Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Dean = Kucinich Lite

Just as I was starting to warm to the Doc from Vermont, he goes and opens his mouth again. (Dean Calls For New Controls on Business) According to the story, Dean is hankering for a bit of re-regulation. While one can make valid arguments for regulating the media and public utilities, Dean goes one giant leap further and includes companies that offer stock options, which is just about every corporation in America larger than a mom and pop store.

Now, I realize that certain capitalists have, over the past few years, done more damage to capitalism than the Marxists were ever able to do, but surely the last thing the American economy needs is a wholesale infusion of government red tape. Sure we need more transparency in our financial markets and better oversight and enforcement by our watchdogs such as the SEC. These are the steps we need to save capitalism and to ensure consumer and investor confidence in our economy and its machinations. However, large scale government regulation will do nothing more than place obstacles on the path to economic development.

The problem is that people who think like many of Dean's supporters see every sector ripe for government intervention. They see market failure everywhere they look. They are the sort of folks who think it is somehow wrong to earn a profit. They are people who fail to grasp that incentives beyond altruistic warm fuzzies are needed to drive an economy. They look at taxation in a vacuum, driven by what they see as equitable outcomes, without realizing that minus incentives people will not work or invest. These folks simply refuse to accept that excess regulation drives firms out of the market (cf. rent control).

Beyond the sheer stupidity of such a policy position, this fails to make any political sense. Dean has already captured all but a few hardened lefties and is the clear front-runner for the nomination. Now is the time he ought to start tacking back to the center of the political spectrum. The mistake Al Gore made in 2000 was that he swerved Left to head off Bill Bradley in the early primaries and never came back to the center. Dean seems to be perilously close to repeating that same mistake. After all, does the doctor really need the support of the 200 or so people who actually support Kucinich?


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