March 28, 2008

Same Ball Game, Different Field

I have only a few observations about this completely predictable story in our major state print outlet: "Treasury's Plan Would Give Fed Wide New Power." Wide new power for the government? Say what?? I appreciate that you are entirely stunned.

I first note a priceless comment over at Calculated Risk (I told you that you should be reading that blog), and please note that Calculated Risk's entry offers an earlier headline for the same NYT story -- "Treasury Dept. Seeks New U.S. Power to Keep Markets Stable." The comment:
Achtung! Achtung! writes:

"Duh markets vill remain schtable und dey vill like it! Ve wil send die SCHVAT teams into duh wery korners uf duh industrie und ve vill prevail!"
Mel Brooks has come unto his kingdom. Accept it, deal with it, celebrate it if you wish.

Next, I would like you to consider this. We have all become painfully aware that after the criminal, monumental catastrophe of Iraq, many luminaries have offered us their plans and suggestions as to how we should ensure we never repeat the same error. Of course, these luminaries are all the same exact people who urged, cajoled, intimidated, lied, and bamboozled the United States into Iraq in the first place. Fox, hen house, etc.

I've written about this in many essays. One is especially relevant here: "How the Foreign Policy Consensus Protects Itself." In that piece, I excerpted an article by Andrew Bacevich, who wrote in part:
Even as Washington waits with bated breath for the Iraq Study Group (ISG) to release its findings, the rest of us should see this gambit for what it is: an attempt to deflect attention from the larger questions raised by America's failure in Iraq and to shore up the authority of the foreign policy establishment that steered the United States into this quagmire. This ostentatiously bipartisan panel of Wise Men (and one woman) can't really be searching for truth. It is engaged in damage control.

Their purpose is twofold: first, to minimize Iraq's impact on the prevailing foreign policy consensus with its vast ambitions and penchant for armed intervention abroad; and second, to quell any inclination of ordinary citizens to intrude into matters from which they have long been excluded. The ISG is antidemocratic. Its implicit message to Americans is this: We'll handle things - now go back to holiday shopping.
Change the terminology as required, shift the focus from foreign to domestic intervention, recognize that the same elites that created this crisis are now instructing us all as to how it should be fixed, and you're home free.

And rather than tax your brain trying to untangle the nightmarish details of all the new regulatory schemes now being proposed, many of which will doubtless be enacted and create a host of new problems (which may not explode for a decade or two, but explode they will in time), I suggest the following questions which may get you to the truth of what is happening much faster: As is true in the realm of foreign policy, how are the ruling elites (here, the economic-financial-regulatory elites) trying to protect themselves? How are they attempting to maintain their preexisting fundamental view of how economic activity should be organized and controlled? And: How are they making certain that "ordinary citizens" continue to have no voice at all in those matters that most affect their own lives?

Answer those questions, and I think you will have a much more accurate idea of what is going on. As Bacevich notes: "The [Iraq Study Group] exemplifies the result: a befuddled, but essentially passive-electorate looks for guidance to a small group of unelected insiders reflecting a narrow range of views and operating largely behind closed doors." And as we all now know or certainly should know, the elites' self-appointed "experts" are almost universally wrong.

There. I may have saved you from ten or fifteen excruciating migraines. You're entirely welcome.