I think we ought to be harder when minor functionaries of a failed leviathan reveal themselves to have a defective understanding of the role of government in free societies. Steven Chu, the Energy Secretary who came into office saying "we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe", has now offered up another soundbite for our times. On Friday, he defended the ban on Edison's iconic incandescent in economic terms:
We are taking away a choice that continues to let people waste their own money.
So what? I waste my own money on all kinds of things. If I wanted Steven Chu to have a say in it, I'd get Parson Bloomberg to marry us at Gracie Mansion.
More to the point, I wonder if Secretary Chu has any idea how stupid this argument sounds from an administration that has wasted more of other people's money than anybody else on the planet. Secretary Chu and his colleagues took a trillion dollars of "stimulus" and, for all the stimulating it did, might as well have given it in large bills to Charlie Sheen to snort coke off his hookers' bellies with. (In my weekend column, I touch on only the most lurid and outrageous of the government's many smart investment decisions: its use of stimulus dollars to stimulate the Mexican coffin industry.)
The media are loyally doing their best for the Flatline Administration by insisting that the dead parrot economy is not deceased but merely resting for an "unexpectedly" longer period of time than had been expected. Nevertheless, having nothing to show for blowing a trillion dollars of other people's money does at least make the point in a fairly spectacular way: The distinguishing feature of the west at twilight from Sacramento to Albany to Brussells to Athens is the failure of the Chu class — the People Who Know What's Best For Us. Technocracy is a delusion, and for some developed nations it may yet prove a fatal one. There's a limit to the amount of damage I can do wasting my own money. There are no limits to the damage Chu & Co can do wasting my money. Maybe they should give up the car keys first.
(By the way, I'm looking for a presidential candidate who'll pledge to abolish Secretary Chu's Department of Energy, if only on misrepresentation grounds: They've spent their entire three-and-a-half-decade existence as the Department for Obstructing Energy.)