I’m generally sympathetic to the conservative argument that larger government means more opportunity for distortion, but in light of current events, this sort of bleating leaves me unimpressed.

The distribution of a trillion dollars by a political institution — the federal government — will be nonpolitical? How could it be? Either markets allocate resources, or government — meaning politics — allocates them. Now that distrust of markets is high, Americans are supposed to believe that the institution they trust least — Congress — will pony up $1 trillion and then passively recede, never putting its 10 thumbs, like a manic Jack Horner, into the pie? Surely Congress will direct the executive branch to show compassion for this, that and the other industry. And it will mandate “socially responsible” spending — an infinitely elastic term — by the favored companies.

I mean, look. This is true, but I’m not exactly sure what George Will proposes as an alternative. As is, the unregulated free market has sprung an international financial crisis of proportion great enough to bankrupt a small country. Those on Wall Street (traders, ratings agencies, etc) worked in tandem with unscrupulous lenders to build a monolithic house of cards whose collapse is beginning to smother the entire economy. So, yes, government allocation of spending has its drawbacks, but it seems the most salient criticism — that it curtails growth at the margins — sounds considerably better than the status quo.


3 Responses to “Alternatives”

  1. Sonic Charmer Says:

    “As is, the unregulated free market has sprung an international financial crisis of proportion great enough to …”

    What ‘unregulated free market’ are you talking about, exactly? Wall Street and its financial tricks may be many things, but ‘unregulated’ it is not; this house of cards was built, and collapsed, under the supposedly watchful eye of some of the heaviest regulation you’ll see in any industry. The fact that such government oversight didn’t stave off a collapse seems to buttress Will’s point, not yours.

  2. Jon Says:

    You’re referring, I assume, to the heavily regulated market for “non-bank” institutions that allowed them to leverage at 35-1 ratios?

  3. Sonic Charmer Says:

    I’m referring to the financial sector in general.

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