If Thomas (What’s the Matter With Kansas?) Frank didn’t exist, we’d have to invent him as a museum specimen of a clueless liberal. Among other things, if people are supposed to vote their economic self-interest, why didn’t he write What’s the Matter With the Upper West Side? Apparently only voting against your economic self-interest for Republicans counts as evidence of stupidity.
But Frank’s own retrograde ignorance is on full display in a Salon column this week, “How to Wreck the GOP in Three Easy Steps.” The three-steps to this dance are a doozy of a liberal Hokey-Pokey, because Frank really needs to turn himself around. Let’s take them in order:
1. President Obama should instruct his Attorney General to start enforcing the nation’s antitrust laws the way Democrats used to do.
Once upon a time, monopoly and oligopoly were illegal in America. Our ancestors believed, correctly, that concentrated economic power was incompatible with democracy in all sorts of ways.
Boy, here’s a slogan to stir the masses at the ballot box. Well, they can try that if they want to, but they’ll likely lose in court. Frank is obviously unaware of the revolution in anti-trust theory and law back in the 1970s that received the approval of many liberals, such as Lester Thurow. How many Nobel Prizes in economics were won for the devastating critiques of antitrust theory? I lost count. So who’s being anti-intellectual now? In any case, the Reagan Administration scaled back anti-trust prosecution in part because of better economic analysis, but also because they began losing most of the cases they did bring to court.
2. Investigate and prosecute fraud committed during the housing bubble.
Fine with me. So when are we going to arrest Franklin Raines, Jim Johnston, Janet Napolitano, and all the other Democratic factotums who ran Fannie Mae, one of the primary engines of the housing bubble and crash? And let’s not forget to subpoena that other Frank (Barney the dinosaur) as a hostile prosecution witness. Oops.
3. Make it clear that he will no longer tolerate the college tuition price spiral.
So we’re going to kill off all of the government loan programs and federal mandates that have been a primary driver of college tuition inflation? I’m all for it. When do we begin the layoffs of all the associate deans for diversity and the compliance officers for Title IX? When do we start demanding higher teaching loads from tenured faculty at our public research universities? That ought to go down well with Obama’s primary constituency.
Maybe I should go easier on Frank. I’m starting to wonder whether Frank isn’t a Karl Rove (or Koch brothers) plant inside the left, designed to work mayhem. If so, it’s another genius idea that is working splendidly.