In Defense of Excess

Are greedheads a sign of the economy's robust health?

Every political period has its characteristic form of scandal. During the Reagan defense buildup of the mid-1980s, the scandal of the day was "waste, fraud and mismanagement" at the Pentagon, symbolized by the infamous $640 toilet seat. Amid the general embarrassment and excusemaking, only one defense hawk was bold enough to declare that waste and fraud were actually good things. "We need more" of them, wrote Edward Luttwak in Commentary. If you're going to build a stronger defense and build it fast, a bit of corruption is a necessary by-product.

Today's characteristic form of scandal is financial abuse and excess....

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