Listen to the Man

I missed this very good Josh Barro piece defending the Washington consensus against populist remedies.

“There are numerous policy areas where the hegemony of the Washington Establishment is the only thing saving America from popular but terrible ideas—trade, immigration, foreign aid. But perhaps the best example is TARP. This is a program that looks better every day, having prevented an acute collapse of the financial system at very little cost. But in the popular mythology, TARP was a grievous and expensive error that created the Too Big To Fail concept, rather than simply recognizing its existence.

The populist view of TARP as one of the largest errors of 2008 rather than an example of policy success makes believe a weakening of the establishment will throw out the baby and keep the bathwater. It’s much safer to try to improve the Washington Consensus than to unleash the public on the levers of power.”

This reminds me of sections in “Plain, Honest Men,” where many of the founders were greatly concerned with the implications of an un or ill-informed populace with too much control over governance.