The current media take on the large "economic stimulus" package now being advanced by Mr. Obama is that it is an "attempt to save capitalism".
It is quite the opposite. It is rather a last ditch attempt to save the concept of central government planning in America. It is beyond reasonable dispute that the American economy has been centrally planned since at least the early 1970s, and the intensity of the planning effort has increased every single day, and continues to increase. Without going into the details of the myriad government interventions, regulations, and plans, suffice it to say that the vast majority of capital allocation decisions in our economy have been either directly made or fundamentally influenced by government programs, policies, or regulations. Every decision, down to a decision as small as to whether or not to buy an apple, is heavily influenced or directly controlled by government (in the case of apple, an apple is normally not subject to sales tax, so government encourages it, and a host of international trade regulations that regulate type and price of apples further limit consumer choices among foods and relative prices).
When Mr. Obama was elected, I was pleased, but was having trouble articulating why. I decided to write this post because my feeling have crystallized a bit.
The next president is going to be the standard bearer of the pro-government forces last stand, their last chance to demonstrate that a society characterized by government planning and intervention is sustainable.
Both Republican and Democratic Parties (along with all minor parties other than the Libertarians) are devout planners and regulators. It is an unfortunate fact that Americans, thanks to inexcusably incompetent media organizations and the government educational establishment, have been taught that the Republicans are a "small government" party, that they represent a non-central-planning philosophy. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
So either party, if given power, would do the same thing: Take all steps possible in an attempt to "save government."
Put simply, I'm happy that Obama will soon be president because I want the best, most honest, most well-intentioned, most popular, most "progressive" central planner in charge of the last ditch attempt to save government.
I (unlike many of my progressive buddies) am not thoroughly convinced in my convictions. I know that the evidence is strong and growing that a society planned by the government is not sustainable. But now we are going to find out whether central planning can work or not. If Obama cannot make it work, who can?
I would be willing to bet that Obama, despite his intelligence, integrity, and good intentions, will utterly fail. But we don't need to speculate. We're now, finally, going to see.