The same balance of government control and private nominal ownership is evident in the mortgage rescue plan and the efforts to rekindle consumer lending. It will be manifest in the cap and trade legislation and in the priority that the administration will accord to green lending and job creation.
The strong-arming that obviously led up to the Chrysler deal will also be typical of the Obama industrial policy. When the chips are down, JFK's pressure on U.S. Steel to lower its prices in 1962 will be the model for the Obama years. While terrorists need not fear any violation of their constitutional rights, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies will not be so fortunate.
At the core of the new policy will be the simple assumption that Washington knows best.
But it doesn't. The stagnation of the Japanese economy in the past 20 years is eloquent testimony to the fact that government usually gets it wrong. Sometimes it makes the wrong decision because it fails to anticipate the market (as Japan did when it downplayed laptop computers and stressed mainframes). More often (as is normal in Japan), it is so in the thrall of special interests that it ends up articulating a consensus of those who would divide up the pie among them.
One way or another, the government usually runs the economy into the ground, as it will under King Barack I.