The conservative blogosphere rings with alarums over Rahm Emanuel's statement last week that "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste . . . .Things that we had postponed for too long, that were long-term, are now immediate and must be dealt with. This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before."
The blog fear is that the various crises will serve as excuses for the expansion of government power. And so they might, but one should take a more optimistic view. The government already has immense power, much of which is being used badly. So if the crises focus attention on these areas, we are presented with a singular opportunity for reform.
In all the areas we care about at Convergence Law Institute -- intellectual property and the production of pharmaceuticals, preemption and legal reform, energy production, telecommunications regulation and net neutrality -- our side has, we think, the better of the arguments. So if the public is paying attention because of the crises, it becomes what is called in the education trade "a teachable moment."
The familiar saw is that the Chinese character for "crisis" is a mix of the characters for "danger" and "opportunity." This is apparently a bit of a myth, but the reason for its frequent citation that the underlying concept is true. Crises break up old structures of both thought and action, and open up new possibilities. Destruction, including destruction of ossified ideas, is a precondition of creation. So if the saw is not true, it should be.