David Brooks writes about the rise of “vehement libertarianism”. I’ll wear that badge with pride. It would also be a good blog name. As always, he’s grossly incoherent and totally divorced from facts. There’s so much idiocy crammed into so few words. Time to break out the machete of reason and cut this down. (Brooks in bold.)
The United States is becoming a broken society. The public has contempt for the political class.
Two sentences and he’s already wrong; could be a new record. The implication is that respect for the political class is required for a working society. The only time that’s ever been true has been when arbitrary authority could kill you. Then you’d better show some friggin’ respect or go to jail, or worse.
Public debt is piling up at an astonishing and unrelenting pace. Middle-class wages have lagged.
Who championed public debt? Wasn’t it … David Brooks? He’s a firm cheerleader for big-government policies; it’s either idiotic or hypocritical to think big-government = cheap.
Unemployment will remain high. It will take years to fully recover from the financial crisis.
Point. Brooks is a mental ballerina, dancing on the insanity curve with one big toe in the real world.
This confluence of crises has produced a surge in vehement libertarianism. People are disgusted with Washington. The Tea Party movement rallies against big government, big business and the ruling class in general. Even beyond their ranks, there is a corrosive cynicism about public action.
Despite what liberals and big-government Republicans claim, libertarianism and Tea Parties aren’t synonymous. There’s enough commonalities for a venn diagram, but not as much as Brooks and his ilk would like. With some serious caveats, I’ll concede those three gripes can sum up Tea Parties. Conversely, libertarians generally only care about the government problem; we object to big business when it’s supported by government. We object to ‘rulers’ who use arbitrary political power to remain on top, rather than earning a leading role through service or value-creation, in either business or public life.
But there is another way to respond to these problems that is more communitarian and less libertarian.
There are other ways to injure yourself besides falling down stairs. There are other ways to get arrested besides murder. There are other STD’s you can contract besides AIDS. He should add the word “shitty” before ‘way to respond’.
In case you don’t follow my drift, communitarianism is bullshit.
Blond argues that over the past generation we have witnessed two revolutions, both of which liberated the individual and decimated local associations. First, there was a revolution from the left: a cultural revolution that displaced traditional manners and mores; a legal revolution that emphasized individual rights instead of responsibilities; a welfare revolution in which social workers displaced mutual aid societies and self-organized associations.
Basic math. 1 + 1 + 1 = 2. I know Brooks is dumb, but this nugget also oozed past several NYT editors. Also, the ‘mutual aid societies and self-organized associations’ are exactly the kind of natural, non-coerced natural interest associations libertarians celebrate. Paragraph = pointless, possibly self-defeating.
A principal (and principled) objection to regulations and centralization is that the crowding out effects inevitably eliminate the self-selected communities that Brooks is supposedly championing. Mandates preclude alternatives. Evolutionary theory naturally implies that in social settings, alternatives will inevitably lead to progress. Regulations stifle progress, both socially and economically. The net benefits of regulation are entirely theoretical. Consider, again, the Enron scandal. Via Gladwell:
In late July of 2000, Jonathan Weil, a reporter at the Dallas bureau of the Wall Street Journal, got a call from someone he knew in the investment-management business. Weil wrote the stock column, called “Heard in Texas,” for the paper’s regional edition, and he had been closely following the big energy firms based in Houston—Dynegy, El Paso, and Enron. His caller had a suggestion. “He said, ‘You really ought to check out Enron and Dynegy and see where their earnings come from,’ ” Weil recalled. “So I did.”
. . .
Weil’s story ran in the Journal on September 20, 2000. A few days later, it was read by a Wall Street financier named James Chanos. Chanos is a short-seller—an investor who tries to make money by betting that a company’s stock will fall. “It pricked up my ears,” Chanos said. “I read the 10-K and the 10-Q that first weekend,” he went on, referring to the financial statements that public companies are required to file with federal regulators. “I went through it pretty quickly. I flagged right away the stuff that was questionable. I circled it. That was the first run-through. Then I flagged the pages and read the stuff I didn’t understand, and reread it two or three times. I remember I spent a couple hours on it.” Enron’s profit margins and its return on equity were plunging, Chanos saw. Cash flow—the life blood of any business—had slowed to a trickle, and the company’s rate of return was less than its cost of capital: it was as if you had borrowed money from the bank at nine-per-cent interest and invested it in a savings bond that paid you seven-per-cent interest. “They were basically liquidating themselves,” Chanos said.
I don’t object to filing public information in this way, but making the assumption that regulations are effective is ludicrous. A reporter and an EVIL WALL STREET VILLAIN cracked the Enron story. Back to Brooks.
The free-market revolution didn’t create the pluralistic decentralized economy. It created a centralized financial monoculture, which requires a gigantic government to audit its activities.
Because it wasn’t a free-market revolution. It was a freeing of markets, but arguing that any market in this country is even close to completely or ‘revolutionary’ free is disingenuous at best. You naturally can’t get long-term consolidation of service or goods without government coercion. Libertarians generally agree with liberals that these outcomes are wrong, but Libs fail to see that their policies bring out their disfavored consequences.