Laissez faire, a principle that originated with French businessmen in the 17th Century, is a fallacy that will not die. It’s the notion that an economy will flourish best if left alone—no regulations, no restrictions. The concept of limited government is also French: "Pas trop gouverner" (not too much governing), proposed by French businessmen several centuries ago, now wildly promoted by the Tea Party, not otherwise noted by its enthusiasm for things French.
Macro-economics—the economics of governments, is too often compared to micro-economics—the economics of a single household. It’s like comparing the biology of mammals and insects. Being tiny, insects don’t need lungs because they directly absorb oxygen, and can fall great distances and not be hurt. No lungless mammals exist, and most will be smashed by falling from a height. Yet people persist in comparing the economics of the US to that of a single household.
I liken macro-economics to flying a large airplane with no auto-pilot. It's easy enough because the pilot doesn’t have to keep his eye on the road. If something dangerous looms, it can come from anywhere. Student pilots are told to “keep your head on a swivel.”
Once you’ve mastered the basics, flying is a breeze, but you can’t abandon the pilot’s seat. If you did, for a while the plane would stay in the sky but you need to keep an eye on the engine instruments, and if no one corrected tiny errors, caused by a bit of turbulence, say, you’d be nudged off course, a wing would dip, causing a slow downward spiral and eventually—Crash!
That’s how we flew into the Bush Depression. As regulations and oversight were stripped away, the mighty ship of the American economy wavered, errors compounded until—Crash! Now the Republicans, Tea Party in particular, want to start the same deadly sequence all over again.
Ex-military pilot, Rick Perry, flew a Lockheed C-130 transport, a big plane with four turbo-prop engines built in 1972. It had far more advanced avionics than anything in my WW2 Boeing B–17. Perhaps Captain Perry was lulled into complacency by these invisible controls, mistaking them for no controls at all. Or maybe he just doesn’t make the connection. Meanwhile he, and all who echo the fallacious laissez-fare cry, which the French who invented it know doesn’t work, are trying to shove the U.S.A. back into the dangerous skies from which it so recently fell, crashed, and still burns.