Saturday, March 14, 2009

If only you were there too, Tom

Yglesias gets it exactly right in a comment on Tom Friedman's latest bit of brilliance. First, Tom:
There is a huge amount of money on the sidelines eager to bet again on America. But right now, there is too much uncertainty; no one knows what will be the new rules governing investments in our biggest financial institutions. If President Obama can produce and sell that plan, private investors, big and small, will give us a stimulus like you’ve never seen.

Which is why I wake up every morning hoping to read this story: “President Obama announced today that he had invited the country’s 20 leading bankers, 20 leading industrialists, 20 top market economists and the Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate to join him and his team at Camp David. ‘We will not come down from the mountain until we have forged a common, transparent strategy for getting us out of this banking crisis,’ the president said, as he boarded his helicopter.”
Beyond the bipartisanship, in the real world this would be in practice a recipe for rule-by-CEO. A key constraint on the decision-making would need to be that it served the personal financial interests of the 20 “leading bankers” and “leading industrialists” (whatever that might mean) and there’s no reason to think that would serve the public interest. It would be interesting to speculate about what would happen if you held a meeting with all those people and gave them some kind of truth serum that made them speak honestly and bargain in good faith, but that’s not going to happen. Instead, the way the system works is that Obama and has team will need to craft a response and will need to take responsibility for its success or failure.
Of course, this is the usual Friedman recipe for every problem, journalistic or otherwise. Find the nearest rich person, assume that they will act for the common interest instead of their own, and let them run with the ball. If you read Friedman at all closely, you'll see that his interactions are invariably with sheiks and CEOs and princes and international consultants. His few mentions of "regular people" come from other people's reporting.

No comments:

Clicky Web Analytics