Sunday, November 20, 2011

If only the good guys were in charge... 

From my perspective, it is fine--not optimal, but fine--that Barack Obama is not a liberal. Somebody pursuing effective technocratic centrist policies that work would be an enormous asset to the world right now.
- Brad DeLong

Actually, Brad, I'd rather he was a liberal and were biased against "technocratic centrist policies". This is just another version of "If only the smart people (like me!) were in charge". As far as I can tell, "centrist technocrats" turned controversial safety net policies into completely unsustainable univeral entitlements; demands for better working wages into unkeepable retirement promises, and financial regulation into a giant, brittle triple-A safe harbor.

Centrist technocrats are the government version of an all-pizza diet.

Alas, many political persuasions fall into this trap. Consider Peggy Noonan this weekend:

The theory applies also to our politics. America is in political decline in part because we've elevated salesmen—people good on the hustings and good in the room, facile creatures with good people skills—above people who love the product, which is sound and coherent government—"good government," as they used to say. To make that product you need a certain depth of experience. You need to know the facts, the history, how the system works, what the people want, what the moment demands.


By Blogger Assistant Village Idiot, at Sun Nov 20, 07:47:00 PM:

Because we all know that centrist technocrats are entirely unbiased, unmoved by emotional appeals, and have no tribal loyalties of their own to protect.

The government provided guarantees that caused many of us - lenders, buyers, investors, and advisors - to take unwarranted risks which we now cringe at. Centrist technocrats seem to have led the way rather than prevented this. Nicholas Nassim Taleb, I grant, was an exception to my accusation.  

By Blogger Neil Sinhababu, at Mon Nov 21, 12:18:00 AM:

The entitlements themselves are perfectly sustainable, as long as you can keep the price of health care from going totally out of control. And if the price of health care goes totally out of control, we're in deep trouble whether the public or private sector picks up the costs.  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Mon Nov 21, 12:18:00 AM:

"Somebody pursuing effective technocratic centrist policies that work would be an enormous asset to the world right now."

Hayek refuted this conceit years ago. We've seen several "controlled experiments" that prove his thesis. China will be next, unless Obama & Co keep getting their way.  

By Anonymous E Hines, at Mon Nov 21, 08:42:00 AM:

...we're in deep trouble whether the public or private sector picks up the costs.

What is the distinction, exactly, between the public and the private sectors? It is this: the public sector is a reduced set of the private sector. The public funding comes from the private sector, and that funding is reduced before it makes it back into the private sector by the frictions of passing through government as intermediary. Note that this is an optimistic estimate of the reduction: it elides other decrementing factors, like government graft, political favoritism, and so on.

Eric Hines  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Nov 22, 04:01:00 PM:

I am convinced first that personality types are at the basis of the origins of every political hybrid.

Just as I am convinced too that we have made it possible, even mandatory that we elect eloquent salesmen to every office.

As salesmen are wont to do, they must sell something all the time, so they piggy back even more inane adjuncts to laws they already passed just to look productive.

How long is America gonna keep buying this crap from D.C.?  

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