Saturday, September 17, 2011

Quick on the Trigger

I think that Matthew Yglesias is too quick to take umbrage at a perceived slight against the masses and jumps back into the realm of "the Public is always to be above Criticism," perhaps because of Brooks' use of the word "sins" which connotes intentional wrongdoing.

Perhaps a better wording of Brooks' closing could be thus: "Over the past decades, Americans have developed an absurd view of the power of government. Many voters seem to think that government has the power to protect them from the consequences of their inattention to politics, ignorance of the issues, wishful-thinking-driven decision-making and just plain bad luck. Then they get angry and cynical when it turns out that it can’t."

And I think that Brooks has a point here. If you buy a home because prices are going up, up, up, and you don't want to miss the gravy train and your sister-in-law some said that guy who knows a guy who's related to this woman who slept with her cousin told her that "real estate never loses value," you're taking a risk, especially if you don't set out to understand what's actually going on. As far back as 2007, it was clear that home prices were rising so fast, relative to wages that it couldn't go on forever, or even much longer. (I'm not going to claim I saw a crash coming, however. I figured it would simply plateau.)

The job of government isn't to make everything turn out okay, regardless of our own actions (I suspect I'm starting to sound like Ron Paul here). It can't be, because if we consistently covered each other all the time, we'd all go broke. I understand why Mr. Yglesias is upset, but I think his focus on the word "sins" is a bit too strong.

No comments: