Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bend over, taxpayer, and stay there

When you, Joe Citizen, spend frivolously and default on your loans, the bank takes your house. When the government spends your tax dollars frivolously, it simply cooks the books to cover its excesses. When the books are left in ashes, the government just takes more of your money, or it prints more money, leaving the money it hasn't already taken from you devalued. Over the last few weeks, we've learned that you now face the prospect of an additional indignity: When your neighbor's bank spends frivolously and defaults on its loans, the government's going to take your money then too, to keep the bank in business.

Many commenters have blamed all of this on capitalism. This isn't capitalism. It's a peculiar kind of corporatist socialism, where good risks and the resulting profits remain private, but bad risks and the resulting losses are passed on to taxpayers. There's nothing free-market about it.

Neither Barack Obama nor John McCain, nor either party's leadership in Congress, has proposed a reasonable plan to deal with the government's unfunded Social Security and Medicare liabilities. In fact, all have proposed expensive new government programs that can't possibly be funded over the long term. All seem both oblivious to the federal government's impending financial peril and intent on making it worse.[My emphasis]
The end of hubris: the belief that all that's needed is another
plan, irrespective of any limits there might be.

Economic illiterates.

They will be humbled in ways they can't imagine.

Unfortunately, the end result may be that our politicians make capitalism more accountable to them—the same people who have shown that when it comes to the government's finances, they're accountable to no one.
Highly recommended.