Sunday, January 12, 2014

FDR, Perot, and Hayek

That FDR quote from yesterday reminded me of something.

In Chapter Four of his 1992 book United We Stand, Ross Perot discusses his plan to have "An America that Prospers". Under the heading "Put Government on the Side of Jobs and Growth" he says

Don't worry about our businesses getting too big; worry about our businesses getting too small.

No, I'm with FDR on this one. The growth of private power is a problem.

That sentence from Perot confuses two separate concepts. First is the concern expressed by FDR, captured in yesterday's post: the concern that businesses getting too big is harmful to freedom. Perot dismisses that one.

The second concept is economic decline, which he expresses as businesses "getting too small". But Perot approaches this concept from a microeconomic perspective: He wants to improve the incentives offered to businesses.

Perot just completely misses the "Let's analyze the problem" approach. He wants a policy solution for every damned symptom he sees. That's what we've been doing for 40 years. There is no better way to find your way to the end of civilization.

Oh, and speaking of big business interfering with freedom, here's my favorite line from Friedrich A. Hayek's The Road to Serfdom:

... it is not the source but the limitation of power which prevents it from being arbitrary.

1 comment:

Jazzbumpa said...

Of course, Perot was just playing politics, but I think he had a point. I remember him talking about "That sucking sound" coming from the south as our jobs got pulled away.

So, he was [presumably] concerned about jobs.

You're right, though, there was a depth to the situation that he didn't grasp, and wasn't amenable to quick, glib talking points.

What he, and Hayek [quite ironically] missed is that the real road to serfdom is the rise of trans-national mega-corporations.

In fact, the only entity with enough heft to counterbalance them is a strong central government.

Without it, their power is unlimited.

That is why they want to unravel it.

And that is new feudalism.