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How mainstream do you mean? The Economist already makes a habit of noting the emptiness of Obama's rhetoric, and I doubt they'll take much of a holiday from it just because he's been inaugurated.

I think that depends on two things. First, does the stimulus bill pass? Second, how long before the dollar begins to crash. If the stimulus passes, and the dollar starts crashing, then Obama owns it outright. If that happens in less than 100 weeks, then you can take the under.

However, if the stimulus fails, and the dollar still crashes, he'll never own it. Media will continue to blame Bush ad infinitum.

I have a different over-under. In his inaugural, he promised to close down any government programs or offices that "don't work." Anyone want to bet on how many that will be by 2012?

Jeez you guys are such haters.


You've had someone from GMU's Mercatus center as the Regulation Czar for the past few years and that hasn't exactly been a free market paradise. Now there is probably going to be someone with pretty good Law & Econ credentials--Sunstein--as the reg czar and still you're replaying some tired soundtrack from the 1960s about Dems and the state. I'm all about countering the Obama hagiography, but, seriously, can you say something original?

Let me be clear --- Washington Post or NYT, or ABC, NBC, CBS. How long?

Sean --- who from Mercatus was supposedly the head of regulation?

And what exactly about an over/under bet is repeating a sound track from the 1960s?


That is a great question --- how many ineffective government programs will be shut down?

On the positive side, we need to remember the general principle of "only Nixon can go to China" and that Roger Douglas initiated his radical reforms in NZ as a Labor Prime Minister. So perhaps Obama will usher in an era of REAL market oriented policy rather than the pseudo market policies of the Republicans. I am not holding my breadth, but boy would that be a pleasant surprise. The alternative is that current government action will deepen the crisis into a catastrophe. Yes we can, can mean a lot of things.

Now for something completely different: a free subscription to Organizations and Markets for anyone who can tell me (without Googling) where that picture of Obama was taken. Hint: I had my own picture taken there about two weeks ago.


"WASHINGTON -- Cass Sunstein, a Harvard Law School professor who pioneered efforts to design regulation around the ways people behave, will be named the Obama administration's regulatory czar, a transition official said Wednesday.

Susan Dudley, the current administrator, had served at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, a free market-oriented think tank, where she directed the Regulatory Studies Program from 2003 to 2006."

I was actually referring more to Steve's comment, which seems to be a pretty worn out characterization of Democrats--as opposed to politicians in general. How many Gov't programs did Reagan close? Bush I? Bush II? It's a tired sat of assumptions. That Obama outwardly claims that he's going to gut them--just as Clinton claimed "the era of big government is over" may be a shade disingenuous, but, as I posted, he's already issued a regulation freeze so it's not completely out of the question. Clinton is most remembered for NAFTA, WTO, and Welfare reform; Bush for creating the Dept of homeland security. In other words, I think you're probably onto something with your assessment that, at this point, only someone like Obama could deepen the market oriented fundamentalism.

Sean Andrews,

Have you actually read Sunstein? I can only judge someone by what they say or write. From what I've read, it defies reason to assume he is anything less than a statist plain and simple.

His "The Second New Deal: FDR's Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More Than Ever" quite simply argues for a total welfare state through the re-imagining of the Constitution no less.

"Nudge" advocates installing government "choice architects" to think for us, or to help us make more rational choices. Why they wouldn't suffer from the same "knowledge problems" or irrationality he doesn't address.

I could go on but why bother.

8 years

Aside from the gratuitous "haters" crack, I think Sean Andrews is saying something sensible. I always point to Carter vs. Reagan and Clinton vs. Bush. In each case the Dem was better on economic policy. We could also go back to Nixon, who imposed wage and price controls. Anyway, economic policy is chump change compared to a war of aggression, rendition, torture, and domestic spying. Those are today's big issues IMHO for anyone who loves liberty.

The daily show actually had a very good bit on inauguration night that juxtaposed Obama's empty rhetoric next to Bush's.

The link is here: http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=216538&title=Changefest-'09---Obama's-Inaugural-Speech


I just recently argued, on another forum, that Clinton and Carter are underappreciated by pro-market folks. Clinton gave us NAFTA and welfare reform, and Carter gave us trucking and airline dereg (REAL dereg). Carter might be the only president to preside over the actual dismantling of a gov't agency (the CAB). My point was that there is *nothing* in Obama's record to suggest that he is really going to shrink any part of government (save the military - which would, of course, be very good).

I hope that Pete is right and that he is Nixon going to China, I really do. And if he closes Guantanamo and hastens the end of the war, I'll be happy too.

But do I think he (*or any other of the major party candidates in the race*) are really gonna shut down non-performing gov't agencies and programs? Nope.

Roger, how was Carter better than Reagan? I know Carter did some good things, and Reagan some bad, but I don't see how you can add everything they both did up and come to the conclusion that Carter was better.

I agree with liberty on Ronbo vs. the First Peanut Faamah. Ronnie also moved forward on deregulating gas and oil, I think (Rob Bradley would know more), although he also signed tariff legislation to bail out Harley Davidson, which was on the ropes thanks to Japanese competition.
Didn't Chrysler's Bailout, Part I, happen under the PF?
And of course, he wore that obnoxious cardigan sweater in 1977 on TV, while comparing his energy legislation to the "moral equivalent of war."
Didn't the synfuels boondoogle happen under his watch too, and the strategic oil reserve?

At a minimum it looks like a genuine contest between Reagan and Carter. I think Carter wins because he initiated deregulation and did it right and because he appointed Paul Volker. I wish Volker had been more of a rules guy, but he stopped the inflation, which was a huge deal IMHO. Reagan's deficits count against him and his expansion of the military spending strengthened the military-industrial complex, which is bad economic policy IMHO. (I think the context was economic policy, Right? Thus, I'm sticking to that.) I'm always a little vexed by the Laffer curve magic whereby we were going to cut taxes, increase spending and come out ahead. Anyone remember Martin Gardiner's "Laughable Curve"? He nailed it.

Clinton came very close to saying "We are all minimum staters now".
But of course anyone could say that, it just depends what you regard as the desirable minimum.

Rick C-

Yes I've read Sunstein and calling him a "statist" is fair, but this terminology needs to be taken to mean that the defense of property rights requires the state. Outside of this, I'd point to his article "Libertarian Paternalism is not an Oxymoron." Here he basically says that the principles of libertarianism require some management, some framing of choices--whether at the public or private level--and these things, like regulation in general, require a pragmatic discussion rather than an either/or debate.

You can oppose him on principle, but I'd point out that, as opposition goes, he's a pretty easy target. He basically accepts all the premises of Libertarianism as valid--finding his key audience libertarians who need to be convinced that some regulation is necessary to bring about the ideal situation of freedom and liberty they espouse. In other words, he totally ignores any broader critique of a socialist, leftist, or even progressive ideology: his primary audience, the only one he thinks he needs to convince, is one who takes the principles of libertarianism to be common sense. In most of his books, Epstein or Posner have been cited as someone who he looked to for critical guidance, and his place in the Law and Econ Dept and Chicago--you know, the way the name "Olin" appears near just about everything he publishes--should at least make him recognizable in your constellation of stars.

I, personally, am more afraid of him precisely because he accepts all of these premises as inherently valid and believes that the implementation is the only real issue. Hence the "choice architects" are there to make the isolated human monads of rational choice operate according to the theoretical model. It is, after all, difficult to make people "rational maximizers" in every situation: coercion, unfortunately, is often necessary to make people "rational." In this sense, be glad he isn't an actual, post-war liberal coming from the left. You've already got him on common ground: accept that your utopia requires coercion and implementation, in the words of Terry Eagleton, “moulding human subjects to the needs of a new kind of polity, remodeling them from the ground up into the docile, moderate, high-minded, peace-loving, uncontentious, disinterested agents of that political order.”

Sunstein is a statist to be sure, but he is only statist in a way that puts the lie to the "natural law" theory of libertarianism, that basically accepts all the principles, but notes it will take some implementation and it will require some broader legitimation to gain hegemony. That should annoy you as a purist, but delight you as a pragmatist. Be glad he's not someone who actually believes anything the left says, except for some vague American principle about justice and equality. On this, I'd probably say the exact same thing about Obama.


I see your point. I think it is quite possible he'll take the bull by the horns and cut some programs, but he might use the money to create others so I guess that would be a wash. Either way I don't have enough confidence on that to take any bet. So I guess you win...

Peter Klein asked where the picture was from without googling
Metropolis, Illinois

The statue is the only good reason for stopping there.


If you're still visiting this thread, thanks for the thoughtful response. Now, I'm not a purist or utopian or even a full fledged libertatian if you take that to mean leaning toward anarchy. Haven't really thought about it much, but if I had to label myself it would be as a Jeffersonian Constitutionalist/Federalist, at least at this moment.

I noticed you didn't comment on "The Second New Deal". Anyone who would write that book can't have libertarian leanings no matter where he is based or who he cites in his notes section. Taken together with "Nudge" and some of his other writings I can find no comfort in his appointment other than the fact he isn't a card carrying socialist, like Obama's pick for environmental/energy tzar, Ms. Browner.

I've never read Eagleton, but wow, sounds like he's describing cows, except for the high-minded part. And even if one were to agree in general with Eagleton on what needs to be done (and I don't) it would be the job of parents, uncles and aunts, friends and other interested adults to carry it out. Government, under no circumstances should play a role in moulding anybody, unless you want Soma taking, thinking only about sex and food and video games, sheep for citizens. And by the way I think we're getting closer to that model everyday.

That's where I differ from Obama, Sunstein, and all believers in the government-as-savior or even gov.-as-guide schools. Their egos, their pretense to knowledge they can't possibly possess and their hubris blinds them to the fact that government's only tool is force. And you can't build a healthy society using that hammer.

Just a quick note from here in New Zealand.

Roger Douglas was Labour (we spell it right ;) ) FINANCE minster, rather than Prime Minister.

An interesting point, because our other great reformer, Ruth Richardson, was also finance minister rather than Prime Minister.

Both managed to overrule their parties leader for a number of years before both got kicked out.

Roger Douglas, incidentally, has also just been re-elected to parliament with my party, ACT - a classical liberal party.

Also, the laffer curve works, but only if you haven't cut taxes enough! ;)

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