The ‘Too Big to Fail’ Era



Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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13 Responses

  1. Avatar North says:

    It’s a bit right slanted (but hey it’s Douthat) but it has a depressing underlying sense of being correct to it as well.Report

  2. Avatar Plinko says:

    I think Douthat has put to words what a lot of people have had trouble expressing about our troubled state of affairs – but I’d be interested to hear a reasonable prescription as to what can be done to slow/stop it, if not actually begin to reverse it. It seems he’s content to make the observation and then leave it at that.

    It’s not as if electing more Republicans to Congress is going to improve the situation, and certainly there are few Democrats interested in promoting less Federal control of anything. I can sit around and have Liberaltarian dreams and make the occasional blog comment, sure, but what more is there?

    I’d be very interested to read some reasonable, pragmatic suggestions about how we could start to reverse the trend beyond just sloganeering about taxes and wasteful spending.Report

    • Avatar historystudent in reply to Plinko says:

      @Plinko, Well, perhaps that is the difficulty. It is one thing to identify a problem, another to come up with solutions. Do you have some ideas?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to historystudent says:

        @historystudent, move back to circa 2000 staffing levels?

        Perhaps change the dynamic of pay/benefits for government jobs to be something like this: You want to make money and have great benefits, you work in the private sector… you prize stability more than anything else, you work for the government.Report

  3. Avatar greginak says:

    i read this , this morning and found it fairly flacid. i couldn’t really put my finger on it, but i just read ezra klein’s take which was essentially this. This statement “Taken case by case, many of these policy choices are perfectly defensible. Taken as a whole, they suggest a system that only knows how to move in one direction.” is at best a cop out and appeal to vague unease. He admits that many of the actual policies are probably wise, but he doesn’t want to take a stand on which policies those are or what should be done. He keeps his conclusion that government is growing which is bad then admits that some of his evidence doesn’t support his premise but he can’t give up his own idea or modify to fit his own admissions.Report

    • Avatar Mopey Duns in reply to greginak says:

      With respect, I don’t read Douthat’s statement as a copout. The situation he is describing is roughly analagous to the concept of tactical hell. When in tactical hell, you float from crisis to crisis, always trying to put out the most recent fire. While your tactical solution to any given problem may be correct, it does little to advance your strategic goals, and may actually impede them. It is a question of breadth of vision.

      It is not intrinsically unreasonable to suggest this might be the case.Report

      • Avatar gregiank in reply to Mopey Duns says:

        @Mopey Duns, That is a reasonable response. However i do think it avoids the issues a bit. Yes tactical hell is, ummm, hellish, but some of the individual choices like HCR were not based on a crisis but long standing policy preferences. He still does not say what should have been done instead of each individual choice. You could respond that he has done so in other pieces, which i would bet he has.

        He says increased regulation is one of the increasing powers of gov, but what is his option? How do we try to prevent another mega-spill in the gulf? How do we prevent mortgage fraud or unethical practices? How do we handle ultra large financial institutions whose failure could hurt us all? He seems to be saying that in some cases gov is the answer but he still doesn’t like it. Well either come up with a better solution or accept that maybe gov is the answer to some things.Report

        • Avatar Mopey Duns in reply to gregiank says:

          @gregiank, There would be others better equipped to defend Douthat and explain his policy preferences than I am. I have seldom read his work.

          My first thought is that the response to the fiscal crisis is a far better example of tactical hell than the HCR. The things that will be done to fix healthcare shortfalls will probably fall nicely into the tactical blunder category, however.

          My solution to these problems is dissolve the people and elect another. Less flippantly, as I grapple with thoughts on how best to address these issues, I am forced to come to the conclusion that there are often no good solutions.

          It is possible that we have reached a level of civilizational complexity where we need to simplify in order to keep things from getting worse, but the only way to simplify is catastrophically.

          It’s the System, man.Report

          • Avatar gregiank in reply to Mopey Duns says:

            @Mopey Duns, I’m all for simplicity. Although something like single payer HC is simpler then what we have. One set of federal regs is simpler then 50 sets of unique state regs. Simple is good, but that doesn’t necessarily point to the level of gov that is appropriate.Report

            • Avatar Mopey Duns in reply to gregiank says:

              @gregiank, I am Canadian. I really don’t have a dog in the American HCR fight. I’ve made my peace with the sinister gods of rationed health care. My only thought on the matter is that the bill passed, from what I’ve seen, manages to somehow combine the worst aspects of private and public healthcare to make a God-awful, shambling, Frankenstein monster of a system.

              So yes. Single payer would be preferable to what you have. So would truly free-market healthcare. So would almost anything that isn’t a horrible tangle of public and private interests locked in an incestuous orgy of pulsing corruption and incompetence.Report