The Raleigh News & Observer asks rhetorically "What’s the Plan?" Then proceeds to list a slew of messes caused by government planning:
Inflation is up, the Dow is down. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the
federally chartered companies that hold or guarantee about half the
mortgages in this country, have lost 80 percent of their value and now
are being offered taxpayer money for a bailout — but that money’s
limited by a struggling economy and the drain of the war in Iraq.
Then, as if the authors had forgotten what they had just written (and oblivious to the irony), proceed to critique the Bush Administration for a free-market "let-the-chips-fall" attitude to the economy! (This is, of course, a caricature of the Administration, which, sadly, cannot properly be made.)
I must take a moment to point this out, because – like so many others in economic history – the News & Observer labors under the misunderstanding that complex economies can be planned and that planning failures can be fixed by bureaucrats with special knowledge. Call it the "Intelligent Design" fallacy, which has been thoroughly exposed and discredited by a number of luminaries and economic titans.
I hope the average reader is able to read between lines like:
But the White House and Congress, despite flurries of activity that
seem driven by desperation, have been generally slow to respond. The
"trickle down" of a bad economy feels this time like a waterfall.
A waterfall? Is the N&O seriously arguing with this shabby mixed metaphor that the economy is worse now than when Reagan took over from Carter? Or is this wobbly Wortspiel an attempt to discredit one of the most successful economic reform eras in U.S. history?
It’s ill-advised rapid responses by government (responses to dumb planning that creates unintended consequences – whether bailouts, tax increases or fed infusions) that keep the business cycles booming and busting. Cheap shots like the above quote at supply-side economics are yet another example of journalists playing economists in the papers. It’s this kind of unreflective pap that gets produced when reporters get their regular assignments done and the editor give them a crack at weighing in on something weighty. But it’s rather like letting a filing clerk at the doctors’ office play diagnostician for a day. I sure wouldn’t want to be the patient.