Economists and politicians seem surprised that Wall Streetâ€™s outrageous behavior continues unabated, which is about as insightful as saying they never saw the meltdown coming. Astronomical compensation, uber-risky investment behavior, and sales of new, more exotic investment instruments is still in vogue in Gordon Geckoland.
Iâ€™m a believer in as little regulation as possible. I donâ€™t necessarily think the government is too inept to regulate things, I just understand that weighing down business - or any other enterprise - with rules for rules sake isnâ€™t a recipe for success. But just as government isnâ€™t too inept to regulate, businesses arenâ€™t always trustworthy enough to regulate themselves. My rule of thumb is to let business regulate themselves, but if they prove incapable, government shouldnâ€™t be hesitant with the legislative pen.
Thereâ€™s no general agreement on how bad last yearâ€™s meltdown was,Â just as thereâ€™s little about how we shouldâ€™ve handled it. Add to that a departing laissez faire administration clearly in the Wall Street pocket with a new administration trying to accept the reigns of power and you have a recipe for disaster.
What there is some agreement on is that the meltdown was a clear and present danger. Since no brakes had been applied for eight years, we entered uncharted economic territory with no time to think, much less react. And as they say, mistakes were made.
Bush may have dug the hole that swallowed the economy and planted the seeds of the bailout, but itâ€™s been on Obamaâ€™s lap for the past year and almost all of his effort has been in stabilizing things â€“ at the expense of reform.
Despite cat-calls to the contrary, Obama isnâ€™t a socialist â€“ heâ€™s not even a liberal. Heâ€™s a centerist whoâ€™s as loathe to change the status quo as he is to abandon bipartisanship in the face of some of the worst vitriol in years. Tiny Tim Geitner may be a smart guy, but heâ€™s having problems adjusting to the fact he isnâ€™t still on Wall Street â€“ and Wall Street is taking full advantage.
If we let Wall Streetâ€™s bad behavior continue, we only encourage more of it. For example, it doesnâ€™t take an Einstein to see taking money from the pockets of working people to fill the overstuffed pockets of execs is bad PR at best, but also stupid. Stupid enough to preclude such numskulls from continuing to keep their jobs. Ditto proclaiming companies too big to fail while allowing - and sometimes encouraging â€“ them to get bigger.
Wall Street continues to fail at regulating themselves. Government continues to be too timid with reforms. A year on we find ourselves continuing temporary, slap-dash policies that need to be reformed themselves. Our hole isnâ€™t necessarily any deeper, but if we continue to lean on the shovel handle and dither, itâ€™s going to fill with water and drown us all.
Many would say Obamaâ€™s plate is full and everythingâ€™s OK at the moment. No worries, heâ€™ll get to it. Unfortunately, the Care Bear-in-Chief continues to heap more on his plate to placate not only liberals, but moderates, conservatives, and assorted loons. A leader has to prioritize the nationâ€™s tasks and sometimes make the painful decision to temporarily push something off the plate or piss someone off to the guaranteed screams of those constituencies.
The time has come to get back to work on this problem because things arenâ€™t so great at the moment and will only get worse the more he dithers.
Dear Messiah, no one can infinitely multi-task. Even you. Itâ€™s time to clean up your plate before this becomes one more meltdown that no one can figure out how to deal with.
Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!