Wednesday, December 28, 2011

National Review Has A Go At Wall Street

Kevin Williamson
Kevin Williamson, Deputy Managing Editor of National Review, is a very smart man.  He also has the look of someone who has done hard time, which tends to put me in a bit of an intimidated position when I read his know, he's smarter than I am, and he looks like he knows how to kill me in several imaginative ways.

Williamson has an article in the latest National Review, and National Review Online has graciously posted it here. In it, Williamson does a manful job of exposing the high state of crony capitalism running amok in the United States, fueled in no small measure by the ultra-cozy relationship between major Wall Street types and politicians of both parties.  Few emerge from this article unscathed, and if Williamson is to be believed, few should.

Many people wonder how Wall Street could have been so famously enthralled by the young man from Illinois, he of nary two years of undistinguished Senate experience.  Wasn't he a "share the wealth" guy?  Didn't he sound vaguely anti-capitalist?  Well--yes, He did.   But--and here is where Williamson is at his best--we shouldn't confuse Wall Street with free market capitalism.  It is a place in fact, where free-market capitalism has been replaced by state influenced--dare I say Fascist--collusion between government and capital.  So those who shook their head in wonder as investment banker millions piled into Barack Obama's coffers simply saw things wrong.  They weren't voting against their interests...they were voting FOR their interests--and that is, the best bet for continuing to give them the thumb on the scale needed to make the money they want to make.

I know, I know--I sound like a populist.  I sound like I am anti-Wall Street.  Well, I'm not.  I believe Wall Street carries out a necessary function in our-nay, the world's--economy.  I know there are a ton of hard working, virtuous people who do their very best to ensure shareholder value in their enterprises.  But you've really got to wonder how it was that SO MANY people that you once believed saw the world like you do voted for and financially supported a candidate so diametrically opposed to your beliefs.  The answer clearly is that I was wrong about them.  Those who voted for President Obama aren't interested in free markets and minimal regulation; those who voted for President Obama are interested largely in keeping the good deal that they had going as long as it could go.  Williamson's portrayal of  the sneering contempt with which some on Wall Street view REAL free-market capitalists (like the guy who sold you your car, who paved your driveway, who renovated your house) may have been a bit overdone, but it hit a nerve with me.

I've been a pretty consistent backer of Wall Street, and a fairly loud backer of free markets.  I'll continue to do both--but I will sharpen my thinking and rhetoric and be more willing to write about excesses enabled by the all-too-cozy relationship between Washington and Wall Street.  I hope that a change of administrations next year can move the issue forward, in a way that returns free-market principles to the world of high finance. But we all know where "hope" got us this time....

1 comment:

"The Hammer" said...

In the 80's the bankers got in trouble with loans to Mexico. They came hat in hand to Treasury Sec. Jim Baker and President Reagan looking a bailout. They were politely shown the door. Same thing happened with Clinton, and Rubin got 'em well.

Since then every politician has licked the ass of Wall Street money changers to the tune of trillions in taxpayer subsidies and bailouts. This is a moral hazard and a moral disgrace! Too big to fail my ass!

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