Zingales to Republicans: Go Jeffersonian
By Arnold Kling
Luigi Zingales writes,
The Republican Party has to move from a pro-business strategy that defends the interests of existing companies to a pro- market strategy that fosters open competition and freedom of entry.
…A pro-market party will fight tirelessly against letting firms become so big that they cannot be allowed to fail, since such firms may take risks that ordinary companies would never dream of.
In response, Mark Thoma argues in defense of the Democratic Party as the Jeffersonian populist party. He claims that Zingales’ ideas, including school vouchers, are Democratic Party ideas.
The general idea that some kids are disadvantaged by the education they receive has been a mainstay within the Democratic party for a long time, and quite a few Democrats endorse vouchers as part of the solution (even breaking up teacher’s unions in some cases).
I think that these two quotes illustrate how an economist becomes partisan. Basically, you take an unrealistically optimistic view of the policies and propensities of your favorite party. I mean, Mark Thoma is telling us about pro-voucher Democrats, when the reality is that the Democrats killed the DC school voucher program. There was even a story the other day about Obama’s Attorney General telling a DC Councilman not to run an ad supporting vouchers.
Thoma is fantasazing about a non-corporatist Democratic Party, when today’s Washington Post has a lead editorial on what I personally think is the worst Obamination, the Chu-mobile.
We share the administration’s fervent wish for a cleaner, greener vehicle fleet. All parties to the deal assure us that the site’s proximity to transportation routes and other advantages, not politics, led Fisker to locate there. Just one question: If the Volt isn’t commercially viable, why is Fisker’s car? The company has not even described the vehicle publicly, except to say it’s “family-oriented” and will cost about the same as the Volt.
Meanwhile, Zingales is guilty of believing in fantasy Republicans. I agree that Republicans should favor competitive markets, and that business leaders often oppose them. And I share his preference for breaking up big banks rather than relying on the strategy that I call “too regulated to fail.”
Now would be a great time to revive the Jeffersonian tradition of hostility toward concentrated power in finance in government. It would be a great time to take on what I call Chauffered America.
But, then, I look at the leading Republican candidates for President. Huckabee. Palin. Romney. If there is any resemblance to Thomas Jefferson, I can’t see it.