There is a piece on salon.com written by someone whose economic and political ignorance is so outstanding it borders on legitimate delusion, that I am not sure it is really worth the time to address. Unfortunately, it has become clear the author of this piece, Gabriel Winant, is not alone in his delusional understanding of the world and thus I will try and spend as little time as possible addressing his truly bizarre recent article.
The title of his piece is, "The lesson of Rand Paul: libertarianism is juvenile." Despite such a title he never even attempts an effort at demonstrating that Rand Paul has anything to do with his conclusion that libertarianism is juvenile. He touches on some recent criticism of Rand Paul stemming from his comments that not all of the civil rights legislation passed was appropriate.
Rand Paul is of course addressing the fact that government does not have the right to determine what private property owners do with their own property. Rand Paul never suggests that the Civil Rights legislation is a bad thing or should be repealed. Quite the contrary. He accurately understands that part of the reason the Civil Rights legislation is a good, is that it undoes government created evil. The entire reason we needed a Civil Rights Act to be passed was precisely to repeal all the GOVERNMENT-CREATED racist laws that were on the books. I always find it comical when historical ignoramuses proclaim of the greatness of the State by citing the Civil Rights Act when in reality that is actually one of the strongest arguments one can make for libertarianism. Start this video at the 3 minute and 8 second mark for some more comments on this area: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhgy0ymD-NI#t=3m08s
Go ahead and watch the clip, it is only 55 seconds long and worth seeing before reading this any further.
Let us now turn our attention to some interesting passages from Gabriel Winant's article that I think do a great job of reflecting just how close to legitimate delusional psychosis he is. It never ceases to amaze me seeing how fantastically polar opposite from reality one's understanding of the world around them is, while simultaneously they believe so strongly that they are right, that they have the gall to suggest it is lunacy to think otherwise. Let's take a look:
"To summarize very briefly a long and complicated process, we got capitalism in the first place through a long process of flirtation between governments on the one hand, and bankers and merchants on the other, culminating in the Industrial Revolution. What libertarians revere as an eternal, holy truth is in fact, in the grand scheme of human history, quite young. And if they'd just stop worshiping for a minute, they'd notice the parents hovering in the background."
It is hard to know where to begin. I suppose we should start with the fact that he simply just decided to rewrite the definition of capitalism to support his argument. I don't know exactly how to attack this. There appears to be two possible derailments on the train to logic here. Either he simply does not know what capitalism is (which is certainly quite possible) and thinks capitalism is the past 150 years of America or some other random abstract time period based on who knows what criterion; or his understanding of history is utterly flawed.
The reality of the situation of course is that the free market and capitalism existed since the first time one group of people focused on collecting berries to trade with the other group of people whom focused on hunting and acquiring meat. Capitalism which to be clear, is the free market, has existed since before recorded history. If you want to understand which allowed the other to be, there would never have been a civilization advanced enough for the monstrosity of government to be conceived had there not been capitalism. Capitalism continues to work in spite of government.
Government regulates, suppresses, and strangles productive enterprise. If one were to study history, the most rich and advanced societies, those places that serves the poor and middle class best are precisely those with as little government as possible. Think the most libertarian nation ever conceived for instance, United States of America. Take some time to read the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States of America and one might start to recognize there has never been a people who despised big government as much as Americans. It of course is no coincidence that for the first 150 years or so this libertarian country which proudly boasted less government than any other nation on the world, made room for capitalism to work and thus produced the most powerful and wealthiest nation in the world. Previously profitable (which is defined as being aptly able to meet the needs of consumers efficiently) businesses go bankrupt year after year as the ever increasing burden of adhering and paying for all forms of various entangling government regulation, not to mention direct taxation, strangle the lifeblood from them. Yet in spite of this, CAPITALISM prevails. Think WalMart, think of the Internet, satellite tv, cell phones so forth.
People tend to blame WalMart for the demise of the mom and pop store. There is a great documentary on this very topic called, "Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices." That documentary also reaches the conclusion that WalMart is to blame. Yet watch the video. If you do, you will find all the complaints sound a lot like, "I couldn't afford to keep paying the taxes and cost of getting a license was just too much etc etc." The free-market created WalMart precisely to cure the drought soon to be created as a result of government's strangulation on small businesses. In addition the corporate tax structure greatly benefit large corporations like Walmart as opposed to the mom and pop stores. Who is responsible for this? Are we still going to try and blame the free market for the demise of the mom and pop stores because the government created a set of rules (taxation) and gave the advantage to corporations? I mean how far on the crazy train does one have to go to not correctly asses blame where it belongs here. And that of course is squarely at the feet of government intervention.
"Get it? The government didn't just help make the "free market" in the first place -- although it did do that. It's also constantly busy trimming around the edges, maintaining the thing, keeping it healthy. The state can think ahead and balance competing interests in a way that no single company can."
I must bow and extend a tip of the hat to Mr. Gabriel Winant for this. I am truly impressed with his ability to get two different, yet both absolutely breathtakingly absurd and ass-backwards statements about the world in such a small space. And as the sign of all true ignoramuses makes such stupendously facetious claims with absolute certitude without even the slightest suggestions of attempting to validate them. I am now asking myself, why have I decided to even waste my time responding to such rubbish, but I suppose it's too late to stop now.
I am not even going to mock and/or correct his statement that the government created the free market. If any reader of this blog (all 3 of you!) thinks that is accurate, I can't imagine I could reach them anyway. I think every remotely thinking individual understands that property, trade, division of labor, and so forth existed well before government. I mean think about what he is saying. Man crawls out of the stone age. Man begins to hunt and gather. Man encounters other man with different gatherings. Trade emerges. Wait no! Government was hovering about them the whole time (disturbingly I want to say "like a God" but have just realized that Gabriel Winant and people whom think like him, probably really do feel the State is God.) and only until the Government decrees, "Let there be trade" were we fortunate enough to allow the oh-so benevolent State to have created the free market. Crazy pills for everyone I guess?
On to sentence two. I can't believe I somehow got sucked into defending an attack on libertarianism by a guy who genuinely does not know what capitalism or the free market is, and now apparently does not know what the State is. God I'm a sucker.
"The state can think ahead and balance competing interests in a way that no single company can."
I don't know if this is the single most incorrect statement arrogantly presented as fact in his article, but it has got to be up there. The State is not god. It is not an omniscient value-free morally superior entity. The State is a group of people. The only difference between the group of people whom comprise the State and those whom comprise the free-market is their respective motives. The people in the free-market have self-interest as their motive. The seek to make profit. Thankfully the only way profit can be made is by satisfying a great number of wants and desires of the people around you. Hmmm, this might be on to something here.
The group of people who comprise the State are also motivated by self-interest. Their political self-interest is a bit different in that they never need to turn a profit (remember this means serve the consumer efficiently) by producing any goods or services. Instead their self-interests are to get elected or re-elected. At which point thanks to outrageously corrupt and unfair salary and benefits structure they are financially compensated quite nicely with truly exceptional benefits and health care packages all of course paid by institutionalized theft via taxation.
He writes, he actually wrote "the state can balance competing interests." Yes, if by balance competing interests you mean serve those who lobby hardest and are most likely to aid in serving your political career best. Wow. I think I have to stop. It's so bad. Oh ya and then he ends his piece by saying libertarians are selfish and racist, just some not all guys!, and libertarianism as a philosphy is bratty.
I think he does a better job of insulting and embarrassing himself though his own words than I ever could.