So I started a piece by Gary Becker entitled: The Great Recession and Government Failure. I assumed that it was going to be about how difficult it is to convert blackboard economic policy into real world economic policy and how given that it might be better to take your lumps with the market.
I was thinking it would makes some good points which I could use to talk about “Nihilism All the Way Down” which is the problem that if we accept too many “failures” we end up concluding that the world can only be whatever it is right now.
For example, the market suffers from market failure. Efforts to correct that with the government suffer from government failure. However, efforts to constrain the government could suffer from “liberalization failure”, a term I use to mean the collapse in support for free markets that comes when bad stuff happens. I am sure whatever we do to correct for liberalization failure will suffer from its own failure and away we go down the Nihilistic Escalator until we conclude that its just failure all the way down.
Now, point of fact, that might well be true. But, it certainly no fun and there is no real point to spending a lot of time with. Perhaps that would be Nihilism Failure or even Failure Failure.
So, this would have been an interesting jumping off point. Instead though, I get a diatribe against the current government complete with tropes like
In the U.S., these government actions include an almost $1 trillion in federal spending that was supposed to stimulate the economy. Leading government economists, backed up by essentially no evidence, argued that this spending would stimulate the economy by enough to reduce unemployment rates to under 8%.
Such predictions have been so far off the mark as to be embarrassing. Although definitive studies are not yet available about the stimulus package’s overall effects on the American economy, most everyone agrees that it was badly designed and executed. What the stimulus did produce is a sizable expansion of the federal deficit and debt.
The misdiagnosis of widespread market failure led congressional leaders, after the 2008 election, to propose radical changes in financial institutions and, more generally, much wider regulation and government control of companies and consumer behavior. They proposed higher taxes on upper-income families and businesses, and extensive controls over executive pay, as they bashed “billionaire” businessmen with private planes and expensive lifestyles.
Aside from a somewhat sloppy treatment of the facts this piece is a little more than an exclamation. A simple, “the administration is a bunch of buttheads” would have be told us about as much.
Yet, obviously Gary Becker is capable of much more. Is it simply that the Journal won’t print it?