In the course of pondering the appropriate fate of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler David Brooks provides some misdirection to his readers.
First, and apparently to mask his normal right of center leanings, he tells us who the real bogeyman is:
It is all a reminder that the biggest threat to a healthy economy is not the socialists of campaign lore. It’s C.E.O.’s. It’s politically powerful crony capitalists who use their influence to create a stagnant corporate welfare state.
Well, yes, as are rent seekers everywhere, they are miscreants. But are they really a bigger threat to a healthy economy than those politicians who continually enable them at the national, state and local level?
He closes his essay with the following:
But the larger principle is over the nature of America’s political system. Is this country going to slide into progressive corporatism, a merger of corporate and federal power that will inevitably stifle competition, empower corporate and federal bureaucrats and protect entrenched interests? Or is the U.S. going to stick with its historic model: Helping workers weather the storms of a dynamic economy, but preserving the dynamism that is the core of the country’s success.
Brooks must be living in an alternate reality; or perhaps is simply delusional.
This country’s slide into progressive corporatism began long ago and dramatically accelerated from the mid 19th through the 20th centuries.
If you want a root cause of the current economic fiasco you need look no further than the financial, industrial and agricultural structures that have been created over the past 200 years by our politicians. Yes, often at the behest of corporate rent seekers.
Our federal, state and local politicians did not have to choose to entwine themselves in a web of corporatism. But they did and it has had exactly the effects that Brooks called out: stifled competition and protection of entrenched interests.
Plus the bonus effect, inter alia, of the current financial crisis.