Your Moment Of WTF??
From the normally sane Will Wilkinson (h/t):
“Obama and his devotees are Bizarro World Randian romantics in the grip of an adolescent faith in the generative powers of the state.”
Savor that sentence. Cherish it. Roll it around on your tongue. It has to be the one and only time anyone will ever call Barack Obama a Randian. So enjoy it while you can.
To be fair, Wilkinson does not seem to mean that Obama is a closet Objectivist. He means that Obama, like Rand, believes in “saltative, game-changing, lone-genius invention” rather than “an accumulation of tiny productivity-enhancing innovations” as the driver of economic growth, and hopes to achieve it via government intervention. I don’t see that at all: I think Obama’s economic policy is driven not by a particular view of the specific types of technological change that drive growth, mainly by quite different ideas: that we need to replace demand to get out of the recession, that we cannot defer dealing with energy and health care without doing lasting damage to the economy, and that we have underinvested in public goods and infrastructure in ways that we cannot afford to continue.
But insofar as I can discern a position on the question “saltative invention vs. an accumulation of tiny enhancements?”, I would have put Obama in the second camp. He is, after all, known to be a fan of behavioral economics, with its many tiny tweaks, and his whole history as a Senator is full of small legislative improvements of the sort that no one who cared only for game-changing leaps would have bothered with. But I can’t think of a single analog to Galt’s amazing static-powered engine in Obama’s entire set of beliefs. In any case, I’d be interested to hear Wilkinson’s reasons for thinking as he does.