The editors of the WSJ: Liberals discover the right’s critique of regulation.
We don’t expect miracles from Presidents, even from those who pretend they can perform them, so we haven’t been among those blaming Barack Obama for running a government that can’t plug a well a mile under the sea. We’ve left that outrage to his one-time cheering section on the left, which has been begging Mr. Obama, imploring him, berating him, to locate and unleash his inner demagogue in reaction to the Gulf disaster.
What a spectacle this has been, with the anchors from MSNBC, the various columnists and his Newsweek Boswells furious and frustrated that the President hasn’t demanded the heads of BP executives on pikes. All he’s done so far is allow his Attorney General to loudly announce a criminal investigation of the spill — nothing demagogic about that — in mid-crisis and without any apparent criminal behavior on the public record.
The liberals’ fury at the President is almost as astounding as their outrage over the discovery that oil companies and their regulators might have grown too cozy. In economic literature, this behavior is known as “regulatory capture,” and the current political irony is that this is a long-time conservative critique of the regulatory state.
The Nobel economist George Stigler of the University of Chicago was one of the concept’s main developers, and it is a seminal plank of the “public choice” school of economics for which James Buchanan won the economics Nobel in 1986. Ronald Reagan warned about this in different words in one of his farewell speeches.
The rest here.