No holiday cheer here
If you’re looking for holiday cheer, you might not want to read Holman Jenkins’ article in the Wall Street Journal today, even though it’s right on target. Its title — “Get ready for a lost decade” — gives the theme, which is elaborated thusly:
Policy is always bad to a degree, but long periods of prosperity tend to be self-reinforcing since powerful interests are born with the means and motive to preserve the status quo. That status quo may really be a contributor to prosperity, such as regulatory restraint and moderate tax rates. That status quo may in some respects be ill-advised, such as excessive subsidy to housing debt.
But once prosperity blows up, the quasi-virtuous policy circle becomes an unvirtuous one as new interest groups come to the fore to exploit an appetite, previously weak, to impose their costly or vindictive wish lists. And even well-meaning policy gets twisted and rendered incoherent.
He then provides some apt examples of current policy incoherence. As Jenkins concludes: “Merry Christmas.”