Thursday, June 11, 2009

Craving Coolidge


Well, at least he's not hankerin' for Hoover, but George Will is apparently smitten with the wit and wisdom of Calvin Coolidge. Will's in full-scale "angry old man" mode, shaking his stick angrily at all the whippersnappers who make irresponsible choices. His editorial is largely "stream of consciousness" - "things that bother me, right now" - rather than a coherent expression of anything (other than, perhaps, his appreciation for Coolidge).

One of Will's complaints is about the Smoot-Hawley tariff of 1930 (darn you, Herbert Hoover!), I mean, cap-and-trade:
The Smoot-Hawley tariff of 1930 ignited reciprocal protectionism that suffocated global trade and deepened the Depression. The cap-and-trade legislation passed recently by a House committee is Smoot-Hawley in drag: It contains provisions for tariffs on imports designated "carbon-intensive" - goods manufactured under less carbon-restrictive rules than those of the proposed U.S. cap-and-trade regime. Eco-protectionism is a recipe for reciprocity.
Yes, that could happen, whether as a result of cap-and-trade or any other tax on carbon emissions, although one hopes that the international trade organizations that have come into being since Hoover's era will help mitigate the imposition of tariffs and retaliation. But (other than ignoring science and pretending that global warming doesn't exist) what's Will's solution? No, wait, I think that is Will's solution.

You gotta love this, as well:
Trillions of dollars of capital are being allocated sub-optimally, by politically tainted government calculations rather than by the economic rationality of markets. Hence the nation's prospects for long-term robust growth - and for funding its teetering architecture of entitlements - are rapidly diminishing.
I recognize that those who worship at the altar of the free market will always find a way to blame the government for bubbles, inflation, recessions, whatever. But the Chrysler and GM bailouts hardly register in relation to the financial industry meltdown. Will may be correct that the better approach would have been for G.W. Bush to simply let market forces prevail, and for AIG, Citigroup, and others to go through bankruptcy, but if that's what he believes, why does he focus on the auto industry bailout? And if it's not what he believes, what business does he have focusing on the auto industry bailout, beyond the fact that the specifics of that bailout were defined by Obama's administration instead of Bush's? Is his answer, once again, that when faced with a global crisis the government should do nothing?

As for Will's swipes at entitlements and Social Security, I'm wondering... is he true to his convictions, or is he channeling Grandpa Simpson? That is, is he turning down Medicare and Social Security benefits, or protesting, I didn't earn it, I don't need it, but if they miss one payment I'll raise hell!"

1 comment:

  1. Oh how I wish my scanner was working! I have a lovely picture of Calvin Coolidge-as-pimp picture colored by one of my kiddos. It is awesome. We're talking red suit, red and black hat w/ feather, stylish pimp beard. It's on my refrigerator as I type!

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