Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Return

So Slate.com is giving the disgraced former Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, a platform. I don’t have a problem with that. Just because someone has solicited a call girl does not mean that he or she has nothing still to offer. I say this in earnest; I am not being facetious.
And besides, I happen to agree with Spitzer’s opinion that bailouts of the “Big Three” automakers comprise bad policy. “(W)e are creating the significant systemic risk not just of rewarding imprudent behavior by private actors but of preventing, through bailouts and subsidies, the process of creative destruction that capitalism depends on.”
His prescription is a bit naive, however.
Spitzer says that the result of concentration of wealth is large companies involved in manufacturing and finance that, when they fail, take everyone else down.
But we knew that. The money that we are using on bailouts should instead be invested in creating a small-is-beautiful situation that would include big-time investments in research and education, “to restructure our bloated health care sector… to build the type of physical infrastructure we need to be competitive,” Spitzer says.
He wants to see us “return to an era of vibrant competition among multiple, smaller entities—none so essential to the entire structure that it is indispensable.”
Although I’m all for this, I see trouble down the road. The creation of this vibrancy is going to require regulation against companies becoming too big, and the Republicans are not going to go along with that. Waiting in the wings, eventually if not now, will be the next charismatic arch-conservative who will stage his or her own Reagan-style “revolution,” and vibrancy will be swept away. Greed is too profound a component of human nature to be mitigated for long.
Eras, after all, are temporary.
Of course there is the education that Spitzer would have us invest in. Education might stave off significantly the ignorance that embraces the powerful and blustering know-nothing and self-serving political ideologies. A significantly educated electorate just might stave off the return of the slinging of political crap.
That is, if the electorate is being taught history as well as in technology. The question: But history from which books? remains, and I don’t want to be the one who dictates what the masses shall learn.
Nevertheless things do change. We did elect an interracial man president.