Economics

My Heroes Have Always Been Killjoys

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Matt Welch has replied ably to Jacob Weisberg's latest sneer at libertarianism. I have just one point to add, about this passage near the end of Weisberg's piece:

The worst thing you can say about libertarians is that they are intellectually immature, frozen in the worldview many of them absorbed from reading Ayn Rand novels in high school. Like other ideologues, libertarians react to the world's failing to conform to their model by asking where the world went wrong. Their heroic view of capitalism makes it difficult for them to accept that markets can be irrational, misunderstand risk, and misallocate resources or that financial systems without vigorous government oversight and the capacity for pragmatic intervention constitute a recipe for disaster.

The "heroic" view of capitalism may well be popular among high school Randites. But what serious adult libertarian, whether or not he went through a Rand phase, argues that markets run on heroism? We argue that markets are a discovery process filled with trial and error; that businesses misunderstand risks and misallocate resources all the time, and that this is why we need market discipline to keep them in line. Instead of that discipline, during the lead-up to the current crisis, they received first a gushing river of subsidized credit and then a series of bailouts.

When you don't believe in the heroic corporate chieftain, it should be equally hard to put your faith in that alternative fantasy, the heroic regulator: neutral and public-spirited, always attuned to market failure, constantly prepared to right the ship of commerce. Instead we favor a decentralized system of checks and balances, of which the most important are the checks imposed by an open, competitive marketplace. Not because it's heroic, but because it can ruthlessly cut a would-be hero down to size.

NEXT: The Constitution: "At least as easy to understand as a cell phone contract—and vastly more important."

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  1. When you don’t believe in the heroic corporate chieftain, it’s equally hard to put your faith in that alternative fantasy, the heroic regulator: neutral and public-spirited, always attuned to market failure, constantly prepared to right the ship of commerce.

    My ears are burning…

  2. Do you think that it would have been politically feasible to not have a bailout? If not, then I doubt all the theories of free markets would have been able to help.

  3. I hate “know-it-all” liberals. They think they are smart and somehow magically government is smart.

    Government is dumb and they are dumb. They want their fairy-godmother government to come wipe their ass for them because they don’t know how to do it themselves.

  4. Do you think that it would have been politically feasible to not have a bailout?

    Sure looked politically feasible when the House voted it down.

  5. Jesse,

    Yes, I was happily surprised by that as well. Let me put it this way. Do you think there are enough politicians that WON’T be bought off to prevent them from bailing out these “too big to fail” banks?

    (Although, hopefully, this ‘small donors’ model will help to keep our representatives somewhat free from special interests.)

  6. “…makes it difficult for them to accept that markets can be irrational, misunderstand risk, and misallocate resources…”

    Markets irrational? Do guns kill people in his world, too?

    Wait, I already know…

  7. “The worst thing you can say about libertarians is that they are intellectually immature, frozen in the worldview many of them absorbed from reading Ayn Rand novels in high school.”

    Dude, if that’s the worst thing you can say about libertarians, you’re not hanging out on the Hit & Run boards.

  8. Rand is such a mixed bag. On the one hand, she wrote an essay about big business as a persecuted minority. On the other, “Atlas Shrugged” is filled with decidedly unheroic businessmen who collaborate with the government for subsidies and protection from competition, up to the point of being complicit in their own nationalization — much like the financial sector at present.

    Ironically, while a lot of libertarians skip over Galt’s speech (because we’ve heard it all before), that seems to be the only part of “Atlas” that Rand’s critics bother to read. Well, except for maybe the sex scenes.

  9. I guess Matt has never heard of the Austrian concept of the market as a perpetual process (vs equilibrium). Or of either Friedman & Schwartz’s prescriptions for stable growth, or the Austrian view of business cycles. Or of creative destruction. Or the concept of the market as an adaptive complex system. Or even of economic behavioral processes. Not to mention spontaneous organization, self-organization and evolutionary emergence. Or perhaps he’s not familair with the economic calculation problem and Hayek’s fatal conceit & road to serfdom, not to mention Friedman’s illustrations of the futility of market intervention.

    Yeah, but he’s an expert on libertarianism.

  10. “Instead we favor a decentralized system of checks and balances, of which the most important are the checks imposed by an open, competitive marketplace.”

    The inability of libertarians to articulate the substance behind this quote in meaningful and ordinary ways — rather than with seemingly self-evident confidence — is probably why the Weisberg’s of the world feel they can make such sweeping generalizations.

  11. LnGrrrR: Apparently there aren’t!

    Sanchmo: I assume you meant to say “Weisberg,” not “Matt.”

  12. … markets can be irrational, misunderstand risk, and misallocate resources …

    Oh my God! The markets are People!!!!

  13. Markets aren’t people. Soylent Green is People!!!!

  14. I’ve found non libertarians to be too squeamish at young ages about teaching people to help themselves, and then when they are older they feel secretly ashamed of how stupid they were in supporting government dependency schemes and also decide to get back their tax money via government grants.

    Pussies running through life pretending their herd mentality is true deep thought of the issues.

    No wonder so many people have ill behaved children.

  15. My new libertarian hero is this guy:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/oct/18/banking-useconomy

    “All of this behaviour supporting the aristocracy only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America.”

    Lahde became one of the biggest names in the investment industry when one of his funds produced a return of 866% last year, largely by forecasting the US home loans industry would collapse.

    In his farewell letter, which concluded with an appeal for the legalisation of marijuana, Lahde said he was happy with his rewards and did not envy those who had made even more money.

  16. Rand is such a mixed bag.

    Who you calling a bag, you limp-wristed fruit?

  17. Government is dumb and they are dumb. They want their fairy-godmother government to come wipe their ass for them because they don’t know how to do it themselves.

    The villain/fool obsession is just the flip side of faith in heroes, and people who give into it are the most deluded of all.

  18. Is it me or do critiques of libertarianism always seem to include a mention of libertarians reading ayn rand while in high school? Did he also mention libertarians’ ‘whiteness’ and something about mothers’ basements?

  19. I’m almost certain that half of you don’t have jobs and are posting from either your parents’ basement or a college dormitory.

  20. Who you calling a bag, you limp-wristed fruit?

    Let me put it this way: When I think of Ayn Rand, I always mentally cast Helen Mirren in the role, which improves the thought of Rand writing her sex fantasies into her fiction immensely.

  21. When you don’t believe in the heroic corporate chieftain, it should be equally hard to put your faith in that alternative fantasy, the heroic regulator: neutral and public-spirited, always attuned to market failure, constantly prepared to right the ship of commerce.

    It’s not about faith or outcomes for these people, it’s about the sense of control, control of other people’s lives. They could care less if regulation actually works or not.

  22. Faith in the villain is no different than faith in the hero, Jerry.

  23. joe, please let “concerned observer” know that you have a job and are not posting from your parents’ basement and/or college dormitory.

  24. But idiotface, I’m a liberal.

    What good would it do to tell him that I’m posting from the coffee bar of a large bookstore?

    😉

  25. Actually, idiotface, if you hang around these threads long enough you’ll find that joe is quite insightful and keen at finding flaws in arguments. I’m not always sure if his tendency to come off as a royally pompous prick are intentional or incidental, but regardless he functions well as a check against the worst excesses of libertarian fervor.

    If only there were a way to implement him as some kind of bloated government regulatory agency.

  26. Whenever government failure destroys lives and wealth, we can easily become frustrated as we see the crisis blamed on freedom itself. Gun control fails to stop a massacre, and the freedom to own guns is attacked. Narco-terrorism claims the lives of many, and we hear the problem is not enough law enforcement against drugs. Destructive intervention follows destructive intervention, always in the name of erasing whatever allegedly dysfunctional liberty remains.

    Jacob Weisberg has an unbelievably asinine article blaming the Wall Street collapses on libertarianism. We who believe in individual liberty supposedly brought on this recession. Specifically, the country has “narrowly avoided a global depression and is mercifully pointed toward merely the worst recession in a long while. This is thanks to a global economic meltdown made possible by libertarian ideas.” Thus the collapse signals “The End of Libertarianism.”

    It is hard to grasp that someone could actually believe this. At first, we might be tempted to assume the author of the above nonsense is being deeply and deliberately dishonest. But perhaps sheer intellectual error could suffice to explain the problem.

    Surely, libertarians have not exactly been in charge of the state. Indeed, it would be a contradiction to say that we have – insofar as the state is libertarian, it ceases to be a state. Yet somehow, America’s $3-trillion federal government – the largest state in our planet’s history – is associated with free enterprise in the minds of confused pundits, left and right. But every single dollar spent by that government is of course a dollar that has nothing to do with free enterprise.

    Anyone under fifty who went to public school probably remembers this lesson: We used to have laissez-faire, and it caused great inequality, poor working conditions and bank panics, so we had the Progressive Era and the creation of the Federal Reserve. But we still had too much economic liberty and it (not the Federal Reserve) brought on a Stock Market bubble that burst in 1929, so we had the New Deal, the FDIC, national economic planning and the like. While that didn’t quite end the Depression then (perhaps World War II did?), it did guarantee that we would never have one again. Thanks to government interventions from Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt to Lyndon Johnson, our modern economy will never have the troubles it did in the 1930s. Central banking and millions of pages of federal regulation keep this economy afloat and comfortably growing.

    Now all of a sudden the statists claim we are having the same kinds of troubles, and once again it’s all the free market’s fault – the same free market they said no longer exists, due to decades of intervention. It’s the freedom to buy and sell, to contract with one another, to exchange within a framework of free association, free pricing and property rights that has, once again, brought on economic calamity. Not the century of interventions that they said have guaranteed no such catastrophe would ever again happen. No, the remaining pockets of liberty are at fault.

    Of course, we libertarians have our own ideas about what went wrong. Weisberg brushes off libertarian critiques of the Community Reinvestment Act* and Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac – two examples of government intervention that helped bring on this mess.

    To such critiques, Weisberg has a very typical response:

    Academic Marxists were never going to be convinced that anything that happened in the real world could invalidate their belief system. Utopians of the right, [sic] libertarians are just as convinced that their ideas have yet to be tried, and that they would work beautifully if we could only just have a do-over of human history. Like all true ideologues, they find a way to interpret mounting evidence of error as proof that they were right all along.

    Indeed, one problem with a mixed economy is that if you do not logically examine the theoretical arguments for and against economic freedom – if you rely only on empiricism – you can never determine what is the cause or solution to any large problem. Both libertarianism and pure socialism are indeed non-falsifiable, in the sense that neither has been tested 100%. But empiricism is not the only means by which to find the truth.

    Theory is crucial. Theory is what allows one to come up with ways to explain the world as he is perceiving it. Much can be learned about a theory through a priori reasoning. When someone says the biggest government in the world represents the absence of government, or that politicians and bureaucrats made the wrong decisions because they had a “libertarian” ideology that was skeptical of their ability to make the right decisions, you know something doesn’t add up. When they associate Bush’s government with laissez-faire, when it has been much less so even than Clinton’s, and blame its non-existent deregulation, you know their argument is inherently incoherent.

    Those who have embraced sound free-market economics have been warning about the housing bubble, the impending problems with the dollar, and the precarious nature of our financial system for a long time. The only libertarian in Congress, Ron Paul, said this more than five years ago on the House floor:

    If Fannie and Freddie were not underwritten by the federal government, investors would demand Fannie and Freddie provide assurance that they follow accepted management and accounting practices.

    Ironically, by transferring the risk of a widespread mortgage default, the government increases the likelihood of a painful crash in the housing market. This is because the special privileges granted to Fannie and Freddie have distorted the housing market by allowing them to attract capital they could not attract under pure market conditions. As a result, capital is diverted from its most productive use into housing. This reduces the efficacy of the entire market and thus reduces the standard of living of all Americans.

    Despite the long-term damage to the economy inflicted by the government’s interference in the housing market, the government’s policy of diverting capital to other uses creates a short-term boom in housing. Like all artificially-created bubbles, the boom in housing prices cannot last forever. When housing prices fall, homeowners will experience difficulty as their equity is wiped out. Furthermore, the holders of the mortgage debt will also have a loss. These losses will be greater than they would have otherwise been had government policy not actively encouraged over-investment in housing. . . .

    . . . Congress should act to remove taxpayer support from the housing GSEs before the bubble bursts and taxpayers are once again forced to bail out investors who were misled by foolish government interference in the market.

    Ron Paul, like all principled libertarians, has also been very critical of the Federal Reserve. He has taken on Alan Greenspan and then Ben Bernanke for years. In the presidential debates, he was considered a fringe figure for his prescient warnings about economic bubbles and the coming systematic problems with Fed inflation. When he said our monetary system was basing its money and credit on nothing, the mainstreamers chuckled. So now the mainstream is catching on, we libertarians are criticized for having been right? For having not been in power?

    In fact, Weisberg seems to ignore how incoherent it is to blame the Federal Reserve’s economic meddling on libertarianism. Indeed, he faults Greenspan for believing in “market fundamentalism,” and being someone who “openly calls himself a libertarian.”

    Can the author not see the pure absurdity of what he’s implying? No libertarian could long be the Fed chairman, for the position is intrinsically unjust and the agency is at constant war with economic liberty. It is the chief counterfeiting and looting institution within the U.S. government. You can no more be a libertarian Fed chief than a libertarian drug czar.

    Libertarians have considered the Fed one of our greatest enemies for a long time – forty-five years ago, Murray Rothbard explained how it brings on the business cycle and how, in particular, it led to the market crash of ’29. Ron Paul and many writers at this site, the most widely read libertarian opinion site in the world, have been warning about the Fed’s real estate bubble for years. See especially Mark Thornton, and then come back to us and blame the current downturn on our ideas.

    But Weisberg really shows his hand with this remarkable statement: “As with the government failures that made 9/11 possible, neglecting to prevent the crash of ’08 was a sin of omission.”

    A sin of omission? Excuse me?

    It was not a sin of government “omission” that funded radical Islamists in Afghanistan, waged a brutal war on Iraq in the early 90s that left U.S. troops on Muslim holy land and imposed sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, and gave one-sided support to Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians. Say what you will about the morality of these acts, but U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East has been a continuous string of sins of commission since 1953, when a CIA-backed coup overthrew a democratically elected Iranian leader and replaced him with the Shah. U.S. foreign policy was anything but inactive before 9/11, and the terrorists sure don’t attack Americans because their government doesn’t go to war or spy on people. See Robert Pape and Michael Scheuer on why they attack us: Ron Paul and the libertarians have also been warning about the consequences of foreign intervention in the form of terrorism, well before 9/11.

    What we really see in Weisberg’s approach toward economic collapse and 9/11, both of which he blames on not enough government, is that he, like all who see the world in this way, is no less ideological than we are. He is not bold enough to be a Marxist, nor is he one of us. But he is no less committed to ideas than we are. For him, it is the idea of the managerial, modern, democratic state as protector, guarantor of national safety, stabilizer of the economy. So when the economy flops, revealing the colossal folly of five generations of government intervention, he must blame freedom and say we need the state to do more. And when terrorists attack, showing the utter disaster of trusting an imperialist trillion-dollar empire and security state to keep us safe at home from anyone determined to hijack a plane and cause mayhem, it must be because the government simply did not do enough. It is this mentality that is truly utopian, for it seeks to create a world though state planning and violence that is somehow more equal, more rational, more stable and perfect than what people can do through peaceful and voluntary cooperation and honest competition. Whenever anything goes wrong, no matter how big and active the state, the answer is always more state power.

    When statists attack libertarianism for their own disasters, we need not take it personally. They are not attacking the few libertarians with some political pull like Ron Paul. They are not attacking libertarians with real government power because we reject such power and none of us wield any. They are instead attacking our ideas – freedom itself – and defending the state. It is an act of desperation, actually. They see the state under attack, their beloved bailout distrusted by the masses, and so they strike at us, the principled minority, because they fear we have the answers people will seek when their cherished state eventually fails to instill confidence anymore. We, who unlike the statists on the left and right can honestly wash our hands of the disasters on Wall Street, war and terrorism, are their scapegoat in a world gone wrong under their management.

    This is not the end of libertarianism. It is only the beginning. And we have only begun to fight.

    *According the Weisberg’s Slate, criticism of CRA “blames the credit crisis on poor minority homeowners” – not just on the policy, but on the poor themselves. Yet Weisberg seems to favor the bailout, a wholesale looting of the poor to prop up the rich. Fair-weather egalitarianism, indeed.

  27. You can no more be a libertarian Fed chief than a libertarian drug czar.

    Really? So if you were offered the position tomorrow, you would resign rather than affect policies about drugs at the margin that would actually, y’know, help victims of the WoSD?

  28. Mr Gregory:
    I respectfully submit that if you kept your long, long, long posts to your own blog then everybody could ignore them without scrolling and scrolling and scrolling down the page just to see that some idiot lightly chastised you for being such a bore.

  29. Didn’t read it, don’t care to.

    However, one of the funny things about libruhtarians is that they keep engaging in completely fake economics. In the case of the topic I cover, they try to use obviously biases studies to show that MassiveImmigration is an economic boon or at least doesn’t lead to large losses.

    However, their “economic” studies completely fail to take into account all costs, both financial and non-financial.

    They’re hacks at best, traitorous charlatans at worst (or at least close to worst).

    P.S. Perhaps I missed Jesse Walker’s response to my requests that he back up his smear of me.

  30. Anthony Gregory, would you go into an indefinitely long state of depression if I said that nobody gives a shit? Because I really, really hope so.

  31. Didn’t read it, don’t care to.

    Wow, you feel just like how we do whenever we read something you’ve written!

  32. “Really? So if you were offered the position tomorrow, you would resign rather than affect policies about drugs at the margin that would actually, y’know, help victims of the WoSD?”

    yeah, really. I would call a press conference, state my arguments about how the war on drugs is immoral, unconstituional, and harmful and then I would resign.

  33. Good post.

    And TAO, does the drug czar affect policies much if they are against the policies of the administration at the time? I mean, when the Surgeon General said masturbation is healthy she got fired.

  34. P.S. Perhaps I missed Jesse Walker’s response to my requests that he back up his smear of me.

    There was no “smear,” but setting that aside: Yes, you missed it.

    By the way: Since when did you, of all people, object to smears? Physician, heal thyself.

  35. hey.. i read it, and found it more interesting than most of the other idiotic bullshit floating around here. thanks anthony gregory. ols you are a true douchebag. immigrants illegal and legal support our countries infrastructure, the problem is with our IMMIGRATION LAW. you incredible moron

  36. Actually I found gregory’s post interesting and even inspiring. I wish he did have his own blog.

  37. Well, I think it’s important to acknowledge the kernel of truth in Weisberg’s mostly mistaken analysis: A regime with bailouts and easy credit COMBINED with lax regulation is the worst of all possible worlds. It’s the fake libertarians like Greenspan, Kudlow, etc. who get libertarianism blamed for this mess, because what they really work for is the oligarchs. IF you’re going to guarantee home mortgages, THEN you’d better regulate lending practices tightly!

  38. Libertarianism will never die! Nothing that has no concrete existence outside the bony confines of its adherents’ skulls can die! Long live Libertarianism! Keep the faith!

  39. Definitely a valuable post, Anthony. It seems at the heart of Jacob Weisberg argument is a Centrist Anti-intellectualism — we hold the power, and have been tested through experience, so, therefore, your theories about how the world works is only that, theories and dreams.

    However, what social forces got the Jacob Weisbergs where they are? Adherence to an ideology that stresses the betterment of the human race, the practical every day governance
    that tempers the animal spirits of the people, or is this a veneer to justify something entirely different, a metastasis of central power and authority that ultimately makes the citizen as indebted and dependent on the actions of that central authority as the serfs of pre-emancipation Russia were to entitled nobles?

    The house my dad purchased and paid off within three years at a similar income that I have now, adjusted for inflation, would take me at least fifteen. The hospital bills for scrapes and broken bones I received as a little fella (from riding a dirt bike) in the seventies paid out of the wallet at the front desk by my pop could not possibly be paid for by similar means today. I paid for college through Summer
    and part time jobs in the nineties without a dime for tuition from my parents, from the prices I’ve seen in the school catalogs they still send that doesn’t look like a feasible alternative any longer.

    There are those who would naturally scoff at the comparison I make in the second paragraph of a well off American citizen to that of a serf trapped in the debt structure of Czarist Russia, but you need to understand, the things I listed occurred over one generation, it does not bode well for the future, the conditions you measure your life by today are by no means static, and the people of Russia did not become serfs overnight, but over generations where they inherited the debts imposed upon their fathers.

  40. Let’s face it: Ayn Rand is a terrible writer with second-rate ideas.

    The heroes of libertarianism were always those who founded the USA, and guys like Ron Paul.

    Not some second-rate, supersimplified Nietzsche ripoff.

  41. Their heroic view of capitalism makes it difficult for them to accept that markets can be irrational, misunderstand risk, and misallocate resources or that financial systems without vigorous government oversight and the capacity for pragmatic intervention constitute a recipe for disaster.

    Now on the other hand, the author’s heroic view of central economic planning makes it difficult for him to accept that governments can be irrational, misunderstand risk, and misallocate resources or that financial systems with vigorous government oversight and intervention always lead to painful market corrections.

    I guess it all comes down to a difference in world views: do you believe in people acting voluntarily, or do you worship at the altar of the Almighty Gum’mit.

  42. He’s right.

    I came to Libertarianism with a keen interest, and an open mind, and I still find Libertarian discussions far more interesting than most others, but many Libertarians do come across as intellectually immature, if not often outright anti-intellectual. I understand some of the complaints, but it often goes too far. It seems to be derived from the inability to deal with criticism.

    The righteousness that many Libertarians apply to their arguments renders much of the outside world incompatible with their culture. It’s an act of self-marginalizing; an echo chamber mentality.

    They snark far too much, cherry pick with the best of them, and often show signs of cult-like thinking. It’s one of the reasons why Ayn Rand was able to galvanize a relatively small group of them so easily. Call it a cult of personality, or group-think. Whatever the description, they’re not above it.

    Libertarianism is best used as a emergency break when debating political action, and reminding people about that little piece of paper.

    However, Libertarianism applied in any strict form would more than likely be a disaster that resulted in more regulations, and public distrust.

    Most of the Libertarians I have known have either been Investment Bankers/Economists, disgruntled Republicans, or IT guys.

    That’s not a group of people who are commonly known for their humility.

    I find this place both compelling, yet inhabited by many unhappy people who breed negativity. The same effect can be experienced on Skeptics forums, where there have even been discussions about how Skepticism makes many of them unhappy.

    I see the same type of atmosphere on here.

    Although, I will say that Hit & Run posters can be far funnier than most.

    I guess they have to be, or else they would combust.

  43. “Oh my God! The markets are People!!!!”

    Why not?

    Aren’t corporations?

    Cherry picking.

  44. TallDave posted:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/oct/18/banking-useconomy

    That’s brilliant.

    It’s going on my wall.

  45. Famous Mortimer:
    One of the central libertarian points is that “Oh my God. Governments are people!”

    The question is more about whether you think people with power are more corruptible than people with money. At least in the free market when someone wants to get you to do something, he has to persuade you with money. When it’s the government, it’s the law, and you’ve got no choice, whether you like it or not.

    Liberals are fond of advancing this concept in international diplomacy – the carrot rather than the stick. Leftists do the same thing, though mainly because they just want to weaken the power of capitalist countries like the US (what Communist nation ever practiced “carrot” diplomacy?). For some reason when it comes to domestic affairs, though, the liberal side is all about beating people into submission with government fiat.

    One thing so few people seem to address is really how deeply inconsistent so many positions on the left-liberal side of the spectrum actually are. I came to libertarianism largely because the philosophy isn’t a morass of internal inconsistencies and hypocrisies. (i.e. “anti-war” protestors running around in Che Guevara T-shirts.)

  46. Why do I have the feeling that Jacob Weisberg’s hero is Ellsworth Toohey?

  47. “frozen in the worldview many of them absorbed from reading Ayn Rand novels in high school”

    I’ll have you know that I’m frozen in a worldview I got from reading Hienlien in high school.

    Wanker!

  48. Anthony Gregory, your post was great. Not sure where the animosity came from, unless it was prompted simply by the length.

  49. what serious adult libertarian, whether or not he went through a Rand phase,
    argues that markets run on heroism?

    Markets run on the very unheroic and mundane acts of all the people that make up the base of the pyramid, but there often are heroes at the very top. They’re the ones with the vision and drive and willingness to risk their own cash on an idea. If the snarky do-nothings here can’t see them, they’re not looking very hard, or they’ve never cracked a history book.

  50. Lefiti | October 21, 2008, 12:17am | #
    Libertarianism will never die! Nothing that has no concrete existence outside the bony confines of its adherents’ skulls can die! Long live Libertarianism! Keep the faith!

    OH JOY! THE EDWEIRDOOOO HAS SPOKEN. WE SHALL KEEP THE FAITH AND FOLLOW THE SHOE, JUST AS YOUR BIDDING…

    OH. you were being sarcastic. oh. i see. it was a slam against libertarianism. oh.

    /sulks off

  51. Anthony Gregory-

    Great post!

  52. “… frozen in the worldview many of them absorbed from reading Ayn Rand novels in high school.”

    I didn’t read Atlas Shrugged until I was 55 years old. I think I enjoyed it a lot more than any high school student could because the book distills a lot of what’s been going on over the 25 years I’ve seen here in Washington. A couple a weeks back, when Paulson and Congressional types where driving caravans down Constitution Ave back and forth between the Treasury, White House and Capitol Hill, I and a work mate would call out: “There go the Looters again.”

  53. Next time, Anthony (or whoever is posting in his name) can just post the link.

  54. Dear Famous Mortimer:

    The two biggest philanthropists/humanitarians in the history of the world are an IT guy and an investment banker, respectively.

    Piss off.

  55. in retrospect, I should have said “boor,” although when I wrote it, I meant “bore.”

    Eh, a little of both.

  56. Saying markets “can be” irrational is like saying water flowing downhill is irrational.

  57. I came to Libertarianism with a keen interest, and an open mind, and I still find Libertarian discussions far more interesting than most others, but many Libertarians do come across as intellectually immature, if not often outright anti-intellectual. I understand some of the complaints, but it often goes too far. It seems to be derived from the inability to deal with criticism.

    again, i think some of this is pedigree (some of it is merely human nature; lord knows immature conservatives and liberals seem to make up a whole lot of the population) i.e. many libertarians come from american conservatism. higher education is seen as highly liberal, if not an outright marxist fourth column – see any thread here that mentions college for more details – and as such constitutes a kind of conspiracy against whatever values the poster tends to hold.

    i mean, in a perfect world, the randroids, the daily show liberals (living in nyc i have grown to hate them and their manufactured soundbites so), anyone who takes fox news seriously, the college socialists, authoritarian christian dominionists, authoritarian atheist domnionists and probably me would all be shot into the sun, but i don’t think you can viably have agriculture with only ten people left on the planet.

  58. Joe, you are the fool who thinks some all-knowing government with lots of power is better than a marketplace with lots of information and individuals making choices.

    That is foolish.

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