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11/01/2005 Archived Entry: "Tweaking the economy to death, "capitalist" style"

EVERYTHING THAT'S WRONG WITH THIS COUNTRY is summarized in today's NPR interview with John C. Bogle.

Bogle has written a book called The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism. I haven't read it yet. I'll get it from the library and report back to you. But in the interview Bogle's thesis was this: Money managers and other middlemen have taken over too large a segment of the economy, and the percentages of our investments that they're diverting to their own pockets and their own industry is sucking our economic life blood.

He might have a point or might not. Too little info in the interview to tell. He did toss out one rather astonishing figure.

But when the NPRette conducting the interview asked (and I paraphrase all of the following), "But you're a Republican. You're a capitalist. Surely you don't think the federal government should regulate the entire financial industry?" (because of course all NPRistas know that all Republicans want to strip the government down to nothing and all capitalists want totally free markets) Bogle responded:

"No, I don't at all think the government should regulate the industry. That's the wrong way to go. I just think Congress should pass a law ensuring that all financial managers are true trustees of our investments, and not individual entrepreneurs."


The problems with such a plan are so -- pardon the expression, mindBogling -- that I first supposed Mr. B. must be some ivory-tower professorial sort, with no notion of such concepts as "unintended consequences" let alone "free markets." But turns out he's the founder of the famous Vanguard funds.

Isn't this just the way of life? "Oh, we don't want a centrally controled economy. Oh no. That would be bad. We just want this one little tweak that'll fix everything. And after that the state will simply wither away ..." Oh, wait, that "state will wither away" business was from those other guys -- the ones who hated capitalism and wanted to destroy it. Good old all-American Republican capitalists merely want to tweak the economy -- and our freedom -- to death -- but somehow "without federal regulation!"

Posted by Claire @ 12:15 PM CST

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