Saturday, March 08, 2008

McGovern Seems To Get It Now

I was a bit too young in 1972 to understand what all the hoopla was about George McGovern, and in the intervening 30+ years I haven't cared enough to learn. About the only thing I know about him is that he ran for President on a strong anti-war plank, and he got spanked by that same plank.

So it was with no small amount of interest that I read this Wall Street Journal piece, especially because of the conservative-sounding title.

Under the guise of protecting us from ourselves, the right and the left are becoming ever more aggressive in regulating behavior. Much paternalist scrutiny has recently centered on personal economics, including calls to regulate subprime mortgages...

There's no question, however, that delinquency and default rates are far too high. But some of this is due to bad investment decisions by real-estate speculators. These losses are not unlike the risks taken every day in the stock market.

The real question for policy makers is how to protect those worthy borrowers who are struggling, without throwing out a system that works fine for the majority of its users (all of whom have freely chosen to use it). If the tub is more baby than bathwater, we should think twice about dumping everything out.

Health-care paternalism creates another problem that's rarely mentioned: Many people can't afford the gold-plated health plans that are the only options available in their states...

Economic paternalism takes its newest form with the campaign against short-term small loans, commonly known as "payday lending..."

Anguished at the fact that payday lending isn't perfect, some people would outlaw the service entirely, or cap fees at such low levels that no lender will provide the service. Anyone who's familiar with the law of unintended consequences should be able to guess what happens next...

Since leaving office I've written about public policy from a new perspective: outside looking in. I've come to realize that protecting freedom of choice in our everyday lives is essential to maintaining a healthy civil society. (emphasis mine--Darren)

Why do we think we are helping adult consumers by taking away their options? We don't take away cars because we don't like some people speeding. We allow state lotteries despite knowing some people are betting their grocery money. Everyone is exposed to economic risks of some kind. But we don't operate mindlessly in trying to smooth out every theoretical wrinkle in life.

The nature of freedom of choice is that some people will misuse their responsibility and hurt themselves in the process. We should do our best to educate them, but without diminishing choice for everyone else. (again, boldface is mine)


This doesn't sound like any Democrat today. I agree wholeheartedly with these words.

15 comments:

Ellen K said...

Most of the old school Democrats wouldn't fit into the current excuse of a Democrat party. The party has been hijacked by the Green Party platform and the only time they trot out any sympathy for the blue collar or middle class is when they are running for office. In the meantime, I just heard that gas may rise to $4.00 per gallon this spring. I wonder if some of the dogooders in the environmental wing of the party understand how they have created this situation. It's on my blog.
http://sumofallthingsaccording2me.blogspot.com/2008/03/now-can-we-drill.html

Darren said...

Gore specifically hoped for high gas prices in his book, on the logic that that would make the people (but not him) drive less--thereby saving the planet.

Ellen K said...

Here's a prediction: Higher gas prices will lead to more crime via armed robbery. No sense in going to work if you can't make enough money to pay for gas. Likewise we will see a rise in deaths of the elderly, the poor and the infirm. We will also see more people defaulting on charge card payments to fund gas. Like it or not, Gore and his buddies are at some point going to have to realize that they are a major part of the problem. Failure to use domestic resources wisely and well have always led to social upheaval. And the first to go will be the rich. Bye-bye Leo, Bye-bye Al.

Neko said...

I'm sorry, but do you honestly think that Gore or any of his ilk will ever question, for even the tiniest of nanoseconds, that they are not completely and totally right. The thought that they could be in the slightest bit in the wrong is completely incomprehensible to them. Clearly they are right and they know what is best for the rest of us. Any unitended consequences are clearly the result of everyone else not doing what they are told or not believing strongly enough.

Ellen K said...

I believe the Ancient Greeks called that hubris.

Mrs. C said...

I don't want my tax money used to bail out lenders or borrowers. I also don't want the house that was foreclosed on next door to remain vacant much longer. It's already been six months, and the owners didn't do their grass for the last three they were in the house. Nine months... no yardwork... You just guess what it looks like.

That is the *ONLY* reason I thank God for the snow. The ONLY reason.

I don't think the government is the answer, but I'm not sure we know what the question is when realtors, lenders and appraisers profit from overpricing tons of homes in a neighbourhood. They lent out waaaaayy more than that house next door to me was worth even at the height of the market.

To a couple that promptly got TWO NEW VEHICLES within four weeks of closing on the house. Bet that was house money in those cars, and they got to keep the cars and move out while the house rots.

It makes me mad. I sure don't want a meth dealer or someone like that taking up residence there. It decreases MY house value, not to mention being unsafe. And *I* get no choice about everyone else acting like a doofus in the market.

It just stinks. But thanks for listening. ;]

OK, seriously, how to balance that free-choice *and* educating the consumer scale? What's your idea?

Fritz J. said...

I agree with Ellen K that most of what were Democrats thirty years ago would not be welcome in the current Democrat party. I would also observe that had McGovern sounded back then as he sounds today, he would have received more votes. I say that as one who voted mostly Democrat when younger, but have found myself voting more Republican as time as gone on and the Democrat Party has drifted to where they no longer represent my views. It appears to me that the parties have switched places in many of their positions which leaves me no alternative other than to vote differently than I did when young.

DADvocate said...

1972 was the first presidential election in which I voted. I voted for McGovern. As has been noted above, McGovern hasn't change much, if at all in his views. The Democratic party did.

George Bush is more liberal than most Democrats 35 years ago.

allen (from Michigan) said...

Here's the money quote:

"Since leaving office I've written about public policy from a new perspective: outside looking in."

This absolutely doesn't sound like the McGovern of old who would've been perfectly comfortable in the company of the leftiest of the current left. But not saying/writing stuff like this. I guess he must've followed Churchill's dictum and grown a brain. Or maybe his hubris organ, whatever that might be, has atrophied since he's no longer feeding at the public trough.

Anonymous said...

Same is true of your side too.

The RNC of today is not that of before.

As long as your side has the religious right, there can be no peace.

Darren said...

As long as your side hates America....

Anonymous said...

Your version of America? Yes.

I imagine you don't like my version of America either.


Must we behave like a divorced couple fighting over how much we love our kids?

Darren said...

If you don't like broken windows, don't throw stones.

neko said...

I was thinking about this the other day. I'm glad someone broought it up. What changes would this country have to go through for the Left to actually love the US?

neko said...

And anonymous, if we are fighting over the "kids," it is only because we actually want them to grow up to be strong and capable of standing on their own two feet. We don't think that kids should be molly-coddled so much that they expect mommy and daddy to do everything for them. If raised that way, eventually they become incappable of doing anything for themselves.