Saturday, June 11, 2011

Business and state

Here is James Surowiecki's take of Elizabeth Warren's charge as head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  But here is Viginia Postrel's account of how policy makers from the same gene pool actually made the rules governing which light bulbs ought to be produced and consumed in the U.S.

Postrel sees waste and crony capitalism verging on corruption.  Surowiecki trusts that Warren and her Bureau will work to the advantage of consumers as well as honest bankers. 

Having just been through a period when it was Washington policy to push debt at people, and having seen where this led, I cannot muster optimism about a new Bureau's ability to stand up to the inevitable Wall Street-Washington double-teaming that will occur. That's the coalition that has brought us to where we are and I do not see it receding.

One would think that Progressive Era thinking was plausible just over 100 years ago, but that we are somewhat less naive these days.  We do a pretty good job separating church and state.  I doubt that we will ever separate business and state.  I understand that Washington hosts ever more lobbyists, no matter which party happens to be in control.