The Corner

End of an Era Wishful Thinking

It is entirely possible that John McCain will lose the coming election. It was always the Democrats’ to lose, and circumstances have shored up a dicey candidate. But please spare us today’s New York Times financial columnist’s blather about the end of the conservative era — indeed, the end of free market ideology itself.

Author John Harwood appears overeager to make this pronouncement. He leads off his funeral oration for capitalism and conservatism by telling us that, “Democrats (and me, and my editors and everyone in my neighborhood), view Wall Street’s cry for a government rescue in light of what Senator Barack Obama calls “the final verdict” on the free-market ideology that has reigned, for the most part, in American politics for the last generation….Obama Democrats press for Washington to regulate financial institutions, augment the health insurance system and redistribute income through adjustments to the tax code.”

Final verdict? Wishful thinking. Obama thinks that a market collapse occasioned by government policies forcing banks to abdicate all fiduciary sense and make loans to the unqualified, while insuring them through federally subsidized Fannie May and Freddie Mac, says something final about capitalism’s limits. The media willingly broadcasts that view, with no notation that it is not some objective truth, but rather the opinion of a left-wing, redistributionist candidate for office.

Yet again one marvels that there are no political leaders on the right who are sufficiently intelligent, articulate and motivated to come out and make the opposite case: that this should be read as a very serious verdict on meddling with the wisdom of market practice, especially in the case of the long term effort to redistribute money and property to the poor — as if that will make them wealthy, or teach them the skills and habits of the self-sufficient. Newt? Rush? Bill Clinton?

Because we will all suffer for it, it is no consolation to have faith that, should Obama, Pelosi, Frank, Reid and Co. take control of government, and meddle as they promise to, in the economy, they will learn right quick that those wealth producing markets don’t work when you mess with them too much. And you can’t reallocate what isn’t produced. And by the way, the wealthy — of whom many were created in this 25 year conservative, free market ascendancy – can sit on their money longer than you think. So good luck running that recovery.

John McCain may lose, as I said above. But winning this round may not be such a prize. Obama can do a lot of damage, to be sure, on the courts, in prolonging and deepening what could be a mere recession, and by undermining American standing overseas by fundamentally misunderstanding the nature of power. That would be tragic and I hope McCain can prevent it. But the odds that the next president is not going to be a hero four years from now strike me as slender.


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