Saturday, October 1, 2016

Irving Wladawsky-Berger is Puzzled

There is an interesting article in today's WSJ, that centers around the following quotation:

"Growth has ground to a halt almost everywhere, and economists, investors, and ordinary citizens are starting to confront a grim new reality: the world is stuck in the slow lane and nobody seems to know what to do about it."

The article then quotes a variety of extreme-left economists (Summers, Krugman, Gordon, Reinhart, Rogoff) who mostly push their pet political themes -- demanding more government, mostly lamenting the very existence of free markets.  All of these economists seem to advocate what I call the "new feudalism."

The "new feudalism" is a world where bureacrats and experts run everything.  You won't recognize any of these folks in Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, because they played no role in his scheme of things.  Smith argued that individuals pursuing their own interest, unfettered by the heavy hand of government, was the reason why a few countries were breaking out of feudalism and into the modern era.

Now, we are headed in the other direction.  Individuals are now the enemy of the state.  Innovative companies and risk takers are public enemies.  Dividing a constant pie is the new game with an army of bureaucrats to enforce the rules and place arbitrary fines and penalties upon their enemies. The politicians daily opine on their view of what private risk taking should be allowed and what shouldn't.  Much of this is, of course, after the fact, when the results of risk taking are known.

The end game is a steady march back to feudalism, where the kings will be the politicians and the serfs will be those struggling in whatever is left of the free market after the politicians' lordly regulations have snuffed out the heart and soul of free economic activity.

Nowhere in Wladawsky-Berger's article is there any mention of the stifling regulations and arbitrary political interference in free markets that is now becoming commonplace in the US, Europe and Japan.  No wonder Wladawsky-Berger is puzzled.  Economic stagnation is the new reality and for good reason, though the left will never be able to figure it out, stuck as they are in a silly ideology comforting only to those with their head in the sand.

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