Master of the Senate, the third volume of Robert Caro’s biography of Lyndon Johnson, opens with a lengthy history of the world’s greatest deliberative body from America’s founding up to Johnson’s time. On page 44, describing the end of a lengthy period of Senatorial stagnation in the early 20th century, Caro writes about how leadership deliberated:
The “Senate Four” or the “Big Four,” as they were known, still met in summer at Aldrich’s great castle in Narragansett, near Newport – four aging men in stiff high white collars and dark suits (Aldrich, being at home, might occasionally unbend to wear a blazer) even on the hottest days, sitting on a colonnaded porch in rockers and wicker chairs deciding Republican policy – a policy that was still based on an unshaken belief in laissez-faire and the protective tariff.
Caro is a masterful biographer and a fine writer, but he is sometimes a little confused on economics. Protective tariffs are government interventions in the market, and therefore the precise opposite of laissez-faire. Then, as now, Republican leaders were much more pro-business than pro-market. This is an important distinction to make. Failing to make it can lead to egregious — and avoidable — errors.
Have a listen here.
Brian McGraw, a Policy Analyst for CEI’s Center for Energy & Environment, talks about the coming incandescent light bulb ban, who it benefits (bulb manufacturers), and who it hurts (consumers who no longer have a choice). Brian also touches on the important distinction between pro-business and pro-market thought. Pro-business thinkers would tend to support an incandescent ban, given what it could do for bulb manufacturer’s bottom lines. Pro-market thinkers prefer an open, competitive market process where consumers decide which type of bulb is best, not lobbyists and politicians.
Supporters of the health care bill spend a lot of time attacking health insurance companies.
The health care bill, by the way, would legally require people to give a lot of money to those same insurance companies. A lot of money. It would be the largest corporate gift Washington has ever given out — as much as $1.5 trillion over ten years by one estimate.
Health insurers’ loudest detractors are actually their best friends, and they don’t even seem to realize it. Apparently, regulatory capture is not always a conscious process.
Posted in Health Care
Tagged Health Care, health care bill, health care reform, health insurance, health insurance companies, health insurance mandate, insurance, lobbyists, obama, pro-business, trillion