Conservatives call for re-regulation of "free" market

Posted on July 13, 2008

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On Friday, EJ Dionne of the Washington Post noted something that I’d noticed earlier in the week, namely that conservatives who should be calling for less regulation and freer markets were in fact calling for the exact opposite. He quotes Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke as saying “a more robust framework for the prudential supervision of investment banks and other large securities dealers.”

It floored me when I first read it, and even now it’s worthy of one very special word:

Wow.

If Dionne is right, then the era of free-market everything is waning. And not a day too soon. Free market ideas, as opposed to fair market ideas, led to some meetings between myself and my former insurance company turned investment banker and purveyor of mostly-legal conflicts of interest, State Farm. Deregulation enabled the housing crisis and permitted the fraud that was Enron and the California energy crisis. Cutting capital gains taxes led directly to massive disparities in income growth, but those supposed entrepreneurs at the top didn’t trickle their windfall profits down to job growth at the middle and lower income levels. And, of course, deregulation of media led to massive consolidation, short-term profit-driven cuts in correspondents and editorial staff, and the radically wrong idea that “the public interest is whatever the public is interested in.”

Give Dionne’s piece a read. When a free marketeer from the Hudson Institute calls for new regulations, well, either conservative free market ideology is about to be replaced, or the Ghost Busters containment unit is about to be turned off, Gozer released, and the Stay Puffed marshmallow man turned loose on New York.

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