Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Like Adam Smith, Russ Roberts keeps it simple

The turmoil in the housing market and the resulting financial crisis is just the latest example of political failure. Politicians wanted more home ownership than the market produces on its own, especially among low-income families. To encourage this politically popular goal, Fannie Mae (nyse: FNM - news - people ) and Freddie Mac (nyse: FRE - news - people ) were allowed to privatize their profits and socialize their losses. At the same time, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) required them to expand their commitment to affordable housing. Freddie and Fannie achieved this goal by buying bundles of subprime mortgages.

Both presidential candidates will promise a risk-free world with high returns. But peddling that fantasy is the cause of the current crisis. We treat our children this way--we do our best to insulate them from harm and still allow them to grow. I'd like politicians to treat me as an adult, paying the price for my recklessness and reaping a reward when I am prudent. Returning to that world, the world of markets, is the beginning of a return to stability.

Read the rest here in Forbes. So this is simple, right? Then why do most people not get it? Clearly that's more complex, but simply put I think we've produced a monster with our social democracy, and it thrives on the weaknesses of human nature, not just stupidity, but laziness, greed, and deceiptfulness.

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