Jots with Dots 9/8

Chait: Big big government vs. big small government. I’d like to say, Chait’s piece strikes (me) in some ways as an effort to identify conservative hypocrisy, perhaps where there is no hypocrisy in reality. Which would make it typical Chait, at least in terms of the effort. But it’s a thoughtful piece full of truths nonetheless. I don’t have a singular, comprehensive observation on the piece. Here are some smaller observations:

· Chait does not hold as much antipathy for Rand as he holds for other Republicans. I’m glad – I think this speaks to a truth that Rand is discernibly different and superior to other Republicans.

· I don’t think small government conservatives ignore state and local government so much as Chait would describe. There is always the matter of which fish are big enough to fry, and the feds are always going to be overrepresented there.

· Occupational licensing: MattY has been an articulate voice on this in recent years. Which I find odd, because he is both young and I think really not that wise yet. And he went to Harvard, where it’s not obvious this insightful kernel of wisdom could have germinated in his brain. Nonetheless, he has been articulate on this.

· We had a sunset advisory commission here in MN that I think might have gone some lengths to identify and decommission some absurd boards, including licensing boards. It’s my understanding that the Democrat legislature de-chartered / de-funded the sunset commission. To be fair, that is probably not what Gov. Dayton would have done, had he any say in the matter

· In recent weeks I’ve broached this here in this zingy space: metro legal apparati are malevolent and abusive in pinning petty misdemeanors to young urbanites. As Chait notes, this is a revenue source. And, it’s fair to describe this as one of the larger and more corrosive vestiges that remain of institutional racism in this country. Know what? Republicans have no power to fix this, as they don’t operate this mechanism. Democrats do. So fix it, Democrats.

· Density / housing. MattY has been an articulate voice here as well. Planning deregulation is in order to allow for cheaper housing in urban areas. Ya know, I drive on the freeway through downtown Minneapolis, and I see all these interesting buildings going up… are they apartments? I wonder if Minneapolis has not already been wise here.

· What happened to suburban sprawl?

· Chait gives nice mention to Megan McArdle. You can not be as smart as Chait and not recognize the wisdom of McArdle, who often writes about the same things.


One thought on “Jots with Dots 9/8

  1. pm1956

    I thought it was a good piece–yes, Chait makes a bit much of the GOP inconsistency on large vs. small government, but I think that he is right that local government is worse, overall, than national government. Big city government tends to be better than small city government. There are plenty of exceptions–Minnesota tends to be better than New Jersey as a general rule, so I’d rate local government in MN better than state level government in NJ as well as IL.

    I do think that this is a general blind spot for most Republicans, who tend to demonize all governments, and there is indeed a tendency to say that governments that are “close to the people” are better. That is definitely not true. The reason why is that the problem stems from people–from you and me. Government that is too close to the people tends to reflect the petty jealousies of those people (as well as the inherent biases such as racism, etc.).

    This is not new stuff. One of my favorite economists Mancur Olson ( wrote at length about this, in a great and easily readable book, “the rise and decline of nations”. He was one of founders of the “Public choice” school of economists, and Megan McArdle clearly has been influenced by them.

    I found his writing to be particularly apt because, as a lobbyist, I saw that it was true. He wrote about how interests/people will band together to use the legal and regulatory system for their own advancement, usually at the expense of the greater public. (this is exactly what Chait is pointing towards). Further, Olson notes that the “capture” of public policy by special interests is harder that larger the public policy creating body is. It is possible in very large institutions for the special interests to balance each other off–but then they will frequently come to an agreement with each other where they each get something at the expense of the public.


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