Thursday, September 02, 2010

Makes me cringe

In this morning's WSJ, columnist David Wessel wonders ("Parsing Ascendant GOP's Economic Prescriptions") what Republicans might actually do if/when they score victories this November. At the Heartland Institute,
Joseph Bast has a 10-item to-do list for economic recovery ("Attracting Businesses During the Great Recession").

Both discussions mention lower tax proposals. Wessel thinks that what Republicans have articulated so far is either too vague or too unlikely to be broadly popular. Bast (who is apparently not running for office) is not at all vague and does not address the question of politics and broad support. He likes lower taxes, less corporate welfare, less powerful labor unions, lower minimum wages, reduced worker compensation costs, affordable housing (but via not the Chris Dodd approach), fewer regulations, less lawsuit abuse and also "attract members of the creative class."

The latter is from the Richard Florida playbook and now makes an appearance on a libertarian's wish list. But if one is going to be skeptical of industrial policy-crony capitalism, how can one take seriously the idea that governments anywhere can pick winners when it comes to people? There are the same old realities: (i) how would they/could they know? and (ii) how could they/would they keep the whole project from being politicized?

I have spent many years involved with university admissions. It is no secret that this is a highly imperfect process. If there ever was a "fatal conceit", it is surely the idea that politicians can do an adequate job of singling out potentially creative people.

And the appellation "creative class" makes me cringe.