My friend Eric Singer, manager of the Congressional Effect Fund, has urged me to devote some critical attention to the Yahoo! News site, which is where a lot of young people get their news, and which attracts nearly twice the Web traffic of NYTimes.com. This morning's gem is an opinion piece by a self-described conservative, Paul McDonnold, who describes Karl Marx's warning about the inevitable fall of capitalism as "prescient." Here is the conclusion:
Capitalism itself is not fatally flawed. But a hyperconservative approach to it is. Regulations that promote decentralized competition on a human scale are regulations that conserve Smith's side of capitalism. These regulations should not be the enemy of conservatives; they should be our aim.
Many conservatives will want to stick to the dogmatic ideological line of deregulation. But the capitalism produced by blind support of deregulation is one of bureaucratic corporations, greed-fueled booms, and fear-riddled busts. If conservatives do not embrace regulations that preserve Smith's capitalism, we might just wake up one day to see it gone and socialism in its place, just as Marx predicted.
The claim that conservatives oppose all regulation is a straw man. And as we've pointed out before, there's a case to be made that the current bust is the result not of deregulation but of clumsy, heavy-handed, and unpredictable actions by regulators, such as the seizure of Fannie Mae. As we've pointed out before, as well, there may be things that regulators can do to soften the boom-bust cycle, but the idea that a regulator can eliminate bureaucracy from corporations, eliminate the emotions of greed and fear, or prevent booms or busts requires more faith in the abilities of regulators than is warranted by history or experience.