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    Turn! Turn! Turn!

    At Hit and Run, Matt Welch is on fire. First on the anti-bourgeois crack high of a salary cap on upper management at banks:

    I’ll stack up my class resentment against anyone’s, particularly when it comes to billionaire hosebags scarfing at the public trough. However, the only “outrageous” thing going on here is that the government forced itself upon a comparatively successful private company, bitched about the host’s ingratitude, and is now doing what the federal government does best: Setting compensation rates at commercial banks. What’s that you say? Bank stocks tumbling on “nationalization” fears? Why I never!

    To sum up: In a fit of righteous anti-greed, people who make several hundred thousand dollars a year as federal employees (then millions more out of office doing whatever it is Tom Daschle was doing) are consciously driving the best talent out of endangered firms that are sitting on scores of billions of taxpayer dollars that they were made to accept by force. Shoot, what could go wrong with that?

    It will likely never be that time [when President Obama deems it acceptable for banks to make profits and pay out bonuses], as long as the government is in the business of running private commerce. Banks will be forced to write 4 percent mortgages. Automakers will be forced to build magical green cars that spew out 3 million jobs from their exhaust pipes. Airlines will be forced to Buy American, governors will be forced to spend their budget-filling bounty on unionized teachers, and newspapers will be forced to run Rahm Emanuel columns. Local commercial decisions will be made in Washington, based on politics, instead of by business-owners, based on consumers.

    And, again, no one who supports this kind of interventionist malarkey is in any moral or ethical position to be working up to high dudgeon about the omnipresence of lobbyists in D.C.

    Welch is even better on Obama’s column in the WaPo today. The president’s introduction reads in part:

    What Americans expect from Washington is action that matches the urgency they feel in their daily lives — action that’s swift, bold and wise enough for us to climb out of this crisis.

    Well, then, Americans are screwed. Federal officials may have the best of intentions, but many of them have clearly never run so much as a lemonade stand successfully, and there is much on-the-ground information about actually operating a business in a way that’s good for shareholders, employees, and customers that they just have no way of knowing.

    So the wisdom part’s kind of suspect. Welch has issues with the boldness part, too, especially when it’s characterized as a departure from all those free-market, capitalist policies that have been blighting our lives lately.

    There is one charge here that I for one am happy to embrace: We can indeed “ignore…energy independence”…because there’s no such as thing as energy independence. Really. It’s b******t.

    Why do people oppose the stimulus? Here are a few actual reasons: There is no strong evidence that stimuli work, and plenty of evidence that they don’t (a relevant consideration, no?). Like the deeply flawed PATRIOT Act, the deeply flawed Iraq War resolution, and the deeply flawed bank bailout, it is being rushed through the legislature in an atmosphere of pants-wetting crisis and presidential warnings of impending doom. It is filled with special interest giveaways, big-government featherbedding, and “Buy American” considerations that have about as much to do with stimulating an economy as playing violin has with putting out fires. By taking from fiscally responsible states (like South Carolina) and giving to fiscally irresponsible states (like California), it violates basic notions of fairness and creates still more moral hazard in an already hazardtastic universe.

    And remember–aside from misportraying his opponents’ concerns, Obama is also blaming their “theories” for the whole crisis in the first place. Neat! But who had the theory that the federal government should be the elephant in the room of the mortgage business, pressure commercial banks to write mortgages for risky borrowers, even while applying less oversight to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac than on actors in private sector? It certainly wasn’t the free marketeers. Who thought credit default swaps and mortgage-backed securities should be left to expand like crazy without providing for a clearinghouse to at least measure their number and worth? It wasn’t the house libertarian on the SEC. Who thought elevating Alan Greenspan to deity status while he maestroed the long era of loose credit was the capital thing to do? I know this will come as a surprise for those who think an Ayn Rand habit gets people a lifetime get-out-of-jail-free card on Planet Libertarian, but Greenspan’s bubble-blowing policies were plenty controversial in these quarters before the dukey hit the fan.

    Who knew Barney Frank was a libertarian?

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