Thursday, December 19, 2013


I don't rightly know, but here's what I said to one on facebook earlier tonight:

Matthew, it is completely clear to me that you are so deeply enmeshed in libertarian "philosophy" that it would take hours on end to even get you acknowledge that I might have a point. So I'm not even going to try. Instead, I've got a couple of simple observations.

The mythology you're espousing has been very popular for the last thirty years or so, by and large, because it fit very neatly several cultural and economic cross currents occurring after the sixties. Alienated Southern whites, whose Democratic Party had recently embraced civil rights, were picked up by the GOP, who were pushing the "welfare queen" mythology in order to appeal to pre-existing racist sentiment. Within a very short span of time, government assistance went from popular to unpopular once the symbolic face of welfare became black instead of white--all those lazy black people taking my tax money so they can eat steak and pick up their government checks while driving Cadillacs.

At around the same time, shipping products around the globe became really cost effective, which allowed manufacturers to shut down operations in the US, and open up in third world nations to take advantage of super-cheap labor. This resulted in the first of NUMEROUS waves of layoffs, which devastated the American working class, and broke the labor unions' backs. Without the unions, and without good jobs that could provide a middle class standard of living, American workers were increasingly, and literally, totally on their own. Struggling to pay the bills, maxing out credit cards, doing anything they could to stay afloat, and with virtually no help from the "liberal" Democrats, many white working class voters across the nation embraced the GOP's politics of racial resentment, learning to hate the "welfare queen" just as white Southern voters were doing--these were the so-called "Reagan Democrats."

So it all reached a critical mass in the 90s. Republican anti-welfare, pro-deregulation, pro-corporate rhetoric became a massive onslaught, capturing the imagination of the ruling elite, that is, the press, DC insiders, and both political parties. Clinton, an economically conservative Democrat, then colluded with the new GOP majority in both houses to "end welfare as we know it," while at the same time unleashing Wall Street to do, well, whatever it wanted. So we lived the myth for approximately a decade or so, as Washington became the libertarian's friend. Only the tech bubble, and then the housing and credit bubbles disguised the fact that they were running the nation into the ground. But reality has a way of catching up, and the financial collapse of 2007, from which we have not at all recovered, essentially destroyed whatever "intellectual" foundation on which all this libertarian mythology was based.

That is, markets are NOT self-regulating, and the government must necessarily intervene in the economy in various ways in order for it to function. This is a fact. 2007 proved it. Unfortunately, there are a lot of dead-enders hanging around who still want to party like it's 1999, in spite of all the real-world evidence proving how wrong they've been the entire time.

But here's the deal. Your myths no longer capture the public imagination in the way they used to do. You tell people to go get a job, and all that's there is McDonald's. You tell people to be responsible for themselves and it's obviously impossible. And the rich just keep getting richer. People aren't idiots. The country is falling apart. There are no opportunities for enormous sectors of the population. "Go get a job" is just insulting now. And people know it. Whether you like it or not, libertarianism is on the way out. It's a joke "philosophy" that never worked in the real world, and has brought our once prosperous nation to the brink of ruin.

It may not happen until I'm an old man, but your point of view WILL be swept into the dustbin of history. People don't believe the earth is flat anymore, either.