September 24, 2009

The forest for the trees

Ever get the feeling politicians just don't get it (rhetorical question)? Angela Merkel said today that the G-20 Summit must focus on regulation.

"We must not define growth as the top and subordinate everything to this," she said.

The president's speech to the General Assembly was equally disconcerting. Global financial meltdowns, Iran heading towards the bomb. And he chooses a vapid speech on ... global warming. No matter your view, global warming is a long-term issue (if human-induced climate change is an issue at all). A new administration establishes its credibility in its first appearance at Turtle Bay by taking a stand on critical, pressing issues of the day. For all its faults, the previous administration did this. And whatever you say about Evil Ahmadinejad and Killer Kadafi, they certainly took a stand on more pressing issues (even though they were incoherent and/or insane).

Back to Merkel; I'm a fan, but what does her ridiculous logic imply? Regulation will be at the top and everything else will be subordinated to it. The orderly regulation and function of the markets is of course critical to the success of capitalist societies, but any regulation will be a by-product of growth, not its cause. If a particular market doesn't exist, there's little need for regulation of said market. It should make the agenda, but not the top. Reserve that for lowering tariffs and incentivizing investment and entrepreneurship.

The strong leadership we were promised is what's required, not airy comments on populist topics to already sympathetic audiences from which there is no disagreement. This is about the time I start to hope something will change.

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