Nixon Goes to China
Posted on October 14, 2008
Only Richard Nixon, a well-known and fierce anti-communist, could have gone to China to meet with Chairman Mao and open relations with the largest Communist nation on earth.
We are seeing the same dynamic today.
Only George Bush and Hank Paulson, fierce free-market advocates, could take the measures they did today to have the government take an ownership share of the banking industry.
If Barack Obama had attempted to do what Bush and Paulson are doing today, he would have been condemned as a socialist or a communist. The business community would have risen up as one to stop them from nationalizing our economy. Protesters would have flooded the streets, and political commentators would have lamented the end of democracy and the free-market.
But the business community is cheering this takeover. There are no protesters. Political commentators are generally happy with the development.
What Bush and Paulson are doing is non-ideological. They are not taking over a major industry because they believe that the government runs businesses better than businesses themselves. They are taking over the banking industry because it is a practical step towards keeping out us out of recession or worse.
Nixon went to China not because he had changed his mind about Communism. He went to China because it was a practical response to the continuing war in Viet Nam and the lingering Cold War with Russia. He also went to China because he saw the possibilities in engaging a country with a billion citizens. Nixon put aside his ideological concerns and put pragmatism first.
There is a place for ideology. Ideology helped America beat Russia in the Cold War. Trusting the markets sometime takes a leap of faith that only ideology can make possible. And I must admit I am concerned about this government takeover of our banking sector. It makes me nervous. What is next? The auto industry? The airline industry? The drug industry?
Had a Democrat attempted this takeover, I would have bitterly opposed it. They don’t have any great regard for the free market and such a move would have been correctly seen as an attempt to make the free market much less free.
But with Bush and Paulson initiating this move, it can only be seen as a practical effort to protect the free market. You know it kills Bush and Paulson to have this takeover on their watch. Only Nixon could go to China. Only Bush and Paulson could take this dramatic step today.