I just watched The Princess Bride again a couple of days ago. One of my favorite lines in the movie is when Inigo turns to Vizinni (after he said “Inconceivable!” for the bajillionth time) and says “You keep using this word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
That’s what I thought of (while simultaneously being glad that I wasn’t drinking anything at the time) when I read the following (quoted in this post):
Similarly, the philosophy that playing the game of business and investment without rules (the technical term is Laissez-faire Capitalism) has driven our government since the election of Ronald Reagan, and went on steroids during the last two years of the Clinton administration and throughout the Bush administration.
Now, I don’t disagree that we’re now paying for stupid bipartisan policies going back at least as far as “the Gipper”. I also ought to mention that I think that some of the things the author of the referenced blog post has written about the current economic situation have been spot on. I just don’t think that anyone in their right mind, who has any clue about economics, could claim that the US has been operating under a “Laissez-Faire” system over the past two decades. Heck, I’m not sure there’s ever been even a single year when the US operated under such a system in its whole existence.
An economic system that actively intervenes in a “pro-business” or “pro-investment” manner is not the same as one that is Laissez-Faire. Not even close. In many ways, we have the very mercantilist/corparatist economics system that most of the “Laissez-Faire Capitalists” wrote against.
So, while there’s plenty of blame for the current collapse to be found in greedy businessman, clueless Wall Street chearleaders, and conservative politics, there are also plenty of blame for liberals, well-meaning progressives, and even many of the existing regulations that both exacerbated, and in some cases created a false sense of security that helped lead to this mess.
Blaming the current economic crisis on “laissez-faire capitalism” makes as much sense as blaming droughts on purple elephants in Greenland. The two have nothing to do with each other.
[Note: for all the space readers who are sick of my non-space posts, I’ll make sure I post at least two space posts before I venture another economics or politics post]