Some guy, Luke, an obvious supporter of big government, wrote an appallingly illogical letter to the editor in the Australian in response to an article by Julie Novak. I didn’t read this original article, I just found Luke’s comments disconcerting – and somewhat interesting.
What I interpret from Luke’s letter is that those in favour of our current levels of state control (like Luke) are looking for logical consistency in political theory and are seeking to satisfy their ethics.
This is the letter, I’ve typed my comments in wine red.
August 21, 2009 | 12 Comments
I’M willing to wager that Julie Novak (“No nudging, please”, Opinion, 18/8) felt tempted to use the libertarians’ favourite phrase: social engineering. She may as well have, and also gone on to deride compulsory education, the mandatory wearing of seat belts or indeed any laws that place even the slightest restrictions on the sanctity of individual freedom.
What’s so bad about any of that? Please explain. What’s wrong with using the term social engineering? Personally I’d use a harsher phrase: immoral force initiation.
I would also like to see some real evidence supporting her claim that the freest economies in the world are also most conducive to economic growth, social accord and personal happiness. This is simply not backed up by any peer-reviewed literature, which consistently indicates that nations where egalitarian social structure is emphasised (sometimes at odds with absolute individual freedom) rank highest on a range of indices related to health and happiness and, in the long run, also outperform their libertarian counterparts in economic growth.
Evidence. USA vs Soviet Union. Where’s your evidence?
The efficacy of free markets is backed up by mountains of peer reviewed economics articles. You are being dishonest Luke because a quick search would have educated you. Also, try the many right wing think tanks. They produce articles daily in Australia, the USA and many other countries.
What libertarian counterpoints? Apparently there are libertarian nations out there. News to me.
Luke is engaged in aggressive but totally empty assertion.
The term “market failure” is known to most policymakers by now but still seems conspicuously absent from Novak’s Friedmanite lexicon.
So what? Would you consider it a good argument, if I said, the term “government failure” is well known. You might, but you’d be wrong.
Sure, individuals learn from past consumption decisions when they are purchasing wine or buying a car. However, neglecting to protect or support individuals in situations where they are faced with decisions on, for instance, medical interventions, financial investment or daily lifestyle choices on caloric intake or smoking is absolutely facile.
Empty assertion again. In addition, Luke unwillingly admits here that “learning” is reduced in the face of state force. And Luke seems to think that people are capable of making choices about wine, but not about more crucial and important issues. This is absurd, people spend far more time pondering important things, and they would spend even more time if they had the freedom to act on their decisions. The more state control, the less learnt, the less thought and the less self responsibility. No way around that one.
Novak is simply peddling the mantra of thinly disguised Social Darwinism preferred by devotees of orthodox economic theory. In case she hadn’t noticed, this has now been thoroughly discredited, a fact even acknowledged by some of its formerly staunchest supporters (eg, Alan Greenspan).
Social Darwinism is used to imply that someone is benefitting at the expense of someone else. This is a misrepresentation of capitalism. Capitalism requires a legal system of individual rights so that property rights can be protected and so that all people can be protected from initiatiary force. Capitalism allows the trader principle to operate – good for you, good for me. In reality, it is governments that plunder and exploit people. People in a capitalist society survive by productivity or by charity if necessary. Government control of the economy necessarily does exactly what Luke is scared free markets do. Government by its very nature has to steal from some, in order to be able to “give” to others.
Then throw in the Greenspan name calling. Once again this paragraph is empty assertion. Greenspan was hardly objectivist or libertarian for that matter. He headed the government control of the money supply! Objectivists spoke out against Greenspan and he spoke out against free markets – over decades. It’s really quite telling when people have to use straw man arguments to make their case.
Luke is saying that free markets are bad because Alan said so. Wow what a great argument!
For once, I’d like to see these liberal acolytes bring their arguments to their logical conclusion by calling for the legalisation of illicit drugs, non-compulsory education and the abolition of any other laws that impinge on our supposed freedom. This would finally confirm that their standpoint is rooted in ideology as opposed to observed, empirical fact.
Here Luke again displays his ignorance with a straw man argument. Objectivists and many libertarians (literally thousands, possibly millions) proudly and loudly argue for the TOTAL abolishion of state education, health, welfare, infrastructure and more. The call to legalise illicit drugs is hardly new, and on this issue I’d say you could find millions of people around the world in favour of legalisation.
But the big winner here is when Luke accuses free market promoters for a standpoint rooted in ideology. Well Luke, every single person on the planet’s political views are rooted in some sort of ideology. So what? Are you implying a theory – practise dichotomy? This might actually be an interesting discussion.
However Luke, you have just identified yourself as a hypocrite, because in paragraph two, you clearly promote the ideology of egalitarianism.
In addition, Luke is clearly in favour of empiricism (the epistemological portion of his ideology at work). He again shows us that he is a hypocrite by not living up to his own standard of empirical evidence – because he supplies none.
I’m not sure if the Australian printed this letter just to show how bad the arguments of a typical supporter of state control are?
Anyhow, the Australian has printed an aggressive letter, containing obvious contradictions, that engages in empty assertion, straw man arguments and ad hominem. And that’s the state of the world we live in. It’s quite depressing.
Luke I think I genuinely feel sorry for you. But my real concern is that this standard of thought is common in our community. Luke appears well educated – at least he uses big words – but he’s still highly ignorant – and alarmingly opinionated considering this ignorance. Although I’m a little jealous. If I wrote such an illogical waste of words that took the other side and supported capitalism – there’s no way I’d get published. You should feel lucky Luke, that you even have the opportunity to display to the world your contradictory thinking and ignorance. Although you should also feel embarassed.
I will end this short piece by restating my second paragraph:
What I interpret from Luke’s letter is that those in favour of our current levels of state control (like Luke) are looking for logical consistency in political theory and are seeking to satisfy their ethics. And this exposes one of the problems with libertarian politics.
Objectivism satisfies. But Libertarianism does not. The only defining aspect of a libertarian is that libertarians want less government. Unfortunately most people don’t, and like Luke, they cannot conceive of some forms of privitisation – because for their whole life and most of human history, state or religious control dominated. Therefore a large change in politics is required. Meaning a change in ideology – something libertarians don’t want to touch. This is why I do not think a libertarian political party will gain power and why promoting Objectivism is time better spent to achieving a brighter future.