Out of Control Policy Blog

Don't let a good crisis go to waste

In what may be one of the most telling comments by a senior advisor to President elect Obama yet recorded for public view, White House Chief of Staff elect Rahm Emanuel told the New York Times:

"You don't ever want a crisis to go to waste; it's an opportunity to do important things that you would otherwise avoid," Mr. Emanuel said in an interview. "In 1974 and 1978 we never dealt with it, and our dependence on foreign oil never changed."

In short, crises create the conditions necessary for the expansion of government, as Robert Higgs pointed out in his classic book Crisis and Leviathan.

By selecting Mr. Emanuel as his gatekeeper to the rest of the federal government, President Obama has surely recognized that the current economic conditions have created a window of political opportunity unknown to any presidential candidate since the Great Depression--an unpopular minority party, commanding control of both houses of Congress by the dominant party, control of the White House, and domestic conditions primed for accepting new policies, even if they undermine long-held values.

Samuel Staley is Research Fellow


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