Frenetic Fiddling

by Russ Roberts on March 30, 2009

in Frenetic Fiddling, Man of System

The White House, stung by the backlash of giving AIG money and then seeing it spent in the way that Washington and Main Street doesn't like, seems intent on not making the same mistake with the automakers. The NYT reports:

The White House on Sunday pushed out the chairman of General Motors and instructed Chrysler to form a partnership with the Italian automaker Fiat within 30 days as conditions for receiving another much-needed round of government aid.

The decision to ask G.M.’s chairman and chief executive, Rick Wagoner,
to resign caught Detroit and Washington by surprise, and it underscored
the Obama administration’s determination to keep a tight rein on the
companies it is bailing out — a level of government involvement in
business perhaps not seen since the Great Depression.

Instead, the President has decided to make a different mistake. He is presuming his experts can run the auto industry better than the people whose name and reputation and job are on the line. He is ignoring the signals this sends to the rest of the economy–taking money from the government is a game for suckers. This changes the rules of the game at every bank that has taken TARP money and anyone who thinks their industry is on the edge of problems that might be solved by Washington.

Tell your children what is happening. When we look back on the New Deal—some see a benevolent attempt to save the economy that made things better while others see a desperate attempt to try anything that might work and that ultimately made things worse.

We are living through a similar time. An activist President is desperate to show he cares and is on top of things, working tirelessly to save the country. We will se what the results are, but tell your children what is going on and how it affects incentives. How does this affect the decision to buy a GM car? Invest in GM? Buy their bonds? It's hard to say but certainly a new level of uncertainty has arrived. Uncertainty is not good for thouse considering making long-term investments as customers or investors.

In general, I have dismissed the argument that Obama is a socialist. But these decisions sure are a step in that direction. Very scary.

Finally, these decisions highlight a fundamental misunderstanding about the implications of a bailout. People often argue that when "we" give companies money, "we" have the right to tell them what to do. Sure we have the moral right whatever it means to say "we" in those sentences. But is it smart and good for "us" to have GM and Chrysler run out of Washington. I think "we" would be wise to forego the moral right to tell them what to do. Government should either give the money with no strings attached or not give the money. This hybrid of implicit nationalization is the worst option.

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Adam March 30, 2009 at 10:01 am

"He is ignoring the signals this sends to the rest of the economy–taking money from the government is a game for suckers."

Great! Maybe we'll look back on this as the price we had to pay for the end to bailout nation.

OK, probably not – but I can dream, can't I?

Daniel Kuehn March 30, 2009 at 10:04 am

I want to explore this assumption a little bit: "He is presuming his experts can run the auto industry better than the people whose name and reputation and job are on the line"

I've heard it a lot lately. The move this morning was disappointing to me too – but I wonder how much the White House will actually be "running" the companies compared to how much it will just be a management shake-up and a set of loans in the near future. That seems like a far cry from "running the company", but I'm not really sure what's in the works.

Daniel Kuehn March 30, 2009 at 10:05 am

You also hear this assumption on the banks a lot. My impression, however, is that the government DOESN'T want to run the banks because they know they are woefully unprepared and in a poor position to do that. Temporary receivership? If it's necessary. But not "running the banks". They seem terrified of that prospect – and I would assume even more so in the auto industry.

So are we really talking about "running" any of these industries? Or is it something more specific and temporary (albeit still intrusive) than that.

Steven Conklin March 30, 2009 at 10:15 am

It's worse than hybrid nationalization. It's lawless behavior by a group of scared and highly emotional politicians.

And to quibble, I think morality is the wrong description. No one doubts the legal right of the lender to impose conditions on "loans" or "investments". But those terms and conditions are stated up front in a written and legally binding contract.

Instead we have the worst of all possible worlds. "Loans" and "investments" with ill defined benchmarks and timetables subject to interpretation at the whim of the political class.

I'm concerned. This reminds me of a film (or maybe a book?) where some lowly able seaman returns from a trip to the bridge and tells his comrades, "They are all scared up there. They don't know what to do."

In times of crisis, the job of a leader is define the problem, chart a course, take action and persuade the organization that said action is the most correct choice.

We are not even close.

John March 30, 2009 at 10:23 am

I see a future where corporate CEOs are all presidential appointees by virtue of the fact that the corporations all owe "the people" some bailout money.
Talk about control…

William March 30, 2009 at 10:38 am

This kind of meddling with the executives of a company reminds me strongly of the way governments in China handle their state-owned enterprises.

Ike March 30, 2009 at 10:40 am

I thought this was just part of the pledge to create 3-million new jobs.

Foxwood March 30, 2009 at 10:40 am

Big Brother is watching. This is just one more step in the Communist Manifesto.

Crusader March 30, 2009 at 11:23 am

The problem I have with muirgeo is that he takes certain market failures and declares that the entire free market has failed. He does it over and over again. That is why we all think of him as a pure troll. Even Don has admitted it.

John Dewey March 30, 2009 at 11:24 am

Daniel Kuehn: "I wonder how much the White House will actually be "running" the companies compared to how much it will just be a management shake-up and a set of loans in the near future."

When the President of the U.S., together with the U.S. Congress, passes judgment on the strategic plans of GM and Chrysler, how is that anything other than running those companies? That's exactly the function of the Board of Directors for most corporations.

When the President Bill Clinton decided that Franklin Raines would run Fannie Mae – and then when Clinton later pressured his appointee to ease credit standards for loans to low income borrowers – can we really claim that the U.S. government was not running Fannie Mae? How did that work out? Is what Clinton did really that much different than what Obama is doing with GM and Chrysler?

BoscoH March 30, 2009 at 11:33 am

Um, Daniel, Obama fired GM's CEO and told Chrysler who it was going to partner with. That is running those companies. It's not like Obama called up Wagoner and said, "hey, do you think you could do me a little kindness and reign, if you feel like it, no pressure man.".

And how do you get this impression anyway? Congress is part of the government and has told the auto execs that they can't fly around in corporate jets.(*) Remember that? They told AIG that they can't give bonuses. They told Wells Fargo, an unwilling recipient of TARP money, that they couldn't have a sales retreat in Vegas. You know, to reward the salespeople who kept Wells' collective butt out of this mess in the first place. No, the government doesn't want to run anything because it knows it doesn't know how, but Congress will hold hearings on things it doesn't understand.

(*) Please explain why an auto company might rationally have its execs fly on corporate jets rather than commercial if you'd like to be taken seriously.

Daniel Kuehn March 30, 2009 at 11:35 am

John -
Certainly the government was and is running Fannie Mae – but that was always a different beast than GM.

And I'm not denying the overreach of this recent GM move. I think it's wrong.

But I also think we should distinguish between what the administration feels (rightly or wrongly) are emergency expedients – distinguish between that and real prospects for a nationalized car or banking industry. That seems enormously unlikely.

Would you say that I'm wrong to distinguish between these temporary, but still disturbing moves – and long term management? I don't think it's an unrealistic distinction to make.

John March 30, 2009 at 11:43 am

DK,
I would agree with you except that the words "temporary" and "government" rarely coincide.
This whole bailout is nothing short of a power grab, and once a government gains power it rarely if ever relinquishes it willingly.
Precedent has now been set for the government to decide who runs a corporation, and what seems shocking now I'm quite positive (let me adjust my tinfoil hat) will be the norm in the not too distant future.

Daniel Kuehn March 30, 2009 at 11:44 am

BoscoH -
RE: "No, the government doesn't want to run anything because it knows it doesn't know how, but Congress will hold hearings on things it doesn't understand."

I would be the last one to disagree with this :)

RE: "(*) Please explain why an auto company might rationally have its execs fly on corporate jets rather than commercial if you'd like to be taken seriously."

I have no clue why I need to answer this to be taken seriously. Congress publicly shamed them into doing this – they didn't make them do anything. It was a childish ploy, but I don't mind. The CEO's certainly didn't seem to mind driving from Detroit. It's a nice symbolic gesture. Now – the taxes on AIG were another thing entirely, and that was highly inappropriate. I'm not sure how any of this speaks to my basic point.

I just think it's important to differentiate between temporary "emergency" action – some of which I agree with (shaming he execs into driving), much of which I strongly disagree with (AIG tax, firing Wagoner) – and actually nationalizing these industries. It seems like the two are worlds apart and it's worth noting that they are.

Right?

I mean – this is more akin to the RTC than it is to Chavez's nationalizations isn't it?

Is it really so crazy for me to raise that point – to recognize that there are degrees of difference?

Daniel Kuehn March 30, 2009 at 11:46 am

John -
RE: "I would agree with you except that the words "temporary" and "government" rarely coincide."

It's a convincing sentiment you have, but we've done it lots of times in the past. I'm not sure why you think we're somehow going to be marching towards a permanent nationalization this time.

John March 30, 2009 at 11:48 am

DK,
Granted there's a difference between the government absorbing a corporation and deciding who runs it, however what both cases have in common is a government appointed CEO.

Flash Gordon March 30, 2009 at 11:58 am

I wonder why Russell Roberts would dismiss the argument that Obama is a socialist. It seems that is could not have been more clear for some time now. Socialism in its current does not require that the government actually own the means of production. Why own it when you can regulate it, tax it, and basically run it with all the power you would have if you did own it? Especially if you can still find suckers willing to invest in it and buy its bonds.

yet another Dave March 30, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Daniel,
I think the politicians in DC are far more dangerous than you give them credit for.

While many reasonable Americans make allowances for temporary emergency actions, the politicians expand their power yet further. That power, once expanded, almost never is reduced.

The creeping incrementalism of this expansion de-sensitizes the population to ever further encroachments into the formerly private sector and facilitates future expansions of politician's power.

I believe many (perhaps most) of the posters here wish to stop the expansion. I know I do. The only way to stop it is to fight every bit of it every time. (Unfortunately, the best we seem to do is slow it down a little.)

Daniel Kuehn March 30, 2009 at 12:13 pm

yet another Dave -
RE: "I think the politicians in DC are far more dangerous than you give them credit for."

Well, I just think their deviousness has a two, four, or six year time horizon (depending on where in DC they happen to do their dirty work from). And I see know sign that anyone wants to run a bank or a car company.

Name me an industry that we've nationalized in the past that wasn't temporary. I know we've encroached via regulation – that's a different beast entirely. But in terms of actually running companies, name me something where it hasn't been temporary. I can only think of one, and it's an Austrian favorite so it should be easy.

Oil Shock March 30, 2009 at 12:19 pm

And I'm not denying the overreach of this recent GM move. I think it's wrong.

You are not very good with the sandwich approach that Dale Carnegie recommended. Sure you are not denying the overreach, but you are overlooking it. You are more concerned with a post @Cafe Hayek more than the over reach.

If every other comment of yours was a criticism of such overreach, we would have taken you seriously. That is not the case, you are here to argue the semantics.

Oil Shock March 30, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Well, I just think their deviousness has a two, four, or six year time horizon (depending on where in DC they happen to do their dirty work from). And I see know sign that anyone wants to run a bank or a car company.

Precisely, they can't and won't put the long term interests of the people.

Daniel Kuehn March 30, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Oil Shock -
RE: "Sure you are not denying the overreach, but you are overlooking it. You are more concerned with a post @Cafe Hayek more than the over reach."

I'm not overlooking it – I'm just not talking about it now. I'm sorry I never seem to have the right increment of moral indignation for you! (as you guessed earlier… not really sorry… that's just kind of a polite thing to say)

RE: "That is not the case, you are here to argue the semantics."

It's not semantics (although I've certainly argued semantics in the past). Russ explicitly connects the two. I'm saying "it's bad but it's not as bad as you're making it". That's not semantics. That's not ignoring the move. That's not justifying the move. I'm trying to put the move into context.

It's possible to be bothered by something without concluding that we're headed to full-scale nationalization, isn't it?

Crusader March 30, 2009 at 12:26 pm

It's possible to be bothered by something without concluding that we're headed to full-scale nationalization, isn't it?

Posted by: Daniel Kuehn

That is exactly what I fear is coming down the pipe from the Obama gangsters.

John Dewey March 30, 2009 at 12:40 pm

daniel kuehn: "but that was always a different beast than GM."

Really? How so? Because Fannie Mae was a government agency before it became a private corporation?

OK. How about another example? The U.S. government took over Penn Central's passenger rail service in 1971, creating Amtrak. Do you think President Richard Nixon intended that the U.S. government would subsidize Amtrak for the next 40 years and decide what services it should offer? I don't think so, but that's exactly what happened.

daniel kuehn: "between that and real prospects for a nationalized car or banking industry. That seems enormously unlikely."

Is it unlikely to you that GM and Chrysler will continue to survive for decades as government sponsored enterprises? Amtrak has survived as a government sponsored enterprise for 4 decades, though such a permanent system was hardly the plan of Nixon and Congress in 1971.

Once Congress gets its fingers in an industry – and starts to exercise the enormous power they have been granted – what motivation will these politicians have to ever get out?

Oil Shock March 30, 2009 at 12:43 pm

It's possible to be bothered by something without concluding that we're headed to full-scale nationalization, isn't it?

Where did Russ say anything about fullscale nationalization?

I don't like to eat from a plate that has small amounts of dog poop, and you pointing out that it is not a whole plate of dog poop doesn't make a difference.

John March 30, 2009 at 12:44 pm

It seems we've got two camps here. Those who see nationalization and totalitarianism around the corner, and those who say "Prove it! I won't believe anything unless it is documented in triplicate, peer reviewed, full consensus, and endorsed by at least ten celebrities. Anthropogenic Global Warming is fact, encroachment of our civil liberties is a fiction dreamed up by paranoid tinfoil hat wearers."

Am I far off?

Daniel Kuehn March 30, 2009 at 12:45 pm

John -
RE: "Really? How so? Because Fannie Mae was a government agency before it became a private corporation? "

Right.

On Amtrak – I was actually thinking thinking of the government control of the money supply, but Amtrak is a good example as well.

I'm guessing Congress will be meddling in GM and Chrysler until they feel no need to depend on subsidized loans any longer. Notice they're not touching Ford. I've been very troubled reading all this all morning. Don't get me wrong – it's not good news at all. But I have a feeling it's going to play out somewhat differently and Obama will not end up being another Putin or Chavez.

Crusader March 30, 2009 at 12:48 pm

2 examples of government failure – year after year:

Post office
Amtrack

John March 30, 2009 at 12:49 pm

"But I have a feeling it's going to play out somewhat differently and Obama will not end up being another Putin or Chavez."

Not if he has anything to do with it.
That giggle we heard in that interview with Steve Kroft was not a nervous twitter of a man accustomed to a teleprompter, rather the intoxicated laughter of someone who is drunk with power.

Daniel Kuehn March 30, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Oil Shock -
RE: "Where did Russ say anything about fullscale nationalization?"

He didn't – that was my point. He did talk about the administration "running" the car companies.

RE: "I don't like to eat from a plate that has small amounts of dog poop, and you pointing out that it is not a whole plate of dog poop doesn't make a difference.

Hmmm… not sure how illuminating that metaphor is – but I'd personally rather eat a small amount of poop than a lot of it. You're assuming that temporary and permanent measures are both bad, and the difference is only in degree. I don't make that assumption and I think that some intervention may actually bear fruit in the future. So I think the value of your metaphor depends on me actually agreeing with you – which is an odd strategy for trying to convince me of anything.

yet another Dave March 30, 2009 at 12:58 pm

Daniel,

I think you completely missed my point. Whether an industry has been permanently nationalized iDaniel,

I think you completely missed my point. Whether any industry has been permanently nationalized is irrelevant to my point. The point is that this is an expansion of government power. Even if the politicians are only thinking 2 years ahead, the cumulative effect of their deviousness is to expand government power at the expense of our liberty.

I find your positions extremely dangerous, because you seem to understand that the government is over-stepping its bounds, yet you make excuses for them. You seem to me to have an “it won’t happen here” attitude. You defend that attitude by splitting hairs over perceptions about how bad this or that particular event is.

Whether you realize it or not, we are engaged in a battle for liberty. The battle has been happening for generations, and liberty is losing. I would love for you to hop off the fence and join the voices trying to turn the tide.
s irrelavent

Daniel Kuehn March 30, 2009 at 12:59 pm

John -
RE: "Am I far off?"

I think you're quite far off, at least in characterizing my opinion. I don't think you're a paranoid tin-foil hat wearer – I just don't see boogey men where you do.

Daniel Kuehn March 30, 2009 at 1:01 pm

yet another Dave -
I'm on the fence about certain policy decisions or economic debates or ideological arguments. I'm not on the fence in a battle for liberty. I just don't see Obama as the enemy of liberty that you do.

Fabio Franco March 30, 2009 at 1:02 pm

What is really scary is that Prof. Roberts has dismissed the argument that President Obama is a socialist. Isn't he going against an argument Hayek himself would have used?

"Socialist ideas have so deeply penetrated general thought that it is not even only those pseudo-liberals who merely disguise their socialism by the name they have assumed, but also many conservatives who have assumed socialist ideas and language and constantly employ them in the belief that they are an established part of current thought. (From "Law, Legislation and Liberty", vol. III «The Political Order of a Free People»).

John March 30, 2009 at 1:04 pm

DK,
You seem to be attracted to quick movements, which means you don't see the boogey men because they are moving too slowly to catch your attention, and so large that you must step backwards to view them in their entirety.

Daniel Kuehn March 30, 2009 at 1:08 pm

John -
RE: "You seem to be attracted to quick movements, which means you don't see the boogey men because they are moving too slowly to catch your attention, and so large that you must step backwards to view them in their entirety."

Haha – perhaps. The risk on the flip side of that coin is that when you specifically set about to "connect the dots" in the big picture you may find patterns that you want to find, not patterns that really exist.

jl March 30, 2009 at 1:24 pm

These things proceed by fits and starts. Certainly no one on this blog would claim that prior to Obama's inauguration we had a perfectly free market everywhere and that, after 60+ days we are on the road to perdition and socialism. However, this action with respect to the auto industry is frighteningly similar to other things that the government has done since the 1930's in particular. Government gets involved in the markets to right some wrong, creates a bigger problem, blames it on the markets, gets more involved, lather, rinse repeat. It is much easier to find examples of industries that the government has increased it meddling in – sometimes nearly monotonicaly – than otherwise. Health care, pharma, autos, agriculture, home finance, banking, investment banking, come to mind immediately. On the other side – maybe airlines. Maybe trucking. The government avoided going after delivery of non-first class mail which counts for something. Still, slim pickings.

lightduty March 30, 2009 at 1:29 pm

Obama said his team was coming up with a business plan for GM. Two thoughts on that.

1 – a real business plan, written by the White House, would be extreme micro-management. Even the army doesn't have to suffer the pols at the WH writing their operational documents.

2 – Who in Obama's team has EVER written a business plan before?

BoscoH March 30, 2009 at 1:31 pm

Daniel asks: Name me an industry that we've nationalized in the past that wasn't temporary.

Flood insurance. AT&T before deregulation (too long to be temporary). First class mail. Amtrak. Airport Security.

And your comment on "not minding" the Congressional shame machine over corporate jets illustrates that you (like many in government) don't care about the basics of the auto industry! These companies have plant, distribution, and retail that is not always within reach of major airports. Corporate jets give managers the ability to reach important sites quickly by giving them access to smaller, regional airports with less lead time.

Daniel Kuehn March 30, 2009 at 1:38 pm

BoscoH-
I didn't say they shouldn't have corporate jets! I just said I'm not going to lose sleep over Congress shaming them into driving to DC for a Congressional hearing.

RE: "Flood insurance. AT&T before deregulation (too long to be temporary). First class mail. Amtrak. Airport Security."

Other good examples. I said one came to mind immediately, and certainly there are more. My point was that despite significant meddling in steel, autos, and banks in the past there has never been any permanent power grab for them. Notice that every one of the industries that you list were justified by the nationalizers as some sort of "natural monopoly" or public interest. And certainly we can argue whether that justification was right or not. I'm really not a big-government kind of guy. I just think about what we have nationalized in the past, and what we've interfered with but not nationalized – and I see very important distinctions that indicate to me that this is not some kind of permanent power-grab. I just don't see it. I see no desire for it, and I see no precedent for it. You can make a "natural monopoly" argument for AT&T that you just can't make for car companies. I'm not an apologist for government – I just think the distinctions are very important.

John March 30, 2009 at 1:39 pm

"you may find patterns that you want to find, not patterns that really exist."

I'll give you that. But something doesn't need a large group of people to agree upon it to be true, and a large group of people can agree on something that is false.

I'm not sure that Obama and company are specifically trying to expand government power for power's sake, I think they really believe in what they are doing.
Continually expanding regulations at the price of liberty and choice can only lead to totalitarianism where every movement requires a permit or supervision.
It's an incoming tide of government encroachment, with an inevitable result of a totalitarian state.
Forward and back, forward and back, but always more forward than back.

Oil Shock March 30, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Yeah Daniel, you like to eat dog poop in small and increasing quantities and want to shove it down other peoples throat as well. No thank you. I don't live off of dog poop.

yet another Dave March 30, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Daniel:

I'm on the fence about certain policy decisions or economic debates or ideological arguments. I'm not on the fence in a battle for liberty. I just don't see Obama as the enemy of liberty that you do.

Then I conclude that you're either blind, foolishly optimistic, or willfully ignorant. Any of these is very dangerous IMO.

By the way, it's not just Obama, he is just one in the latest group of politricksters. Even if the intentions of this latest group are completely good it doesn't matter. Their rhetoric also doesn't matter. What matters are the results of what they do.

I believe those results will reduce our liberty, and therefore they are enemies of liberty. I wish more people would wake up and realize what's going on. Things that would have been outrageous 30 years ago are now widely accepted. Things that are outrageous now will be common in another 30 years unless enough people start fighting back. (BTW, I'm not calling for armed revolution here, just in case anybody would take that meaning.)

- Oh, and please forgive the garbled previous post (the middle is what I wanted; the beginning part-paragraph and last line should have been deleted). I evidently forgot how to use a keyboard
:o )

John March 30, 2009 at 1:51 pm

yet another Dave,
I keep hoping we can have a peaceful revolution at the ballot box, but I'm losing hope.
It seems to me that we're at a tipping point where nearly half the population is what I call 'adult children', that is children in adult bodies in need of someone to take care of them.
They will always vote for the one who promises the most, not caring who is hurt by it anymore than a spoiled child cares about anything outside their selfish interests.

Daniel Kuehn March 30, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Oil Shock -
RE: "Yeah Daniel, you like to eat dog poop in small and increasing quantities and want to shove it down other peoples throat as well. No thank you. I don't live off of dog poop."

Yes – shoving dog poop down other people's throats… that's what I'm all about.

John Dewey March 30, 2009 at 2:03 pm

daniel kuehn: "I'm guessing Congress will be meddling in GM and Chrysler until they feel no need to depend on subsidized loans any longer. Notice they're not touching Ford."

With Amtrak, the subsidies have lasted 38 years so far. Why do you think Congress will feel the need to meddle in GM for only a lesser period?

The government may not be "touching" Ford – and Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, and other auto manufacturers. But their actions have certainly impacted other providers of passenger vehicles.

When the U.S. government chose to subsidize Amtrak, it gave the passenger rail company a financial advantage over Greyhound, Continental Trailways, People's Express, American Airlines, and all other companies in the U.S. mass transit market.

yet another Dave March 30, 2009 at 2:03 pm

John,
I share your hope, and I too wonder if it's not already too late. I'm particularly interested in things we could do to at least start moving in the right direction. As in things that are politically possible. I struggle to come up with any because the incentives are so powerful to keep the snowball rolling ever faster down the hill toward us.

John March 30, 2009 at 2:08 pm

yet another Dave,
I wonder what could be done to change things and stop that snowball, but I fear it is too late.
People once put more value upon something earned vs a gift, but now the distinction is increasingly vague.
We've got so many people getting these gifts from the government that they believe are theirs.
Words such as "deserve", "owe" and "fair" have been distorted into concepts that require the government taking from one and giving a gift to another.
I don't think it can be stopped. At best we can slow it down enough to prepare for the worst, but no I don't think it can be stopped.

John Dewey March 30, 2009 at 2:26 pm

boscoH: "Flood insurance. AT&T before deregulation (too long to be temporary). First class mail. Amtrak. Airport Security."

daniel kuehn: "every one of the industries that you list were justified by the nationalizers as some sort of "natural monopoly" or public interest."

What exactly do you mean by "public interest"?

Ensuring the survival and quality of our nation's food supply is the probably the most important "public interest". Should Obama and Congress use that "public interest" as justification for taking over food companies that fail? or farms that fail?

What was the "natural monopoly" possessed by Penn Central's passenger rail service? Greyhound and Continental Trailways certainly didn't view Penn Central as a "natural monopoly".

Prior to 2001, airport security was generally provided by passenger airline companies. Why do you argue airport security is or was a "natural monopoly"?

daniel kuehn: "You can make a "natural monopoly" argument for AT&T that you just can't make for car companies."

What was "natural" about the near-monopoly AT&T held in long distance telephone service?

Sam Grove March 30, 2009 at 2:32 pm

I just don't see Obama as the enemy of liberty that you do.

Certainly Obama doesn't see his actions as a threat to liberty.

To avoid being eaten by tigers, it is better to see them when they aren't there, than to not see them when they are.

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