Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bill Maher's Show & the Crisis

I've long been a fan of Bill Maher's show, which combines humor with serious political discussion. I thought Friday's show, with Salman Rushdie, Janeane Garofalo, and John Fund (of the Wall Street Journal), was especially good. Here's link to the YouTube of the first part with the panelists on YouTube.

There is some economics in the second part of the panelist discussion, in which Fund decries the bailouts of Bear Stearns, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae. I can't tell what he's arguing for--does he think the government should have let them all fail and drag the rest of the economy down with them? This strikes me as a prime example of the incoherence of the conservative position on government's role in the economy. Eight years of Bush have brought us a hands-off approach to regulation, which has led to the need for the bailouts to stave off total financial collapse. And now people like Fund want to say that the bailout themselves are the problem!?

By the way, here is Obama's thoughtful and detailed speech on financial regulation from last March. Here are brief thoughts on McCain's nearly content-free speech on the housing crisis during the same week.

1 comment:

Steve Roth said...

"incoherence of the conservative position on government's role in the economy."

Triple irony:

In The Great Contraction, Milton Friedman argues (accurately) that the Fed's (non)reaction to 1929--failure to ease monetary policy--caused the Depression to continue for years beyond what it should have.

That (non)reaction was based on free-market orthodoxy: the necessity of creative destruction.

So the Fed was at fault because it hewed to the principles for which Friedman is the poster-child. So the Fed should be eradicated.

Friedman's contemporary heirs continue to tie themselves in knots over this fundamental contradiction within their belief system.