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Steven Teles of Johns Hopkins University is a rare liberal who writes with great perception and fairness about conservatism and conservative ideas. In this episode, Steve Hayward talks with Teles about his fine new book (co-authored with Brink Lindsay) “The Captured Economy,” and also about liberalism, intellectual history, and especially about the need for more conservatives in higher education.
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This was interesting, but the guest proclivity to say ‘right’ every few words really got in the way, for me, of what he was saying.
I had exactly that reaction.
I know, right?
On a more serious note, I disagree with his initial point that you can’t be against crony capitalism unless you’re also against inequality. The problem with crony capitalism isn’t that it makes jerks rich, it’s that the jerks are also actively making everyone else poorer to get there. To the extent that other aspects of capitalism work that way (e.g. fraud) they’re outlawed.
Cornelius Flibbertigibbet is a real louse of a human being who builds a better lawn mower. People spend less time mowing their lawns, he gets rich, everyone is happy. Except for the people who have to deal with him personally, but that wasn’t going to change.
Beauregard Malefactor is a fine, upstanding vegan who cares about black lives and runs a multinational lawn mowing conglomerate. He influences government to outlaw lawnmowers that aren’t, technically speaking, made by him. They’re more expensive and they take longer to mow lawns, but Beauregard gets rich.
The problem isn’t Beauregard getting rich, it’s that he’s also making everyone else’s lives more miserable doing so.
I prefer calling it crony government rather than calling it crony capitalism. It’s about cronies using the government, not capitalism.
I prefer the “lack of economic mobility” over “inequality”. There is always going to be some people with more than others. The problem is when government policies make it harder for people to rise up.