The other week Robert Kuttner, co-founder of The American Prospect, put online his winter-issue rant, headlined "The Libertarian Delusion," featuring one of the better all-time Mad Libs lead paragraphs. I'll underline some words so you can see what I mean:
The stubborn appeal of the libertarian idea persists, despite mountains of evidence that the free market is neither efficient, nor fair, nor free from periodic catastrophe. In an Adam Smith world, the interplay of supply and demand yields a price that signals producers what to make and investors where to put their capital. The more that government interferes with this sublime discipline, the more bureaucrats deflect the market from its true path.
But in the world where we actually live, markets do not produce the "right" price.
So let's rewrite, changing the underlined words:
The stubborn appeal of the progressive idea persists, despite mountains of evidence that increased government intervention is neither efficient, nor fair, nor free from periodic catastrophe. In a John Maynard Keynes world, the federal goosing of aggregate demand yields economic growth that signals producers what to make and investors where to put their capital. The more that deregulation interferes with this sublime discipline, the more one percenters deflect the economy from its true path.
But in the world where we actually live, central planners do not produce the "right" economic growth.
See how easy that is?
When you start to view the increasingly crowded genre of anti-libertarian commentary as a formula into which any undergrad with a keyboard can add inputs, some clearly identifiable patterns emerge. Breaking the pieces down this way also makes them considerably more enjoyable, as in this latest screed from Salon:
Name: Conor Lynch, Salon
Welcome to "Libertarian Island": How these One Percenters are creating a dystopian nightmare
Take Ayn Rand, some tech billionaires and Rand Paul—and the result is a scary new movement. Here's their plan
Fanatical utopianism alert:
It is a utopian ideology, as was communism, that has an almost religious-like faith in the free market, and an absolute distrust of any government.
The stated fear:
The problem with self-regulation is that, consumers do not know what goes on at a corporation behind closed doors, so how would they force a company to act ethically if they are not aware of their misdeeds.
The more plausible fear:
While overall, Silicon Valley still supports the Democrats over Republicans, it would not be surprising to see a shift in the coming years. The libertarian philosophy is very attractive to those who worship technology and entrepreneurship, which is nearly all of the techies. And with millions of potential campaign dollars coming out of the valley, it could very well be a problematic territory for liberals in the future.
(Heavily disputed) history proves it:
More recently, the lack of regulation in the financial industry, particularly in derivatives, contributed to one of the worst economic crises in history, and hurt many people in the process.
Mandatory Koch Brothers reference:
The famous oil billionaire Koch brothers, who are also fanatic libertarians, have knowingly avoided regulations, and have hurt people in the process.
Fragrantly terrible writing:
Had the government not gone after Google for privacy violations, users would have never known. Google and other tech companies have a constant crave for innovation over everything, and bypass things like privacy when they get in its way.
Deconstruct your own anti-libertarian screeds at home! (And please share in the comments….) Some other recent Reason commentary about our anti-libertarian friends on the left and right:
* Sheldon Richman, "Another Would-Be Critic of Libertarianism Takes on a Straw Man"
* Nick Gillespie, "Libertarians Will Never Be Successful Because EDWARD SNOWDEN"