Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Not in the market

The other day, I dissed Ron Paul in a CNN comment thread. Naturally, I heard from one of the ardent Paulistas who can't get over America's rejection of their pet ideas. Hell, not America as a whole - the group that rejected Paul was the crank-dominated Republican Party. The GOP was the last best hope of achieving Ayn Rand's retreat to the mountaintop away from all us nagging liberals.

So, the Paulista I heard from, call him Sean since that's his name, tells me that I don't understand libertarian ideas and then he refers me to correct my own alleged ignorance at a site that sells Ayn Rand and other libertarian claptrap. Oh, and aggregates sites that sell Britney Spears photos.

I'm on my own, he wants me to buy stuff I don't need, and he teases it without regard for honesty. Caveat emptor! Well, that's consistent.

Here's the problem: I'm not in the market for some raggedy-ass used economic theory of utopia that can't explain much about the real organization of economies. I'm more interested in theories that bear on the world where, you know, I actually live.

Americans haven't bought libertarianism either. There it sits year after year gathering dust on the shelf at the wholesale club for discount doctrines. There just aren't many customers.

You'd think Sean would be out recruiting, and I guess he wrote me like a Mormon missionary in Harlem. The Objectivist cult can't use love-bombing since it's against their ideology of the contract as the highest human interaction. It's only a slight exaggeration to say that they will only provide value in exchange for value. So they are slow to gain converts out of their target demographic - nerdy, lonely college freshmen who are analytical but more prone to abstraction than to observation.

These Barnumesque salesmen may have heard of Say's Law, and it may give them hope that they will someday move their moth-eaten product, but what they don't realize is that Say's Law is only true if prices can be negative (and then none of its results work). Put another way, markets clear all goods but sometimes you have to pay your "customer" to take the old crap away. Put even more starkly, Say's Law is bunk. So it is with the libertarian fantasy.

So why oh why won't the libertarians accept the verdict of their sainted market and sell something else. Something that meets the legal standard of implied warrant of marketability. (Oops, another intervention of government that they think corrupts the purity of the market even while it keeps sellers from corruption they would otherwise be strongly tempted to engage in.)

But, please, they should pimp something better than Britney Spears. She may be marketable, but not to most of us out here, since we aren't nerdy, lonely college freshmen.


mroberts said...

Paul is going to turn 77 during the 2012 campaign, he got into politics to defend the gold standard, and his libertarian economic ideas have been thoroughly discredited by the current crisis.

Discredited? Paul was one of the few people who predicted the current crisis. The economists of the Austrian all saw the crisis coming, and you think that their views are discredited? There is a reason Paul has been getting far more airtime on the network news lately - he is one of the few that knew this was going to happen and commentators are interested in knowing how he knew it.

lovable liberal said...

Paul's been getting airtime because CNN has always had him on. TV networks love simplistic nonsense, which is why they are completely unreliable for anything other than pictures.

Paul's economics claims that everything would be peachy if government did nothing at all with economic impact. It's just bullshit. So Paul wants to abolish the Fed and let private firms manage the money supply as they see fit, based on transparency enforced (ha!) by the "free" market. It's a delusional fantasy.

If the "free" market were going to enforce transparency, it would do it even if the government was attempting to enforce transparency through regulation. There would just be redundancy.

In the current crisis, did anyone in a position to provide a competing investment know that all this debt was poison? Paul Krugman. But even the "smart" money on Wall St. - even Warren Buffett - kept buying it.

An unregulated financial market inevitably finds a way to blow up a bubble, and a bubble always bursts. The fault here is with the market - and with the government for listening to "free" market advocates urge deregulation.