Kevin Williamson at National Review posts a powerful piece denouncing self-dealing in Congress and wrongdoing on Wall Street.
[H]edge-fund titans, i-bankers, congressional nabobs, committee chairmen, senators, swindlers, run-of-the-mill politicos, and a few outright thieves (these categories are not necessarily exclusive) all feeding at the same trough, and most of them betting that Mitt Romney won’t do anything more to stop it than Barack Obama did. …
They’re hoping that conservatives can be buffaloed with a bit of cheap free-market rhetoric into not noticing that something is excruciatingly amiss here. .. Free-market, limited-government conservatives should be none too eager to welcome them back, nor should we let our natural sympathy with the profit motive blind us to the fact that a great many of them do not belong in the conservative movement, and that more than a few of them belong in prison.
Tough stuff! Now, question: National Review is a political magazine. What, politically, would Kevin Williamson urge conservatives to do about the situation he deplores?
Williamson and other young conservatives who share his thinking are very keen to disassociate their conservatism from financial misconduct. They want to argue that is the work of Big Business and Big Government working together, and that their own ideology and movement are not in any way implicated.
Some will find this line of argument convincing, others not. Leave that aside.
The real trouble with this way of thinking is that it is entirely retrospective and argumentative. It does not answer the question: so what would you do now?
Would you tighten federal regulations on Wall Street, and if so, which?
If you oppose federal regulations to police finance, what would you do instead?
If you dislike members of Congress investing in sweetheart deals, what do you think of Rick Perry’s idea to allow members of Congress to earn even larger outside incomes?
If you oppose the undue influence of finance over Washington, which political reforms would constrain that influence?
If (as you maintain) the Tea Party is the very antithesis of Wall Street lobbying, why is Michele Bachmann denouncing Dodd-Frank? Where are the Tea Party Republicans calling for taxing hedge fund earnings as ordinary income, not capital gains?
Or to sum up: do you have a program to protect the country against the evils you decry? Or only a cultural stance against those evils?