George F. Will: Let The Market Work Its Magic
Pulitzer prize-winning columnist George F. Will is best known for his polite and well-sourced right-wing political views, some of which he’ll share at IndexUniverse’s Inside Indexing Conference taking place March 19-20 in Philadelphia.
Offering a taste of his upcoming keynote speech, the Illinois native told IndexUniverse.com’s Managing Editor Olivier Ludwig that entitlement programs pose a risk to American society. Beyond that, however, Will made clear he’s a believer that good-old American creativity will help pull this country through its current economic malaise.
Olivier Ludwig: I read recently on a center-left blog, electoral-vote.com, that you have said the presidential election looks like it may be a long shot for the Republicans, so it’s time to focus on the Congress. Is that something you said?
George Will: Well, it’s not quite what I said. I said, “There may come a point”–and that’s been left out of the commentary on this–but there may come a point at which people have to say: “Look, there are three great assets in a political campaign: time, money and enthusiasm. They’re all finite. And if you can’t replace Mr. Obama, then your object should be to slow him down or stop him.” And if you could take the Senate and hold the House so that all the gavels of all the committees of Congress are in Republican hands–that would be a pretty good consolation prize.
I did not say, as some people have said I said, that it’s already time to give up on the presidential race. Not at all.
Ludwig: In a nutshell, what’s wrong with the Obama administration and what they’re up to so far?
Will: Well, the Obama administration represents a culmination of a century of progressivism in this country that really began with Woodrow Wilson’s presidency 100 years ago. It has an inordinate confidence in the government’s ability to allocate wealth and opportunity. It prefers government allocations to market allocations. It shows zero inclination–and this is what I’ll be talking about at your conference–to deal with the demographic weight that is causing the entitlement-state debacle: all the un-keepable promises we’ve made to ourselves.
Ludwig: The health care bill would be an example of that, moving in exactly the opposite direction, yes?
Will: Exactly right.
Ludwig: Now, with regard to the economy and the collapse that we’ve all lived through, there’s plenty of blame going around. You hear conservatives say that the access to credit was overly liberalized by Democrats, essentially giving people mortgages who had no business getting them.
And then from the liberal side of the aisle, you hear that the mortgage mess was the culmination of an anti-regulation trend, and they blame right-wingers.
Do you have an opinion about what went down?
Will: I do. Clearly the cause of this crisis was the housing bubble. The housing bubble was created in Washington by people who just knew that too few Americans owned houses, and who just knew how to take care of that. And the answer was to liberalize–to the point of dissolution–standards in lending.
The liberal idea that banks are somehow not regulated strikes me as preposterous; they’re heavily regulated.
Ludwig: How do you answer the critique that all this securitization went to the “nth” degree and caused the problem to become much larger in magnitude than, say, it would have a generation or two ago when foreclosures spiked?
Will: Well, the securitization of the mortgage-backed securities depended upon producing the mortgages in the first place. And that’s where Fannie and Freddie came in and provided the raw material of the crisis.