Bill Brown bio photo

Bill Brown

A complicated man.

Twitter Github

In case my recent entries have given anyone the impression that I'm a fan of John McCain, I am most assuredly not. My vote will go against Barack Obama, not for the maverick without a cause. McCain is a huge mess: he's strayed further and further from his misguided principles, looking more like the power luster grinning stupidly as the levers of power get within reach.

Describing the recent financial difficulties, McCain laid the blame squarely on the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Christopher Cox:

Mismanagement and greed became the operating standard while regulators were asleep at the switch. The primary regulator of Wall Street, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) kept in place trading rules that let speculators and hedge funds turn our markets into a casino. They allowed naked short selling—which simply means that you can sell stock without ever owning it. They eliminated last year the uptick rule that has protected investors for 70 years. Speculators pounded the shares of even good companies into the ground.

The chairman of the SEC serves at the appointment of the President and has betrayed the public's trust. If I were President today, I would fire him.

Sigh. McCain has seen Obama's demagoguery and decided that he needed to get himself some of that action. His disgusting me-tooism has unmoored whatever "small government" ideals he may have ever co-opted during his lengthy tenure in the halls of Congress.

I haven't been following the SEC chairman since I waxed hopeful at his appointment but the blame for the current situation cannot possibly fall on one man or even one agency—it arises from a systemic shift towards government overreach. The candidates (and their vice presidents) talk about cleaning up government but it's always along the lines of making this overreach more efficient; it's never about questioning whether the government has any role in the first place.

I'm reminded of Barry Goldwater's now-anachronistic words from The Conscience of a Conservative:

I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is "needed" before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents "interests," I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.

We would do well to remember these words and urge our representatives to take them to heart.

[UPDATE (9/22/2008): Here are two other grudging, hesitant expressions of McCain support.]