As part of a Truth on the Market blog series on the law, economics, and policy of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, WLF Senior Litigation Counsel Corbin K. Barthold authored the March 23 post, “There is No Cure for Government Incompetence.” 

Corbin cautions that while Americans are understandably looking to government for leadership and reassurance during the pandemic, “that pernicious line, ‘Don’t let a crisis go to waste’ is in the air.” He chides “political gougers” for trying to “cram woke diktats” into disaster-relief legislation and progressive commentators for peddling the notion that, in response to the crisis, we should “restore the expansive state of yesteryear”:

“This is nonsense. Our [current] government is not incompetent because Grover Norquist tried (and mostly failed) to strangle it. Our government is incompetent because, generally speaking, government is incompetent. The keystone of the New Deal, the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, was an incoherent mess. Its stated goals were at once to ‘reduce and relieve unemployment,’ ‘improve standards of labor,’ ‘avoid undue restriction of production,’ ‘induce and maintain united action of labor and management,’ ‘organiz[e] . . . co-operative action among trade groups,’ and ‘otherwise rehabilitate industry.’ The law empowered trade groups to create their own ‘codes of unfair competition,’ a privilege they quite predictably used to form anticompetitive cartels.”

Americans will not, Corbin writes, “long tolerate a statist revolution imposed on their fears. And thank goodness for that.”

He concludes: “[W]e can be confident that, come what may, planned administration will remain a source of problems, while unplanned free enterprise will remain the surest source of solutions.”