Prominent Humorist Turns on the Bailout; Remember How Great it Can be to Do Nothing?


It is bracing to see how being freed of the necessity too many purely political writers feel to be "constructive," "serious," faux-thoughtful, properly respectful of the mighty complications only respected political professionals understand, etc. gets us to some truths.

This piece on why the proper response to the ongoing economic crisis is doing nothing, by the LA Times' humorist Joel Stein isn't quite up to the standards of our own Tim Cavanaugh's take on the bailout, but it was still refreshing to see and will probably be read with more care than anything Henry Paulson says in the next year.

From Stein:

So let's not stop the short-selling of financial stocks—the only brake on overindulgence—as Paulson did last week. Let's not strip Congress of yet another power by giving the Treasury secretary the right to decide where to dole out a large portion of our budget. Let's not encourage more risky loans by making profits private and losses public. And let's not create some bastardized form of communism in which the new rule is, "From each according to his ability, to each according to the size of the investment bank he owns shares in."

And if we really are going to give money to the rich, let's at least follow the rules we demand other countries adopt when the International Monetary Fund bails them out: slash spending, balance budgets and eliminate trade restrictions and subsidies. We also sometimes force them to come here and clean our houses, do our gardening and watch our kids….

The Chinese have a term for it, this wise Taoist recognition of when we should simply not act: wu wei. Knowing the Chinese term for things may become quite helpful in the near future.