19.5.13

GOVERNANCE IS FORCE.

An editorial in London's Telegraph urges the fanatics who see Richard Nixon and Watergate behind every Obama Administration abuse of power to back off.
The breaches of public trust not only threaten the bipartisan votes necessary to pass key second term legislation like immigration reform, they undercut the president's ability to make his larger legacy case that progressive governance can be efficient and effective.
There are several possible ways to proceed.

First, there's the Cafe Hayek claim that such governance can be neither.
Because the regulators have the same psychological foibles as the regulatees – yet face far less direct feedback on their decisions than do those whom they regulate – turning more decision-making power over to government increases the frequency of human error and amplifies its ill-effects.  Markets keep those errors less numerous and their effects more confined.

Human beings are not laboratory rats to be controlled and conditioned by some elite of their number who, somehow and without explanation, manage to become higher-order creatures simply by working for government and professing deep concern for the welfare of their lab animals.
It's a challenge for me to introduce the challenge to optimal taxation and targeted tax cuts and subsidies implied by that second paragraph.  Perhaps it's too flip to suggest that carefully crafted tax incentives turn humans into gerbils, but all the same.

There's a more troubling suggestion from John Kass.  Democratic politics are not about Herbert Croly and Promise, they're about Richard Daley and Clout.
Joe Ricketts considered funding a political group critical of Obama before last year's campaign. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama's former chief of staff, made it clear that if the Cubs wanted City Hall's approval to refurbish decrepit Wrigley Field, Ricketts better back off.

It happened. He backed off. It was sickening. But it was and is Chicago.

And now — with the IRS used as political muscle and the Obama administration keeping that secret until after the president was elected — America understands it too.
Clout works, as long as there are rents to be generated and dissipated. But large stretches of Chicago are starting to look more like Detroit -- the ultimate case of what happens when there's nobody productive yet to strike a deal with -- and Belmont Club issues a caution.
A lying president debases his own words and undermines his own ability to hold a coalition together. Nobody completely trusts reassurances from a double-crosser. Only a fool would accept a kiss from Judas. The day comes when not even the liberals can fail to notice.

A nation as large as the United States works only if trust in its institutions is maintained. Destroy that and it’s pay as you go and as-is-where-is. Once everything comes down to the caprice of one man, to basing contracts on the secret will of cabals, then it’s all over. It’s bad for business — whatever business you happen to be in.
Doesn't matter whether that cabal is of Democrat operatives in government, descendants of Long March parents in China's Communist Party, or bridge-playing Harvard graduates in finance. People will devote their effort to opting out.

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