Is US More Soviet than Russia?

The title is not designed to be provocative or even clever (I have surely been successful in avoiding the latter).  It just occurs to me that with the bailouts of our industry by our government, with the promise in today’s Wall Street Journal of a new multi-billion dollar wave of bond purchases by the Fed, with our National health reform legislation, with ever-incresing government regulation of business through OSHA, EPA and numerous other government agencies, and with the increased pace of regulation of corporate governance inherent in the Dodd Frank Act, are we moving towards a planned economy and away from open-ended capitalism?

When I teach in Russia, will I be teaching about a legal system that is a capitalism-friendly, or a hybrid system some elements of which may resonate historically with the law students there?

Should I be teaching about Dodd Frank, which is after all the most important Federal economic legislation in a very long time?  Is this statute part of the new definition of an evolved economic system, or an aberation in governance driven by a unique but transitory economic occurrence?

Should I teach about the new provisions of the law that create mandatory 10%-30% bounties for persons who whistle-blow illegal actions for which the SEC is able to collect penalties of $1Million or more?  What does that say about how we have established the rule of law for businesses?  (In the same issue of the WSJ, today, there is an article about a former employee who blew the whistle on Glaxo and will collect a bounty of $96Million — not an SEC case, but the same principles.)

Certainly a more mundane academic ciriculum will be easier to teach and, given language issues and cultural issues, easier to learn.  And I don’t propose to be a “shill” for our system, but rather to describe its important exportable elements.  It’s just that identifying those elements seems to be growing more, not less, elusive.

I could use some help from folks reading this blog; please let me have your thoughts.


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