Or I should say it’s all our fault. Nothing about the current economic crisis in anyway discredits the underlying tenets of free-market capitalism. The system worked (and continues to work) exactly as it should. Willi Schlamm’s clich? still holds, “the problem with capitalism is capitalists; the problem with socialism is socialism.” The fundamentals of the system are sound; the individuals operating within the system (also known as humans) are not. The road to an extremely bad place is paved with good intentions. I wouldn’t call where we find ourselves Hell, but it is an extremely bad place. And it was good intentions, beginning with the Community Reinvestment Act, to the subtle screws applied by Janet Reno’s justice department, to the government-backed overextension of Freddie and Fannie that got us to where we find ourselves.
When it all went to (an extremely bad place) in September, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced, “Laissez-faire is finished.” Au contraire, M. Pr?sident. Laissez-faire is exactly what’s now called for. Only in the Bizzaro World of politics does more regulation on the downside make sense. Why not load bricks onto a sinking ship? Try most of the proposed “fixes” and it won’t only be bricks, but billions (trillions?) more of taxpayer money, more houses, more jobs, more in retirement savings, investment capital … you get the idea. In answer to the Washington Post‘s absurd question, “Is American capitalism dead?” American capitalism will only die by our hand. For an excellent re-cap of the ills of recent government-induced moral hazard, read Daniel Henniger’s Wonderland piece in today’s Wall Street Journal.