Most interesting sentence I read about Obama today.

“I believe the Obama years will cause a crisis for progressivism roughly comparable to what the Bush years have brought upon libertarianism.”

That’s Tyler Cowan over at Marginal Revolution. Tyler is pretty influential in the blogosphere, and he’s an astute commentator on economic issues. I think he has a decent chance of being right.

There could be a couple of reasons his thought might come to pass. None of them involve Obama not wanting to help people. Good intentions and governments do not usually make for a good combo. The most likely problem will be the typical political/bureaucratic one. The program will be founded on all the best intentions but the political process in getting it passed and the actual running of it make a mess out of it.

Even if by some miracle a program is not plagued by those problems, you can bet our old friend “unintended consequences” will rear its ugly head. See the Ethanol program for an example of that…

So as usual, I anticipate whatever government programs that come out of the next administration will be, at best, too expensive. At worst, they will inflict significant damage to the economy or to the people that the program is aimed towards. It won’t be because Obama is a democrat, because he is stupid, or because they will be pursuing something evil, it will be because they used the wrong tool to get the job done. It will be because they tried to make the government responsible for things that it can’t be responsible for. I can only hope that this crisis in progressivism comes soon…

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