Friday, August 01, 2008

Vote or Die

Via Reason comes this washington Post story on the curious mind of John McCain. The frightening part for libertarians:

McCain has acknowledged that modern conservatives have been more hostile to government than he. "Many contemporary conservatives have let their healthy skepticism about government sink into something unhealthy, an embittered loathing of the federal government," McCain and Salter wrote in "Worth the Fighting For." A good government "must not shrink from its duty to be the highest expression of the national will and the last bulwark against all assaults on our founding ideals," which include liberty and opportunity.

In last week's interview, McCain recalled and embraced another TR quotation: "Unfettered capitalism leads to corruption. We are seeing that with the subprime lending crisis."


What's frightening is that there's been no seeming limit to what John McCain has seen to be the federal government's duty. Conservatives, libertarians, and proponents of small government have every right to be upset about a bloated and inefficient federal government that has seeped it's way into more and more aspects of our everyday lives. John McCain is such a troubling figure to me because not only can he not be bothered to pay lip service to those very real concerns, he goes out of his way to criticize those of us who have them. Throw in the ridiculous notion that the market (and not government) is what's to blame for the subprime mortgage crisis and ... well ... it's not just that it's hard to support the guy, but it's hard to think the country will be better off with him in the White House.

I've got a bit of Barack news to get to later (if I have time before the weekend), but to keep it brief for now, I'm beginning to wonder whether McCain is really the more frightening prospect of the two major party candidates in terms of domestic policy. Obama's rhetoric is grandiose, but at the same time is not loaded with notions of duty in the manner of McCain. From what my ears have heard, I hear more about the positives of government from McCain than I do Obama. Maybe when Obama tells us, "Yes we can," he's talking about government, but maybe that ambiguity is what gives libertarians some hope- At least we can hope and wish Obama will take government in a different direction. McCain offers nothing new to our ears, except perhaps that the government has a duty and a responsibility to do all sorts of things it has no business doing.

As always, this is not an endorsement either way, only thoughts on the rhetoric you hear from candidates. It's just interesting that thus far, McCain has done more to go out of his way to alienate small government types than has Obama.

4 Comments:

Anonymous rose said...

"Throw in the ridiculous notion that the market (and not government) is what's to blame for the subprime mortgage crisis"

Gotta disagree with you here. The crisis was caused by lenders and speculators who assumed it was impossible for real estate prices to ever drop. With that assumption in place they decided it made sense to make riskier and riskier loans to people who couldn't afford them, loans with minimal down payments and thus a tighter spread between loan amounts and the value of the underlying collateral.

If you want to argue Greenspan worsened it with cheap money policy, ok. Certainly the government didn't help, but really this was largely a market failure caused by irresponible business practices. You're going to have a tough time putting together an argument that this credit crisis was purely the government's fault.

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Rose said, "The crisis was caused by lenders and speculators who assumed it was impossible for real estate prices to ever drop. With that assumption in place they decided it made sense to make riskier and riskier loans to people who couldn't afford them, loans with minimal down payments and thus a tighter spread between loan amounts and the value of the underlying collateral."

The pesky detail you're missing is that it was the government, in the first place, who put pressure on these lenders to loan money to people who couldn't afford them, or else be deemed racists or whatever else. They were heavy-handedly forced into making loans that make little business sense, and are now being blamed for following orders.

3:39 PM  
Blogger lonely libertarian said...

I'm certainly guilty of a bit of hyperbole here, which is a shame, given that I blogged on this very topic last week. I should have been more clear, but I was trying to make a brief point. Truth is, when it comes to the housing crisis you've got a myriad of financial regulations, the undeniable overall federal policy to increase home ownership, and lenders and speculators who overextended themselves and signed off on too many risky mortgages. You can't take any of those factors in a vacuum as they all play off one one another to give us the situation we have today.

Regardless of the complexities of that particular issue, I was really only attempting to illustrate McCain's willingness to play the blame the market game.

4:10 PM  
Anonymous rose said...

Mike, I believe you're referring to the community reinvestment act. It's a good point. But most people who know 1,000 times more than I about the topic don't believe that it had that much effect. Speculators and investors purchased 25% of the new property sold during the housing boom and it was mostly high value property.

I'm researching a bank in Carolina right now for work. Speculation was very modest in the region for whatever reason and there was no boom there and consequentially there's been no bust either. Home prices in Charlotte are equal to the nation's housing peak in 4Q05.

So I won't pretend to know what the exact effects of the community reinvestment act are, but it certainly didn't help and does seem like absolutely awful policy. Is awful policy I should say.

11:24 AM  

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