Seeing as how government is the general guarantor of property rights (we run to the courts to solve our property disputes, at any rate, and to the strong arm of the state to report theft), a limited sharing of property rights, if not ideal, should at least be expected.

    We pay the government a fee to act as guarantor. It doesn't get an equity stake as well.

  • Mike Laursen||

    I don't know all of what happened to make large numbers of us willing to bend a knee to those in power--maybe it's the large teats of today's government?--but that's the way it is.

    Some things that have probably contributed:
    * For many years now, government has controlled the curricula and quality of education in most of this country's schools.
    * Handouts
    * Broadcasting licenses

  • Neu Mejican||

    Lmnop/economist:
    An interesting discussion.

    My 2 cents.

    Property rights are an artifice used to resolve disputes between individuals. Government is a process for resolving disputes between individuals (i.e., government is a set of regulations for resolving disputes between individuals).

    In other words, you do not own anything outside of the set of governing principles agreed upon by the society in which you participate.

    This means, I think, that the concepts of central planning and regulation are differences of degree not of kind.

    However, I am with LMNOP that, although there may be a tipping point at which regulation of economic activities = central planning, the current system our society has developed does not allow for regulations to approach that tipping point in any meaningful sense.

  • Neu Mejican||

    ProL,

    The U.S. has been successful as a republic largely because of its historical distrust, if not paranoia, about government. I don't know all of what happened to make large numbers of us willing to bend a knee to those in power

    When America was founded there was a correct interpretation of government by law rather than by individuals. When government is seen as a process that we the people institute we are skeptical of those that want to change the rules. Proudhon highlights government as verb...


    To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be place[d] under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality. (P.-J. Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century, translated by John Beverly Robinson (London: Freedom Press, 1923), pp. 293-294.)



    The modern view of THE government as an entity rather than a process we participate in may result from the vast scale of our society which allows us to meaningfully interact with people we will never meet. But a view that treats the government as an entity rather than a process allows us to detach ourselves from responsibility for the distortion of our society's rules. The system is set up to self-correct, but only if people see themselves as having the power and the responsibility to the PROCESS of government rather than the people who are professional agents implementing that process.

    Or something...

  • Nigel Watt||

    Does the DNC pay these morons to post here? Fuck.

  • Nigel Watt||

    To be a little more eloquent - I don't understand why y'all insist on listening to the economists who caused this clusterfuck instead of the ones who predicted it.

  • ||

    The modern view of THE government as an entity rather than a process we participate in may result from the vast scale of our society which allows us to meaningfully interact with people we will never meet.

    And it may be a reflection of the evolution of the government into a large, more or less self-contained, self-referential, and self-perpetuating corporate entity.

    Given that most governing these days happens in bureaucracies and in a gerry-mandered legislature that is not meaningfully responsive or accountable to "the people", I don't know that the modern belief that government is a "they" rather than a process subject to control by "us" is incorrect.

  • Neu Mejican||

    RC Dean,

    Self-correcting.

    Throw the bums out and stay involved...i.e., lobby the government, vote, communicate with those that represent you in our representative democracy/republic.

    I have seen it work an I ain't THAT old.

  • ||

    Just living in the Beltway, let alone working for Leviathan, gives one great insights into the way the federal government thinks. There's DC, then there's DC.

  • Nigel Watt||

    Neu Mejican, while it may work for small issues (like it's worked, in an anti-freedom direction, for immigration), overall the government has gotten consistently more powerful and ominous forever.

  • ||

    But we are nowhere near such a state, nor are we likely to even approach it.

    LMNOP -- which part of a trillion dollar series of nationalizations of banking did you miss during the last month or so?

    Central planning, soviet-style, can be approached step by step, and nationalizing huge chunks of the economy (the banking and housing sectors now, the health care system after the election) and regulating the bejeezus out of the rest slides us well down that slippery slope.

  • Neu Mejican||

    The perception that the process is not responsive to the individual may have something to do with the low voter turnout...something like 40% of eligible voters. When 60% of the people are not involved in the process, of course the process will not be responsive to their views.

    Again, I think this comes down to the scale of our society. 300 million + people. The scale makes it seem like I have no significant stake in the process. This, unfortunately, bleeds down to the local level where people actually have a much larger stake. I believe voter turn out for local elections is many times lower than for national elections even though local elections have more direct impact on your life.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Nigel Watt | October 8, 2008, 12:59pm | #
    Neu Mejican, while it may work for small issues (like it's worked, in an anti-freedom direction, for immigration), overall the government has gotten consistently more powerful and ominous forever.


    That is one perspective.
    So, is the US government more powerful and ominous than, say, the Roman Caesars? Monarchies of any kind.

    On a long view the trend moves up and down the ominous/powerful scale, it seems.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Things the government in the US can't do now that it could do previously..


    Allow slavery.
    Prevent women from voting.
    Prevent blacks from voting.
    ...
    [continue the list at your leisure]

  • Elemenope||

    LMNOP -- which part of a trillion dollar series of nationalizations of banking did you miss during the last month or so?

    No part. But if y'all are right, as soon as it goes through it would collapse the industry, and so the action is self-defeating (since all the government would be left hold would be crap).

    Self-correcting power grabs: life's little irony.

  • Elemenope||

    NM --

    They deprive blacks of voting all the time. They just do it in the guise of disenfranchising felons and/or homeless people.

    But I get your point that in some areas at least on paper the government has been more restricted than it has been in the past.

  • ||

    Homeless have the right to vote?

    Ya wouldn't know it from fox news.



    but then again I believe that the economy is tanking since the wsj changed hands.

  • ||

    Ron Paul never had a shot because he refused to play Santa Claus, unlike the other Republican dolts. Obama's every past action screams government intrusion and intervention on a scale never before seen in the USA--and yes, that includes the current maladministration. We are so fucked.

  • ||

    Home prices NEED to fall, at least in the bubble states like California, Florida, Nevada, etc. The prices they rose to from 2000 to 2006 were simply unsustainable based on household incomes.

    Prices went up because people thought they would keep going up. Many mortgages were written based on that assumption, for homeowners with no realistic means of repaying them, absent a future refinancing at even higher levels. Yet the banks used historical default rates in their models, when prices were clearly far off the historical trend line.

  • ||

    I wonder at the phrase "we need to keep people in their homes". What makes them "their homes"? The fact that they made a few mortgage payments on time before violating the contract they signed?

    What's next? Keeping renters in "their apartments" because they made a few rent payments on time?

    And how does having 0% (or negative) equity in a house make someone a home "owner" anyway?

  • Elemenope||

    craig --

    It might be worth it to find out how much it would cost to deal with a much larger homeless population humanely before going off half-cocked on divine vengeance for moral hazard.

  • Eddie||

    Matt, you said:

    "The Democratic nominee repeated his pie-in-the-sky idea that Washington-led industrial policy on energy can create "5 million new jobs," and magically transform the economy like, uh, the personal computer? "Energy policy can be the engine that the computer was the engine of our economy," he said, hinting at a fascinating alternative history whereby Mssrs. Hewlett, Packard, Jobs, Wozniak, and Gates were all products of central planning. "That's why we've got to make some investments."

    I believe he said that computers were first developed for military purposes. Which is true.

    The first computers:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ENIAC

    The internet:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARPANET

    So the computer revolution was initially nestled by the government before Hewlett, Packard, Jobs, Wozniak, and Gates took the ideas and ran with it.

    So I don't think it's THAT crazy to assume that sustainable production of energy also needs a bit of government support and incubation before the technology becomes viable competitor to oil.

  • ||

    Neu Mejican | October 8, 2008, 1:29pm | #

    Things the government in the US can't do now that it could do previously..


    Allow slavery.
    Prevent women from voting.
    Prevent blacks from voting.
    ...
    [continue the list at your leisure]


    Not to mention stealing land from Indians, smoking whatever one wanted, setting up wierd cults in out of the way places, and assorted insanity.

    But the error is saying the government ALLOWED these things. At the time it was viewed that men had the freedom to do whatever the fuck they wanted, INCLUDING enslaving other humans. That's real, don't fuck with me or I'll kill you freedom. Pretty crazy, huh?

    It was only when Jackson got all racial and fucked the Cherokees out of being allowed to enslave humans too that the government started to acquire more and more power in the US.

  • ||

    Self-correcting.

    Throw the bums out and stay involved...i.e., lobby the government, vote, communicate with those that represent you in our representative democracy/republic.

    I have seen it work an I ain't THAT old.


    I wish it worked that way, NM, but I honestly fear it no longer does. Sure, its theoretically possible to throw the bums out, but we have an awful lot of Representatives-for-Life due to their gerrymandered "safe" districts.

    We seem to have an unconscionable number of political dynasties - the Bushes, the Clintons, the Kennedys, and too many Senators and Reps who got elected because their daddy was to count.

    We've just seen Congress not only ignore a massive public outrising against a gigantic bailout bill, but actually spit in the face of the public by taking that same bill, porking it up with even more handouts and giveaways, and pass it.

    I've about given up on the possibility of our political culture healing itself. Its fallen, and it can't get up.

  • ||

    Eddie, if I'm not mistaken, back in the 60's when Texas Instruments was making IC's, they were about $70.00 a piece. Nobody wanted them for that price but many saw the possibilities. The federal govt. stepped up and bought a bunch of them and over a relatively short time the price came down around 2 bucks. That started a technology revolution we still enjoy today.

  • Neu Mejican||

    But the error is saying the government ALLOWED these things. At the time it was viewed that men had the freedom to do whatever the fuck they wanted, INCLUDING enslaving other humans. That's real, don't fuck with me or I'll kill you freedom. Pretty crazy, huh?

    You seem to have missed my point about government being a verb, a process, not an entity.

    Government does allow and disallow behaviors.
    By definition. Government is the list of allowed and disallowed behaviors and the mechanisms for enforcing those rules.

    Some of those rules restrain all citizens.
    Some of those rules restrain the agents of enforcement.

    The list of rules restraining agents of the government is longer now than it used to be.
    Government agents have whole classes of actions off-the-table that used to be standard practice.

  • Neu Mejican||

    RC Dean,

    I've about given up on the possibility of our political culture healing itself. Its fallen, and it can't get up.

    I guess it is a half-full/half-empty glass thing.

    Self-correction doesn't happen in a day, but it happens. And, it take a concerted effort by the people. Unfortunately, expectations are pretty low, so it takes big time fuck ups to get people's attention.

    I think the double barrels of Iraq and the Housing Market crisis will wake up the beast, at least for a little while.

  • ||

    Of course, self-correction can take an exceedingly long time. Like from the fall of the Roman Republic to the rise of the republican city states in Italy.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Pro L,

    I didn't realize that Rome had a constitutional mechanism of self-correction similar to that in our society.

    But, yeah, history is a bitch that will slap down those that ignore her. And the lesson of Rome is that you never give the executive dictatorial power. Our recent slip in that direction needs to be opposed actively and absolutely.

    FWIW, the solution is to elect better people into Congress. People who will stand up to a strong executive and re-draw some lines with legislation.

    This bill
    http://www.congress.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c109:4:./temp/~c1098Zulue::

    seems like a good first step for providing accountability. We need more, but...

    Funny thing is that this bill highlights the difference between McCain's approach to problems and Obama's.

  • ||

    Hope all you "libertarians" who are so sanguine about Obama still feel the same way in a few years after living with a cryptoMarxist president, a filibuster-proof Democratic congress and a couple of "progressive" Supreme Court appointments. You'll be looking back at the Reno and even the Palmer Justice Departments as the golden age of liberty.

  • ||

    JohnL

    For what it's worth, as near as I can tell, once the people who have vested all their hopes and dreams into whatever they have imagined him to be, find out that he cannot, in fact, walk on water, and that the vaunted "filibuster-proof Democratic congress" is as fractious a body as ever existed you will see something completely different from what you envision.

    For recent evidence see Bill Clinton, 1993-4, with a Congress full of New Deal Democrats and Rockefeller Republicans (they're the ones that want a national health plan so they don't have to worry about catching dread diseases from the help). Remember how that worked out.

  • Mike Laursen||

    There was a whole lot of commercial development of computing between ENIAC and Apple and Microsoft. A little company called IBM, for instance.

  • ||

    Hey Mike, let's pretend for the moment that those racism charges were not pure horsecrap, which they were. It has nothing to do with any disservice that was done to Dr. Paul - he really had no particular ambition to be President anyway. What matters is the disservice done to all of us who saw in Dr. Paul the first glimmer of light that there might be some real possibility of moving this country in the direction of liberty. The first candidate ever actually promoting the principles on which this country was founded. Funny, but you would have expected a publication that ostensibly promotes liberty - an end to the drug war, promotion of individual rights and responsibility, ending empire building and wars of aggression, reigning in the incessant growth of government and massive debt - you would think that such a publication might be inclined to support the only serious candidate actually promoting those views, but no. That would be too much to ask that they not sabotage the only candidate who remotely represents to values of the enlightenment and those that the country was founded upon. It is truly bizarre. Go ahead, keep parroting back the pablum/BS you have been fed. It's easier than actually looking at the facts and thinking for yourself.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement