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Take Responsibility

It won’t happen, but it’s an appealing thought.

Editor, Wall Street Journal
1211 6th Ave.
New York, NY 10036


Prompted by Lordstown Motors’ bankruptcy, you astutely criticize industrial policy by observing that “[n]either Mr. Trump nor President Biden were present at the Lordstown bankruptcy filing, and the politicians never have to account for what goes wrong” (“The Lordstowns of Industrial Policy,” June 28). Your observation suggests a wholesome idea: Require that any politician who attends, photographers in tow, a ribbon-cutting ceremony for an industrial-policy project also attend, with photographers in tow, that project’s bankruptcy hearing.

Investors who stake their own funds on projects that fail pay a heavy personal price for their poor judgment, thus disciplining them to improve their judgment. It only seems right, then, that politicians who stake other people’s funds on projects that fail should likewise pay a heavy personal price. If required to be personally and visibly associated with their destruction of other people’s wealth, politicians might be less cavalier at showering that wealth on industrial-policy boondoggles.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 2203