What’s the biggest reason to object to the $700 billion bailout? No, it’s neither the upfront cost, nor the plan’s immense unpopularity among experts and rubes alike, nor the several sides of bacon that the now-signed version carried along with it, but rather the clear precedent that it sets for similar sorts of hurried and large-scale government intervention down the line. All along we were told that the reason the Paulson plan needed to be passed was that the reactive, one-crisis-at-a-time strategy that had been at work over the preceding months wasn’t doing enough: something big needed to happen, and happen quickly, to liquidify those assets and loosen up the flow of credit. But by all accounts, even to the degree that Paulson’s strategy turns out to be effective it’s not going to be enough on its own to halt the economic slowdown: and since we all now understand that the government’s job in such circumstances is to step right in and “do something”, there’s every reason to expect more of the same in the months and years to come. Oh, and if it isn’t effective? Well, then we’ll blame the stupid Bush administration (such fools, they, as of course we knew from the beginning) and try, try again. David Brooks’s technocratic dream is America’s new reality – it’s worked out great so far; who are we to question the wisdom of the establishment?