Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Well they're no Jed Bartlett, that's for sure


Yes, yes, the sky is falling, but there's still an election going on. So dagnabbit, let's do this.

With both candidates trying to convince America that they hold the answers to all our financial woes, it's worth noting that neither man has much more economic experience than you or I. Both guys have their strengths, to be sure. It's just the economy isn't one of them. From the Times
"One reason for both men’s sketchy records on financial issues is that neither has been a member of the Senate Banking Committee, which has oversight of the industry and its regulators. Under both parties’ leadership, the committee often has been a graveyard for proposals opposed by lobbyists for financial institutions, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which last week were forced into government conservatorships.

Industry lobbyists’ success in killing such regulations meant senators outside the banking panel did not have to take a stand on them."
This shouldn't surprise us. It's typical Washington-think: "If it's not up for a vote, why should I care?" McCain seems to be toeing the party line as closely as possible, allowing for greater regulation during times of crises, to be replaced by deregulation as soon as the market rights itself (with nary a thank you to Uncle Sam).

What's wrong with this thinking is that it's essentially reactive. By default, it does nothing to prevent something like this from happening again. Greater regulation in response to the subprime mortgage fiasco is fine and dandy, but we really could have used it six years ago when lenders were handing out shady home loans like candy. McCain, in deference to his esteemed free market colleagues, doesn't seem to get this.

And while Obama has little more economic experience than McCain, at least he sees the inherent value in (continued) government oversight over profit-hungry financial institutions. In that sense, Obama is the truer Conservative on the matter. Conservative because he recognises the depravity of humans to put their personal interests over the interests of others. Conservative because he's not afraid to use established power to keep unchecked greed in check.

{/End quasi-Sorkin clap-trap}