Well, I wouldn’t say “dead,” but certainly my blog has been asleep for quite some time. But that’s over. So, time to get re-started. And with so much going on, it’s difficult to know where to start.
Let’s start with the big news of the day – the meltdown of all things economic in America. It’s amazing to see the collapse of Lehman Brothers and other major firms on Wall Street. But keeping with the point of this blog, I want to point to a post by Matthew Yglesias on what this mess and the federal government’s response to it tells us about liberalism:
And here we see a fundamental difference between the progressive worldview and the conservative worldview. Progressives believe in a robust safety net for everyone. It’s very possible, as we’re seeing, that you’ll experience financial hard times for reasons that have nothing to do with you. A lot of the people doing unskilled service work in the Lehman Brothers office may lose their jobs as a result of this unwinding even though they didn’t do anything wrong. And that sort of thing happens all the time — people get laid off because adverse things happen to the companies they work for. Or people are struck by other kinds of misfortune — they get hit by buses, hurricanes destroy their houses, all kinds of stuff. Misfortune strikes ordinary people, and not just billionaires. And in the case of ordinary people, just as in the case of billionaires, you can offer improve social welfare by helping people out when they wind up in trouble.
But conservatives don’t believe in that kind of safety net for regular people — just for the billionaires. Guaranteed health care? Forget it. Guaranteed retirement income? No way. Just let the market work, and when it stops working the executives will be okay and the rest of us will, oh, something or other.
Now let me say that I’m not suggesting that the federal government should be doing nothing to stop this financial meltdown. It can get bad enough where it starts having a huge impact on the real economy. Some firms are just too big to fail in a free-market-fundamentalist, all-hell-breaks-loose kind of way. However, if government is the final backer of firms that have achieved these proportions, then government gets a say in how these firms are run so that the worst outcomes are avoided.