Friday, January 9, 2009

Oil Meets Water: Obama at GMU

Obama outlined his economic plan at my alma mater yesterday. That our incoming president presented his statist economic "remedies" at the current bastion of free market economic thought is more than ironic. Here is Pete Boetke, a former professor of mine, on the speech:

The speech was important for Obama because he is setting expectations. Don't blame his administration for the economic situation and don't even blame his administration for the economic situation 3 years from now because the situation is that dire caused by the "do nothingism" philosophy of old ideas on the economy and government. Government must be an active player in the economy, and seen as the corrective to our social ills. We have sunk into such a deep hole, in fact, that ONLY government can get us out. If our economic situation is anything other than grave in the coming years, it will be because of the bold and pro-active steps his administration will have taken. All praise go to the articulate and intelligent leader. Who, let me remind you, is pragmatic and open to discussion, but you better get onboard quickly with these policy initiatives or we are going to be in a living hell.

I really don't see how as an economist in the tradition of Adam Smith, JB Say, L. Mises, F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman, and James Buchanan can see ANYTHING positive in Obama's speech. That it was delivered at GMU is as ironic as it is disturbing.

Here's Russ Roberts, another professor of GMU Econ:

As I type these words, President-elect Obama is here on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University giving a major economics address. Read Eric Sweeney writes:

That whirring sound you hear is George Mason spinning in his grave as Obama speaks at GMU!

I'd be curious to know why he's speaking here. The speech is invitation only. I was told it will be attended by "dignitaries--governors and mayors, politicians." Maybe they should call them undignataries. Having coffee this morning in the student center, Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York, was one table over. He did not have his hand out but I'm sure he's been practicing, getting ready for the Obama administration. I resisted the urge to ask him about this disgraceful behavior.

Professor Alex Tabbarok isn't so concerned:

Overall, my view is that the Obama fiscal stimulus plan is evolving in a sensible direction. As promised, he is a pragmatist who is listening to a wide variety of well-qualified, centrist economists.

Do note that I am evaluating Obama relative to what we can expect given the situation and our current politics and also relative to say the New Deal.