From the Troubled Asset Relief Program to the stimulus bill, from the auto bailout to health care reform, we’ve created a vast new array of public-private partnerships — empowering insiders at the expense of outsiders, large institutions at the expense of small ones, and Washington at the expense of state and local governments. Eighteen months after the financial crisis, the interests of our financiers, C.E.O.’s, bureaucrats and politicians are yoked together as never before.

A similar, quieter consolidation has taken place in the realm of national security. After campaigning against the Bush administration’s foreign-policy overreach, President Obama has retained nearly all of the war powers that George Bush took up in the wake of 9/11…

Taken case by case, many of these policy choices are perfectly defensible. Taken as a whole, they suggest a system that only knows how to move in one direction. If consolidation creates a crisis, the answer is further consolidation. If economic centralization has unintended consequences, then you need political centralization to clean up the mess. If a government conspicuously fails to prevent a terrorist attack or a real estate bubble, then obviously it needs to be given more powers to prevent the next one, or the one after that.