The Obama Outrages: Government as Black Swan

Black swans, as explained in the best-selling book by Nasem Taleb, are events so far out of the ordinary as to be massively disruptive because they can hardly be imagined, much less planned for. A recent example was the financial meltdown of 2008-2009 precipitated by securities that were thought to be safe and even “insured” (by the government, in many cases, in the guise of its mortgage packagers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac); a more recent example came last year when an earthquake and subsequent tsunami caused not only massive flooding but a nuclear disaster in Japan.

Note the distinction between these two examples, however; one was largely an outgrowth of government policy while the other was due to an act of God (or nature, or chance, as you prefer). What we’re seeing increasingly with the Obama administration is that black swan events are being manufactured and loosed upon us by our government itself. It’s no consolation that they’re coming in the name of the progressive agenda of “helping” us. It’s of even less consolation to consider that the president apparently believes he’ll have “more flexibility” to do as he pleases after November.

In the case of the fatal farm regulations what’s perhaps most shocking is that such a ham-handed attempt would have been made in the first place. Are there no adults at the Department of Labor to tell the juveniles “This isn’t going to fly, and would create huge problems for the president in an election year anyway. So get back in your room — now!” If the idea behind such moves isn’t disruption for its own sake — or to administer lessons on the power of the government to whatever it wants until we all “get it” — what is it?

In a recent Wall Street Journal column, Kimberly Strassel writes that Al Armendariz, the EPA procurator who was going to crucify oil and gas companies just to let them know who’s boss, is hardly the exception to the rule within the Obama administration but rather exactly the kind of federal enforcer the president wants. In other words, Obama considers him a feature — not a bug — in his plan to totally transform America.

But if she’s correct, that would mean that Obama-style government could no longer be considered a “black swan” machine. Why? Because these disruptions are planned, not random.

(Thumbnail on PJM homepage based upon a modified image.)