Thursday, October 09, 2008

Posted on a Joe Klein Thread:


Both your article and Michael Scherer's post-debate post seem to address the same point. Neither candidtae is willing to give the public any bad news about the limits of what the Government can do to help. This is the bad news.

The good news is that are able to reopen all the philosophical underpinnings that led in a straight line from Johnson to Reagan and allowed Americans to believe that corporations were somehow inherently superior to government agencies.

The basic assumption that has now been become frozen into the public consciousness is that because businesses are motivated by profit, that they are better than government at operating efficiently and NOT wasting money. This is true, as far as it goes, but the sad fact is that if the object of the game is to provide for the minimum basic needs of all Americans, the cheapest way is unquestionably unacceptable. It's taken almost 20 years for this realization to sink in.

The problem as I see it now however, is because these arguments are have all been internalized and simplified into slogans, we're no longer able to discuss them reasonably. All someone has to do is say "redistribution" or "socialist" and an otherwise open mind curls up into a tight little ball of Reaganomic true-belief.

I happen to be well aware of the limits of Government's ability to solve problems. I have sympathies toward Republican economic thinking. I'm a huge fan of balanced budgets and limited borrowing. But we have to be willing to take a systematic look at ALL our institutions and ask themselves "Are these designed in such away that blind self-interest nevertheless creates desirable results?"

The beauty of our Constitutional system is that it turns the self-interest of the Branches of government against each other in order to limit the excessive concentration of power. If only we were half as clever in designing our economic system.

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