- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 31, 2009

ABOUT CAPITALISM

”Some of the demonstrators in this week’s G-20 protest jamboree are demanding the ‘overthrow’ of capitalism. Well, there are lots of things than can be done to ‘capitalism’ - it can be undermined, suppressed, sabotaged, even outlawed - but it cannot be ‘overthrown’ because in itself, it has no power,” Janet Daley writes in the London Telegraph.

”It is the very opposite, in fact, of a tyranny. It is simply the conglomeration of all the transactions made between individual and corporate players in an open market. Some people may gain power through those transactions but that power is transient and contingent on their own financial success: They are not installed in immutable positions from which they can be forcibly removed in a coup d’etat,” the writer said.

“The question we are wrestling with now - and which the G-20 will certainly fail to resolve - is how much the bodies which actually do have power should undermine, suppress, sabotage or even outlaw the practice of capitalist exchange.

“Those who talk of ‘overthrowing’ capitalism are determined to depict it as a system of government in a precise parallel with socialism, when in reality, capitalism is not a system in the ideological sense.



“It is, if anything, an anti-system: the aggregation of human behavior as it goes about fulfilling particular wants and needs. It can be described in anthropomorphic terms, such as ‘ruthless’ or ‘benign’ but of itself has no motives and no objectives. (Gordon Brown is more than usually fatuous when he insists that markets need to have ‘values’: only people have values, methods of exchange do not.)

”It is in the interests of the Left to talk as if capitalism and socialism were precisely analogous because then they can be seen as competitors and in bad times, the command economy as opposed to the market-based one can win the popularity contest. But this fallacious argument into which, I am sorry to say, a great many well-intentioned people are allowing themselves to be drawn is very dangerous: capitalism isn’t really an ‘ism,’ which is why the term ‘free-market economics’ is so much more apt.”

CARBON WAR

”One of President Obama’s applause lines is that his climate tax policies will create new green jobs ‘that can’t be outsourced.’ But if that’s true, why is his main energy adviser floating a new carbon tariff on imports? Welcome to the coming cap and trade war,” the Wall Street Journal said Monday in an editorial.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu made the protectionist point during an underreported House hearing this month, when he said tariffs and other trade barriers could be used as a ‘weapon’ to force countries like China and India into cutting their own CO2 emissions. ‘If other countries don’t impose a cost on carbon, then we will be at a disadvantage,’ he said. So a cap-and-trade policy won’t be cost-free after all. Apparently Mr. Chu did not get the White House memo about obfuscating the impact of the administration’s anticarbon policies,” the newspaper said.

“The Chinese certainly heard Mr. Chu, with Xie Zhenhua, a top economic minister, immediately responding that such a policy would be a ‘disaster’ and ‘an excuse to impose trade restrictions.’ Beijing’s reaction shows that as a means of coercing international cooperation, climate tariffs are worse than pointless. China and India are never going to endanger their own economic growth - and the chance to lift hundreds of millions out of poverty - merely to placate the climate neuroses of affluent Americans in Silicon Valley or Cambridge, Mass. And they certainly won’t do it under the threat of a tariff ultimatum.”

CONTOURS OF FAILURE

”The last Democrat who held the White House, Bill Clinton, saw the core of his domestic agenda come to ruin, his political support collapse, and his failure spawn a massive Republican resurgence that made progressive reform impossible for a decade to come. The Democrat who last held the White House before that, Jimmy Carter, saw the exact same thing happen to him,” the New Republic’s Jonathan Chait writes.

”At this early date, nobody can know whether or not Barack Obama will escape this fate. But the contours of failure are now clearly visible. In Obama’s case, as with his predecessors, the prospective culprit is the same: Democrats in Congress, and especially the Senate,” Mr. Chait said.

“At a time when the country desperately needs a coherent response to the array of challenges it faces, the congressional arm of the Democratic Party remains mired in fecklessness, parochialism, and privilege.”

BLAMING ISRAEL

”With Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu set to be sworn in as Israel’s prime minister [Tuesday], Western capitals are in a dither about the irrelevant question of Israel’s commitment to the vaunted ‘two-state solution.’ ” Benny Avni writes in the New York Post.

”The ‘solution’ - based on President George W. Bush’s vision of a democratic Palestine living peacefully next door to Israel - has no relevance to the world as it is now: Palestine is further from developing a viable democracy than it was when W set forth the idea. Questions of Bibi’s commitment to the idea are just a new club for those in Washington who think that distancing America from Israel will somehow solve U.S. problems with the larger Muslim world. …

”Nonetheless, European Union leaders last week announced that Israel’s hopes of an upgrade in economic and diplomatic ties with the EU are all but doomed unless the new Jerusalem government declares support for the two-state solution. In his own press conference last Tuesday, President Obama similarly said that advancing the solution is ‘critical for us’ but that he doesn’t expect the Netanyahu government to make Middle East peacemaking ‘easier than it was.’ ”

JOB POSTING

”Well, at least now we know who’s running General Motors,” the Detroit News said Monday in an editorial.

”The Obama White House, in an extraordinary expansion of the government’s reach, Sunday demanded and got the head of Rick Wagoner, the automaker’s embattled chief executive. In doing so, the president brushed aside GM’s board of directors, selected by shareholders and entrusted with the power to hire and fire executives, and assumed that role for himself.”

The newspaper added: “How many top-notch corporate executives will jump at the chance to lead a company that is sinking like a rock? Who will be willing to share the corporate suite with federal bureaucrats? And by the way, the job pays a buck a year, and if you need to fly, it better be coach.

”Running a tobacco company has to have more appeal.”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or email [email protected]

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