The Failure of the Journalists, Part II
| Peter Klein |
Another aspect of journalists’ remarkably credulous and fatuous attitude towards policymakers is their view that rhetoric, not substance, is what matters. Hence the constant references to the Bush Administration’s “dedication to free-market principles,” its “aversion to regulation,” its “belief in letting markets work by themselves.” This is of course sheer balderdash and piffle, virtually the reverse of the truth. Bush and Paulson and Greenspan and their clique are “free marketeers” in the same way (to borrow from A. J. Jacobs) that Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant. They adopt the language, and some of the form, of market advocacy without any of the content. The Bush Administration was already, before the “financial crisis,” the most economically interventionist since LBJ; it now ranks with Hoover and FDR as the most aggressively anti-market in US history. Greenspan and Bernanke expanded the money supply like none before; Bush and Cheney borrowed and spent trillions to finance overseas adventures; the Federal Register added pages at a record-setting pace; now the banking and automobile industries have become GSEs. Lassiez-faire, indeed! (BTW can anyone name a specific act of “deregulation” that contributed to the financial crisis? Gramm-Leach-Bliley? No way. And GLB was under Clinton, as was the infamous WGFM. What specific regulations, e.g. on hedge funds or mortgage-backed securities or executive compensation, did the Bush Administration oppose?)
And yet, there was Juan Williams on yesterday’s Diane Rehm show explaining, matter-of-factly, how Bush and Paulson had allowed their “free-market ideology” and “resistance to regulation” to “commitment to the idea that the market works itself” to lead the nation into ruin. Williams may be a good news reporter, but he has the political-economy understanding of a fifth-grader. Does it ever occur to these “watchdogs” to investigate what government officials actually do, rather than simply repeat what they say?