Monday, February 8, 2010

Inside DC baseball
Tom Smith

This article in the FT is making a splash in our nation's capitol.  High courtiers are criticized.  (Lame registration necessary to view but at least it's free).

I'm not sure I care too much.  Raum Emanuel sounds like a man who is trying to ruin the country, but if you get to know him personally, you would realize he is not at all a nice man.  But plenty of nice guys have terrible ideas, too.  And plenty of GOP insiders are people to whom you would not entrust you dog, or fish tank, let alone the country.  Then there is the fact that people tell me Hayek made something of, that the worst of people seem to be attracted to politics.  I assume this is for something like the reason that embezzlers are attracted to banks and pedophiles to teaching, but I haven't thought it through.  Maybe the Obama administration is about bad things happening to bad people who are trying to do bad things.  Strangely, our young President himself seems like a reasonably nice guy, but what do I know.  I knew the woman in charge of health care reform for the WH years ago, though not very well.  She seemed to me quite smart, very nice, a perfect lady in fact. And yet she is a point person of a policy I view as horribly destructive and misguided.

One trite but true observation is that the job of POTUS is almost impossible anyway, and there's no reason to think anybody but the most proven sorts would be any good at it at all.  As some of us warned, there was no reason at all to think that a charming junior Senator from one of America's most politically corrupt states and with many dubious associations was going to be any good at that extremely difficult job.  Why not send some promising junior tennis player to climb K2 alpine style?  The president's election was never more than a case of mass hysteria and the madness of crowds, at least on the part of those who thought they were not electing just an inexperienced left-winger who appeared well in front of big crowds.  Oh well.

And yet for all this, it's too soon to write our young President off.  The economy may come back, and may come back hard when it does. The housing market in Canada is now soaring up and our Fed appears to be poised to do the right things respecting money supply.  He could get as much credit for prosperity as he is getting blame now for the economy's battered state. And while he has done nearly as much as possible not to improve things, it really cannot be blamed on him.  And ironically, by stopping many of the Dem's worst ideas, the GOP may end up doing O a favor.  As a smart man, he may even know this, maybe unconsciously.  It might explain his refusal to fully invest himself in health care reform;  yes, he's given lots of speeches, but he has refused to really lead the process in Congress.  But that could also be because he does not know how and he is unwilling to risk personal failure.

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Tom Smith


The bit about the Canadian housing market is interesting. Krugman et al have been going on and on about what a wonderful job the Canadian bank regulators did, and how we have so much to learn from them. I knew there had to be a catch, and there is: they had the boom, but not the bust.

Posted by: anon | Feb 8, 2010 9:23:07 AM

Canada looks good now because it's relatively static. It lags when we are flying high. Now that we're in a bust the Canadian economy looks good, but it's basically overtaxed, overregulated and less dynamic and productive than ours is. In terms of countries to emulate, we can do better.

If our economy turns around on Obama's watch, great. But what if someone decides to attack us? That's what I worry about. Hayek was right, but some of our political jerks are worse than others. Obama is not one of the more able ones. Let's hope we're lucky.

Posted by: Jonathan | Feb 9, 2010 7:49:33 AM