Arnold Kling  

An Army of Spitzers

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How I Would Advertise Nip/T... Once Upon a Time...

Amidst the tawdriness, I attempt to draw a real lesson.


Suppose that we define "Spitzer" as someone who believes in the aggressive use of political power. A Spitzer believes it is his mission to tell us what to do for own good.

Is Barack Obama--who also comes from a Harvard Law School background, and who identifies the "audacity of hope" with government expansion--a Spitzer? Absolutely. Is Hillary Clinton--who sees the the state as a substitute for a village, making it also a substitute for the family--a Spitzer? Positively. Is John McCain--who Virginia Postrel describes as "an instinctive regulator who considers business a base pursuit"-- a Spitzer? Unfortunately, yes.


For more on McCain as a Spitzer, see Greg Scoblete. I still hold out the hope that Senator McCain has enough common sense to rein in some of his more Spitzer-ish urges (and of course I'm not talking about sex.)


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CATEGORIES: Political Economy



COMMENTS (6 to date)

I wrote about this in a short story on my blog: http://zatavu.blogspot.com/2004/12/milton-wilcains-intelligence.html

Richard Pointer writes:

Arnold,

My thoughts...

While I believe Obama thinks that the state has an important role to play, I think that his is a qualitatively different perspective on the use of state power. Just look at his healthcare program. He doesn't use the coercive force of government to mandate purchased healthcare. Granted he uses the coercive force of taxation to subsidize it, but I think that is totally different than the use of legal action against individuals. Both Hillary and Elliot have no qualms in using judicial coercive power for the "public good".

brian writes:

Obama is less "Spitzery" than McCain. He argues in Audacity of Hope that the problem with the economy is excessive government regulation that is stifling innovation and growth.

Floccina writes:

Alex Tabarrok and Justin Wolfers seem to like what Spitzer did as AG, may I sugest a little debate between you and them?


http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2008/03/trade-offs.html

http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/11/is-virtue-what-we-buy-or-what-we-sell/

JR writes:

How about education and scholarship?
Kling: Swarthmore then MIT was it?

McCain: US Naval Academy 894th of 899

Obama: Occidental College in L.A. + Columbia U in New York for undergrad then Harvard Law (made Law Review & graduated magna cum laude)

Clinton: Wellesley then Yale Law

All: pretty tough schools to get into.

Candidate with management experience: none of the above. (except for managing their office staff).

We have a difficult 4 years coming. Who will work with both major parties? I guess McCain and maybe Obama.

PJens writes:

Arnold, you sound upset in this piece. I think it is justified.

I believe the best way to discourage Spitzer type behavior is with prison time. Many politicians have been convicted of serious crimes and not served one day behind bars. I really want to see more politicians convicted of crimes publicly sent to the big house!

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