31
Oct
08

Dispatch From The Titanic’s Bridge

I didn’t see the October 18th editorial in The Economist sooner than this morning for reasons connected to my current work situation.  I bought the issue last week after leaving a job interview downtown, stuffed the copy in my briefcase and forgot it was in there until this morning.  Chalk it up to the disruptions inherent in the unpaid toil of job-hunting.

That’s a shame, because written therein, during the height of unregulated capital’s global financial crisis, is some incredible stuff.

In the editorial entitled “Capitalism At Bay”, we are predictably fed the false binary choice in a dire warning:  a larger role for the state in regulating capitalism necessarily means a “smaller and more constrained private sector.”

We could stop right there and exit on a laugh line. Imagine that someone had instead written that “a greater number of prisons necessarily means fewer crimes are committed” or “having traffic signals at intersections necessarily reduces the number of vehicles on the streets”.

Poor, put-upon private sector!  If not for that nasty old state, you could really spread your wings and fly!

That howler is eclipsed three paragraphs later:

Even if it staves off disaster, the bail-out will cause huge problems. It creates moral hazard: such a visible safety net encourages risky behavior.

Can the free-market fundamentalist who penned the above be serious?  A visible safety net  – not widespread deregulation of securities trading – encourages risky behavior? Speaking as a US taxpayer and an unwilling part of that safety net, I can only ask: who among the unregulated credit derivative dealers of the past eight years, as they piled untold trillions into these insane instruments until banks and nations everywhere dropped to their knees, ever once thought past pocketing their own commissions?

How is it that the individual moral hazard is accepted or ignored, even lauded as a feature of “economic freedom” while nothing but scorn is reserved for the notion of having a pit boss at the blackjack tables?

The Economist: Denigrating the telescope and cheering the iceberg since 1843.

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2 Responses to “Dispatch From The Titanic’s Bridge”


  1. 1 Greg Dunlap
    October 31, 2008 at 8:34 am

    And despite all this they still came out and endorsed Obama today so they can’t be all bad.

  2. October 31, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    Well shit, so did the Chicago Tribune, and they outright advocated killing the homeless back in the 19th century. Something tells me pragmatism and not philosophy is in the drivers seat here, staring with the date on the calendar.


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