from Kevin Williamson at National Review, Capital Matters
It matters who owns capital. Go back to 1988 and give young Kevin D. Williamson $10 million, and the only results you’d have seen would be a good year for a Ferrari dealership somewhere in Texas and, a few days later, a nice commission for a Manhattan realtor willing to do business with a 16-year-old. Go back and invest that $10 million with Marc Andreessen and you might have had the great Internet-driven business revolution of the turn of the century a decade earlier, with economic consequences that would have been literally beyond calculation. Go back to the 1970s and invest that money with Julio Palmaz and the history of cardiac care would probably look a good deal different. Imagine what Henry Ford could have done with the money we’ve pissed away on the incompetents at General Motors.
We see dead capital around us all the time: the suburban black holes of derelict shopping malls, failed big-box stores, block after block of abandoned housing in cities such as Philadelphia and Baltimore. Sometimes those facilities are kept dead by conservatives’ favorite villain: regulation, especially overzealous planning-and-zoning regimes that prevent the rehabilitation of commercial and residential properties. Sometimes, we have government outright propping up firms (General Motors, bailed-out banks) or industries (Senator Rubio’s beloved sugar teat) without ever taking account of what the real cost of doing so is: lost investment. Not the ledger cost, but the opportunity cost.