By Ray LeMoine
The humbling and fragmentation of the Republican Party is so refreshing. As they try to redefine their movement, conservative columnists are having a moment of stunning clarity. Yesterday George Will called out his party for practicing socialism, even though they were accusing Obama of being a “socialist.” Today Bill Kristol writes about the free-market gone wild and—weirdly, scarily—makes a lot of sense:
I don’t pretend to know just what has to be done. But I suspect that free-marketers need to be less doctrinaire and less simple-mindedly utility-maximizing, and that they should depend less on abstract econometric models. I think they’ll have to take much more seriously the task of thinking through what are the right rules of the road for both the private and public sectors. They’ll have to figure out what institutional barriers and what monetary, fiscal and legal guardrails are needed for the accountability, transparency and responsibility that allow free markets to work.
And I don’t see why conservatives ought to defend a system that permits securitizing mortgages (or car loans) in a way that seems to make the lenders almost unaccountable for the risk while spreading it, toxically, everywhere else. I don’t see why a commitment to free markets requires permitting banks or bank-like institutions to leverage their assets at 30 to 1. There’s nothing conservative about letting free markets degenerate into something close to Karl Marx’s vision of an atomizing, irresponsible and self-devouring capitalism.
Neo-liberal free-market principals, as defiend by unending deregulation and globalization, have defined conservatism since Reagan. Admitting policy failure could lead to a major revolution in conservatism.
Kristol’s recommending government regulation of markets, not to mention agreeing with Karl Marx. And Will’s calling the Bush/Paulson bailout socialist. These are definitive left-ward turns. For me, anytime Republicans move left, the world wins.