Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Stephen Metcalf, Idiot

Apparently this gross example of misinformation is all over the blogosphere. Others have done their jobs of pointing out the endless factual errors. I am going to focus, rather, on this statement:

When I think with my own brain and look with my own eyes, it's obvious to me that some combination of civil rights, democratic institutions, educational capital, social trust, consumer choice, and economic opportunity make me free.

What libertarian would disagree with this statement. The question is, do these things arise in a libertarian world or from government? Were civil rights imposed from above, or won from the bottom-up against government-imposed laws restricting women and minorities? Were democratic institutions handed down to us from the monarchs they replaced, or did they emerge from the bottom-up, as a new spontaneous order form of government? Is educational capital granted by government, or earned by individuals who decide whether or not they want to learn? Is social trust created through more policing and the creation of orderly neighborhoods by government planners, or do they emerge as Jane Jacobs described, spontaneously in complex neighborhoods that emerged naturally, without government interference in the growth process? Is consumer choice dictated by government, or created through market competition? Does government create economic opportunity by taxing companies and interfering in pricing and production, or does the free market create economic opportunity?

Government creates monopoly, thus undermining both economic opportunity and consumer choice. Government subsidizes companies, thus undermining economic opportunity and consumer choice. Government creates barriers to entry in a variety of ways, thus undermining economic opportunity and consumer choice. If he wants these things, he should support the free market, meaning libertarianism. If he wants social trust, he will help us get rid of the laws that undermine it. If he wants to increase educational capital, then he will work to ensure people are getting a real education rather than supporting a system that creates an education bubble that will burst, wreck havoc, and which undermines true learning. If he wants democratic institutions and civil rights, he will work to get rid of those laws that undermine and violate them. But I suspect he doesn't want to do any of that. Which means, he doesn't actually want any of those things. They are slogans to him, and nothing more.

Metcalf is an idiot.
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