17 Sep 2010

“It’s Not About Personnel, It’s About Power”

Economics, Shameless Self-Promotion No Comments

[UPDATE below.]

My “current events” article yesterday at Mises.org, on the Elizabeth Warren brouhaha. An excerpt:

By focusing on the “controversial” pick of Warren, the government and its media accomplices subtly shift the fulcrum of the debate. People aren’t questioning whether the government should be seizing vast new powers to regulate the financial markets, even though its last expansion — in the wake of the Enron and other accounting scandals — did nothing to prevent the shady practices of the housing bubble years.

Instead of that substantive and crucial debate, Americans are led to fret about which person will head the new agency. American children learn in civics classes that this country is a land of laws, not men. Yet the financial press disproves that myth daily.

In fact, as the Reuters article demonstrates, the spectrum of debate is actually even narrower. Rather than listing several candidates for the job, and discussing their pros and cons, we are supposed to get worked up over whether Obama will appoint Warren on an interim basis (which can last up to five years!) or whether he will go through the conventional channels and subject her to a confirmation process. Thus the media skillfully distract the public away from the important issues, and entertain them with inconsequential fluff.

Incidentally, I am still in the midst of a two-day Liberty Fund conference in La Jolla. Stamina permitting, later tonight I will have a super geek post clarifying a controversial point that came up during the discussion of Guido Hulsmann’s paper.

UPDATE: In the original version of this post, I included some very generic references to the argument that took place this morning. Although I am sure the participants wouldn’t have objected to my remarks, I took them down because I wouldn’t want people to be hesitant to talk about juicy gossip in front of me. In other words, even though I know I would never post something that someone had mentioned in confidence, other people might not have been sure. Hence, the veil of secrecy is once again raised on our meeting…

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