Ergas’ Analysis Shows Up The Dilettantes

Photo by Infidelic FlickrHenry Ergas  nails, with forensic thoroughness, the nonsense that passes for regulation review at the Federal level.

In truth, it’s a nonsense at all levels of government, but the Feds are the paradigm case under the current government.

The way in which he does it – seriously, looking to the long term –  calls to mind this from Walter Russell Mead. It  is far too true of me,  my friends, and most journalists, by the way [my emphasis]:

 But following politics in this sense isn’t a serious pursuit, anymore than being a fanatical hockey fan or a Civil War re-enactor is a serious pursuit. And while most hobbyists and sports fans are realistic about the value of their fixations, politics fans often labor under the delusion that they are being serious and engaged when they are in fact goofing off. Election coverage often feeds this delusion, both because it is good business for the media to flatter its customers and because many pundits and reporters themselves get so caught up in the chase that they lose perspective on the inconsequential nature of so much of what they cover and write.

I hate to be the cranky voice of dissent here, but cluttering ones memory with ephemeral trivia while basking in the adrenalin rush caused by meaningless events is not the characteristic activity of a superior mind. People who follow politics incessantly and argue heatedly about it at every opportunity may and often do think they are more intelligent and more public spirited than people who have that kind of interest in baseball or quilting; that belief marks a failure to understand how politics and power work. (Like so many vices it is excusable in the young and can even be a sign of budding promise; but like most vices it grows progressively less attractive as the years advance.)

Attractive, curmudgeon-wise.

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