Tag Archives: free market

I’m Disappointed with Scientific American

Standard

In the December 2015 issue of Scientific American, Naomi Oreskes writes,

For the past 30 years the ideology of the unfettered marketplace has so dominated our discourse that most of use can scarcely imagine an alternative way of organizing our affairs. Individuals who try are dismissed as unrealistic, romantic, polemical or (in America) communists.

Like many others, she cites the 2008 financial crisis as the result of “deregulated capitalism” and the blames the Great Depression on “market failure.” She goes on to cite other favorite complaints of those with an anti-market ideology, such as inequality or the environment.

It seems that no matter how much the government will intervene into the economy, the “unfettered,” “deregulated” market will always be the alleged culprit. Indeed, Ms. Oreskes acknowledges the “spectacular government intervention” apparatus that was created after the Great Depression. How can she believe that with the modern regulatory state that creates thousands of new regulations every year that the US economy can accurately be described as laissez-faire? I can see one making an argument that perhaps the currently existing regulatory scheme for various sectors of the economy do not have the optimal rules or that certain regulatory agencies are under-powered. But at what point will the US economy have to be regulated in order for people like Ms. Oreskes to classify them as non-free market?

Furthermore, what I find particularly ironic about Ms. Oreskes’ article (which is called “How to Break the Climate Deadlock” but reads more like an anti-market diatribe) is that she does nothing to reassure those who question the efficacy of government efforts to abate the effects of climate change that their concern is unwarranted. Near the beginning of her essay, she makes a reference to those who suspect that empowering supranational governments to implement grand plans to combat climate change might significantly impact their freedom.However, instead of addressing their concerns (which I think would be more in line with breaking “the climate deadlock”), she seems to confirm them. Instead of explaining how people’s lives wouldn’t need be dramatically changed or how the power of the state wouldn’t need to be greatly expanded, she writes of how we “can scarcely imagine an alternative way of organizing our affairs.” She throws in the red herring of how the absence of state authority “opens the door to tyranny and tragedy.” The title of her article led me to believe that she was going to attempt to bridge the gap and try to foster a legitimate dialogue with those with differing opinions than her own. Her essay did not seem like one written by a level-headed scientist trying to find areas of agreement about climate policy, but an ideologue that should be relegated to the opinion section.

 

“What Can Men Do Against Such Reckless Hate?”

Standard

One of the many lines I remember from the Lord of the Rings movies is when King Theoden asks, “What can men do against such reckless hate?” This now comes to mind after reading a piece on LewRockwell.com. This is what the interviewee, Ron Holland, says:

“I don’t mean to sound sexist here but any nation or people made up of fathers, husbands or lovers who are willing to stand aside and allow thugs and perverts to grope, feel up and intimidate their children, spouses or elderly parents without wholesale rebellion and resort to outrage and defense does not deserve to live free any longer.”

If it wasn’t obvious, the above quote refers to American airports. Now, I am not a frequent flyer, nor do I take flights where I can easily drive instead. But I am uncertain of what I should do as an individual to counteract what goes on in airport security. In particular, what does “wholesale rebellion” mean in this case? Generally, libertarians advocate using force in self-defense, but not for the end of achieving political revolution, so it is hard to imagine that Mr. Holland meant that. 

How does one resort to outrage and defense? I’ve obtained humorous bumper stickers regarding the TSA, everyone in my social circle knows of my dissatisfaction with federalization and monopolization of airport security, I have used DownsizeDC.org to contact some (I will not say “my” or claim to be represented in any way) representatives in the U.S. Congress to demand the TSA’s abolition, and please let me express my OUTRAGE right here in this blog. I am left with two questions: “What should I be doing to more efficiently express outrage or help abolish the TSA?” and “Do I not deserve to be free any longer?”

The dilemma we are presented with in the second question is a difficult one. What we can infer about a collective body of people from certain types of information? The information in this case is that the TSA exists in the U.S. and it does some unethical and degrading things, to say the least. What does this imply about the men living in the U.S.? Can we say that they “are willing to stand aside and allow thugs and perverts to grope, feel up and intimidate their children, spouses and elderly parents”? We cannot say all for that would be untrue. We can say it of some. Can we say it of the majority? This is an empirical question; the answer might well show that the politically unpopular, and yet morally disgusting, can very much exist in a representative democracy (assuming that is a fair characterization of the U.S. political system). 

But either way, I feel as though there are problems with Mr. Holland’s statement. Moral judgment is something reserved for individuals, not for groups (which are just collections of individuals). The husbands, fathers, etc. who do express outrage have not yet been rewarded with a change in government policy, though I wouldn’t consider them to undeserving of living free. Secondly, does lack of resistance imply that one deserves to be mistreated? If one is robbed by thugs but remains silent and compliant to avoid further abuse should we then say he or she deserved it? However, these might be minor quibbles. I can understand the sentiment of the sentence: there are enough sheep such that this garbage continues and those sheep are doing nothing to ease the burden now or in the future for themselves or others.

At any rate, I will do what I can to both be an example for the sheep, as well as inform people that there is an alternative to being someone else’s livestock.