In a December post, I wrote about the aristocracy of pull, that beautifully descriptive phrase that Ayn Rand used in her classic novel, Atlas Shrugged. It refers to the use of government power to allocate resources. Today, my fellow blogger Arnold Kling rightly calls attention to Will Wilkinson's post on a 31-year-old in the White House who gets to make big decisions for General Motors. When I read that, I thought of the aristocracy of pull. As Arnold writes, Will's whole post is worth reading.
I do have one quibble, though. Like some of the commenters on his post, I think that Will, in an attempt to appear even-handed, brought in a red herring. He wrote:
Just as Republican "libertarian" arguments for decentralized government often aim to protect the tyranny of local prejudice, Democratic "egalitarian" arguments about inequalities in wealth and income too often aim at concentrating political power in the hands of people like Brian Deese.
It's not that I think that Will is wrong about the hypocrisy of many Republicans. It's just that I don't see the connection with this issue. One of the commenters on Arnold's post, by contrast, made a much stronger connection between Republicans and Democratics on planning people's lives. "Fundamentalist" wrote:
The Bush administration hired similar young, inexperienced cult followers to manage the redestruction of Iraq. Look at Iraq and see our future.
"Fundamentalist" is wrong, I think, in thinking that anything like the mess in Iraq is in our future. But it is true that the Bush administration had its Brian Deeses who thought they could plan the Iraqi economy just as Mr. Deese thinks he can plan GM. Both have what Hayek called the "fatal conceit."
Note: when I was putting in the links, I noticed that Atlas Shrugged, published over half a century ago, is at #253 on Amazon. Amazing!