Former Car Czar Hates Democracy
Former car czar Steve Rattner sat down with Ezra Klein to whine about how the American people and its Congress wouldn't just turn over the whole economy to unelected experts such as himself.
Former car czar Steve Rattner sat down with Ezra Klein to whine about how the American people and its Congress wouldn’t just turn over the whole economy to unelected experts such as himself. For example:
When you actually deal with them to try and get something done? It’s impossible. It is so divisive, so parochial and so petty. If you look at the auto rescue, the only time Congress really got involved was over the dealers. Here we are, laying off thousands of workers and restructuring these companies, and the only thing that animated Congress was the dealers. In terms of the body as a whole, they were just obstructionists.
I think that if we didn’t have TARP, the whole economy could have imploded before Congress figured out what to do. They hated TARP because it gave the Treasury a $700 billion check, but it wouldn’t have worked any other way.
Jonathan Bernstein explains at length why checks and balances are actually not such a bad thing and pointing out that experts can be wrong from time to time. I commend the whole piece to you but here’s a taste:
Should qualified experts make policy? Even if they would be better at it, there’s still a case to be made for divisive, parochial, and petty voices in national policy-making. What is bureaucracy? It isn’t rule of the people; it’s rule of anonymous functionaries. We are to be governed by desks — what Hannah Arendt called “the rule of nobody,” or what Max Weber called an “iron cage” from which humanity could not escape.
They feared bureaucracy not because it was inefficient, but precisely because it was so effective. They were terrified it would leave no room for people to actively choose how to organize themselves in the world.
Quite right. I’d call your attention to another line from the Rattner interview:
Remember, I didn’t have to be confirmed by Congress. If I’d had to be confirmed, I probably would have never gotten through.
Maybe there’s a reason for confirmation hearings, after all.