A Break from Election Talk

One of the reasons I gave for not voting was using that time to do something constructive. Government is inherently unconstructive; it’s defensive, protectionist, and redistributive. It doesn’t produce anything, but consumes much. We can debate about the degree to which those functions are valuable, worthwhile, or destructive, but still, a horse is a horse, of course of course.

So instead of more pablum about this brave new Washington (ed – SARCASM RULES!!!1!), please enjoy some of the wonderful creativity that makes freedom so productive.

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6 Responses to A Break from Election Talk

  1. Jason says:

    I think you could say government doesn’t create enough with its resources, but the idea that government has never created anything is a little disingenuous. This random website probably isn’t 100% accurate, but at least a fraction must be… http://www.docstoc.com/docs/2187320/Here-is-a-list-of-important-inventions-and-discoveries-made-by-.

    • Aaron says:

      I only meant to imply that government is wasteful, but not destructive. That list is interesting, but the counterfactual is always ‘what could those resources have done productively in private, self-interested hands?’ With rare exceptions, there’s nothing on the list that we would be missing, while simultaneously enjoying more prosperity from saving on a hundred years of government programs.

      Significantly, there’s a lot on that list that has no practical use. It’s nice that NASA discovered the first black hole, but does that mean NASA’s budget is justified, or efficient? Also, I laughed when I saw the ‘people’ tab which tries to imply that somehow Clara Barton’s work with the Patent Office means the government is responsible for the Red Cross.

      • Aaron says:

        As P.J. O’Rourke noted:

        I think it’s always easy to be sympathetic to parts of the government in detail; in their concrete manifestations. Because obviously, we don’t have government for no reason.

  2. Different Jason says:

    Do you know what a synthetic collateralized debt obligation is? It’s something else that is very creative that the wonderful world of freedom allowed to be produced. Now I’m all for the concept that adults should be free to be innovative without government holding them back. But I think government’s role in society is a little more nuanced than you make it out to be, i.e. inherently unconstructive. If the choice of not having government interfere with private business allows for the formation of markets that are intended to allow institutions to gamble on whether highly leveraged homeowners with terrible credit will make their monthly payments, I’m inclined to side with the pro-government option. I’d rather vote for someone who says that maybe that’s a terrible idea even if it did originate from the brilliance of the free market.

    • Aaron says:

      I think you’re equating “inherently” with “absolutely”, which I’m not arguing. I’m saying something less radical; that government creation is the startling exception, and the rule is biased toward redistribution, authority, and the status quo. Innovation, creation, and achievement aren’t aspirations which bureaucrats harbor.

      CDO’s weren’t some kind of financial wild-west. From Reuters:

      That may seem like an overreaction. The SEC has already been investigating the CDO space for some time; there is no official suggestion that other firms did anything wrong. Moreover, the accusations against Goldman relate to just one specific transaction.

      But the CDO backlash appears to be building a head of steam.

      Goldman, more than any other firm, is the focal point of the entire CDO problem. They also happen to be the second biggest donor to the President, and wield vast personal influence in the White House. Goldman’s CEO made repeated visits to see the President during the SEC trial:

      Meanwhile, however, Goldman is retaining former Obama White House counsel Gregory Craig as a member of its legal team. In addition, when he worked as an investment banker in Chicago a decade ago, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel advised one client who also retained Goldman as an adviser on the same $8.2 billion deal.

      Goldman’s connections to the White House and the Obama administration are raising eyebrows at a time when Washington and Wall Street are dueling over how to overhaul regulation of the financial world.

      Lawrence Jacobs, a University of Minnesota political scientist, said that “almost everything that the White House has done has been haunted by the personnel and the money of Goldman . . . as well as the suspicion that the White House, particularly early on, was pulling its punches out of deference to Goldman and its war chest.”

      It doesn’t seem like this whole mess is the market’s fault, but rather the fault of a corporation practicing regulatory-capture and wielding political clout. That’s not freedom, and it’s not regulation. It’s the powers-that-be looking out for each other. It’s crony capitalism, which we should all be against.

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