The Right Coast

Editor: Thomas A. Smith
University of San Diego
School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Is it too late to become a French socialist?
Tom Smith

As I enjoy telling my classes, years ago I worked on a series of deals for a big French company that was partly owned by the French government.  It was your classic French setup.  The CEO and top officers of this company were classic French technocrats, graduates of grandes ecoles in Paris, quantitatively oriented, smart and tough.  They took the metro to work.  When they saw how American corporate officers lived, the private jets and hunting lodges, they could not wait to buy the American companies and join the fun.  But before they were corrupted, they were models of civic responsibility.  If you had to have semi-public bureaucrats running a big industrial company, these would be the guys.

Is it a good system?  No, it's terrible.  Inefficient and all that.  But now consider what Congress is considering.  (via here.) An oversight board for GM run by Congress?  Are you out of your mind?  Somehow the unfathomably inefficient US auto industry when mated with the bafflingly corrupt Congress will result in something better?  If we are going to go socialist, could we at least do it in a semi-intelligent way?  Could we at least imitate Old Europe and not Latin America?  Could we at least decline in a decorus manner and not explode into a horrific pork fandango?  The idea is to become socialist and die slowly of ossifcation, not glut yourself to death in an orgy of incompetence.

Barney Frank really is the most dangerous man in America.  How soon and how hard Obama steps on him is going to be the measure of his presidency.  Frank is just a flat out crony-corporatist-socialist, a plunder puppy, who wants his hands on the economy so he and his pals can run it out of Washington. This is not high minded Harvard School of Public Health style socialism.  This is really bad stuff.

http://rightcoast.typepad.com/rightcoast/2008/11/is-it-too-late-to-become-a-french-socialist-tom-smith.html

| Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341bf6e253ef010535f9bed9970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Is it too late to become a French socialist?
Tom Smith
:

Comments

FWIW I agree with those who are opposed to a government bailout of the American automotive industry. Not that anyone really cares. Apparently the UAW pays its bills and Congress will deliver promised services.

I felt the same way about the housing and banking mess.

In all these messes the stones that set off the ripples that grew into these tsunamis were cast by Congress. As usual.

I won't bore you with a rant about this. You can do your own homework if this is of any interest to you. I will say that in the normal coarse of a con artist-sucker relationship the sucker usually, at the very least, gets an education and the confidence artist eventually gets caught. In our relationship with our government, however, we never learn, do we? We actually go back again and again, almost begging to be fleeced one more time.

I don't blame the bankers, the stock market, the so-called fat cats, or the mortgage companies all that much. People are often greedy and short-sighted. I blame the meddlesome, power drunk magical thinkers who set up the con; who create the conditions that make these situations almost inevitable and the suckers, us, who uncritically believe the headlines and the campaign slogans.

Posted by: Ralph | Nov 18, 2008 11:36:26 AM

Obama needs to do something equivalent to firing the air controllers in order to establish that he has some substance. Otherwise Congressional and world leaders are going to walk all over him. Unfortunately, Obama, like Bill Clinton, may be too weak personally to pull off something like this. He may not even realize that it is necessary.

Posted by: Jonathan | Nov 18, 2008 2:09:50 PM

"how American corporate officers lived, the private jets and hunting lodges,...": which is also corrupt, is it not? They take advantage of flaws in company law to pillage the shareholders.

Posted by: dearieme | Nov 18, 2008 4:24:01 PM

Stepping on Barney Frank is dangerous business in these times less you be accused of being a homophobe by the "No-on-8" crowd.

Is he corrupt and dangerous? Absolutely. Does it have anything to do with his sexuality? Not a bit. Will that stop his cronies from using that excuse as a defense against critics? Are you kidding...

Posted by: Tom | Nov 19, 2008 5:48:14 AM

which is also corrupt, is it not?

Did you just stop reading at the end of that sentence?? Because, you know, right there after the point where you stopped reading and started writing is this:

"but before they were corrupted,"

Posted by: Hogarth | Nov 19, 2008 5:58:50 AM

1-) There are several privatized toll roads in Latin America. There are ten major highways serving the city of São Paulo. ALL of them are privatized or going to be. Things like the Big Dig are becoming a relic of the past here.

Mexico, Chile, Colombia and even Argentina sucessfully have done projects like that.

2-) Sorry to point out: we know the winners of election four HOURS after the polls are closed, not four weeks later. And we don´t need "recounts", even if the result is close.

3-) There are individual tax credits for health care and private education.

Sure, there are several problems(Yes, I think that Brazil SHOULD privatized it´s state owned banks, the Kirchner couple is destroying Argentina). But you should be careful while pointing out to Latin America.

Posted by: Andre Kenji | Nov 19, 2008 6:12:02 AM

Funny, I've been thinking since Obama won that I should move to France or Montreal. If I'm going to be a socialist, I should at least get the benefit of better food and more experienced socialist politicians. Mmmm, Paris in the spring.

Posted by: Lawmom | Nov 19, 2008 6:24:58 AM

Barney Frank strikes me as the kind of individual who, when meeting a prospective boyfriend, doesn't look for size in the *ahem* "usual place."

Nope, when Barney goes looking for "size" he looks at...the bulge in the guy's wallet pocket.

Posted by: MarkJ | Nov 19, 2008 7:08:49 AM

Snails or tamales? I'll go with tamales. No, I'm not shallow. Why do you ask?

Posted by: Tennwriter | Nov 19, 2008 7:46:53 AM

"They take advantage of flaws in company law to pillage the shareholders."

Corporate shareholders at least have the option to sell out of a corrupt company. Where do I go to sell my stake in Washington, Inc.? And who'd be fool enough to buy it?

Posted by: John Stephens | Nov 19, 2008 8:30:39 AM

Awesome blog post. Link on the way.

Posted by: K T Cat | Nov 19, 2008 8:35:12 AM

Very good post, but I cannot blame Andre Kenji for pointing out that Latin America has been busy liberalizing the economy. The fact is that, over the last century, there are very few countries that have become more socialist/less economically free; those that come to mind are the following: Sweden, Argentina, Britain ... and the USA.

Perhaps a more appropriate comparison is not to Latin America, but to Britain 1945--1977 (the latter date is when the IMF told the British government to put their house in order).

Posted by: Snorri Godhi | Nov 19, 2008 9:43:49 AM

I wouldn't use Brasil as a good example of anything. Have you actually been down there? The country is one big cluster f*ck.

Posted by: Bobby | Nov 19, 2008 10:08:52 AM

Andre Kenji,
Good points. The US is fantastically uneducated about Latin America (where did that lame name come from?). News of Latin America is dominated by Hugo Chavez, so most in the US think all of our neighbors to the south are similar. Some of us know better, but we are in the minority (Congress, approve Colombian free-trade already!).

John Stevens,
You can't sell your stake in Washington (unless you actually own something there), but you can move to another country. There's a risk/reward decision in doing so. Despite numerous (and becoming more numerous) flaws in our Republic, there is a certain conviction of stability for those of us living in the USA (if might be an unfounded assumption, but it's a conviction nevertheless), that might not exist in some of today's flourishing economies ... but they exist. If you truly want to "sell your stake in Washington" that's one way you can do it. If you want to change Washington to be something you like better, there are all sorts of ways you can contribute. You can run for office, volunteer for a candidate you believe in (if you can find one), vote.

Posted by: AnAverageAmerican | Nov 19, 2008 6:21:26 PM

Andre Kenji,
Good points. The US is fantastically uneducated about Latin America (where did that lame name come from?). News of Latin America is dominated by Hugo Chavez, so most in the US think all of our neighbors to the south are similar. Some of us know better, but we are in the minority (Congress, approve Colombian free-trade already!).

John Stevens,
You can't sell your stake in Washington (unless you actually own something there), but you can move to another country. There's a risk/reward decision in doing so. Despite numerous (and becoming more numerous) flaws in our Republic, there is a certain conviction of stability for those of us living in the USA (if might be an unfounded assumption, but it's a conviction nevertheless), that might not exist in some of today's flourishing economies ... but they exist. If you truly want to "sell your stake in Washington" that's one way you can do it. If you want to change Washington to be something you like better, there are all sorts of ways you can contribute. You can run for office, volunteer for a candidate you believe in (if you can find one), vote.

Posted by: AnAverageAmerican | Nov 19, 2008 7:32:23 PM

André Kenji said

2-) Sorry to point out: we know the winners of election four HOURS after the polls are closed, not four weeks later. And we don´t need "recounts", even if the result is close

You used to do better. In the past you knew election winners four MONTHS before the polls were closed. :-)

Posted by: JFM | Feb 3, 2009 3:45:16 AM