Wednesday, May 26, 2010
For the last week or so, I've spent time debating the issues of the day on blogs other than One Drop. Part of this is wanting to hear other perspectives; another is trying to figure out how I feel about issues like the BP oil spill, Rand Paul, and Libertarians.
Libertarianism. This appears to me to be a critically flawed philosophy. If, as many of its adherents claim, it advocates the supremacy of the free market and minimal government intervention, I think not only will it run against long standing precedent (as is the case with Rand Paul and his Civil Rights Act private business claims); it will allow all sorts of catastrophes to occur under the assumption that the "market" either won't allow these catastrophes in the first place or will correct said catastrophes over time.
Society in this country is too large and diverse to run without laws, an active government, and regulations. What does libertarian philosophy have to say about child labor, prostitution, lynching, or pedophilia all of which require laws and government intervention to prevent abuses? Should we limit law and regulation in those areas and just let people do what they know is right? I don't think so. There's no way to unspill milk. Once a catastrophe occurs, the damage is done. Shrugging your shoulders and saying "well the market will fix this next time" doesn't help those who've been harmed.
Free market analysis seems to assume that companies given more control would take more care, but there is no reason to believe this is the case. In reality, companies' bottom line is profit. If it were profitable to take less precaution, a company would indeed take less precaution. For example lets say a mega company in the total free-market universe (let's call them Halliburton) owns multiple plots of ocean land (in the free market universe you can own ocean property). If it were profitable for Halliburton to spoil one of those plots (maybe to damage a competitor's abutting ocean property) then it very likely would. And that's assuming that everyone is on their best behavior as libertarians always seem to despite evidence to the contrary. I just don't see the libertarian world view working in reality and in fact I think it has done an enormous amount of harm in practice (See: derivatives as factor in economic downturn).
Libertarians I think go too far. Society needs a balance of freer market and government intervention to promote the public good.
(Hat tip: Gage Skidmore for image) Sphere: Related Content