Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch
I’m going to write this once, and then point to it any time anyone feels the need to say, “Well, what about Libertarianism?” I’ve been mulling this over for a bit, and what being a Libertarian amounts to is either not having even a basic grasp of economic history, or just being a greedy son of a bitch with no empathy for anyone else, who doesn’t grasp how the social contract works for their benefit as well as for other people.
Ages ago I got into a slight tiff on Skepchick.org with the guy who was the sole male Skepchick, Sam. So, one Friday he posted his weekly question for discussion, which was, “Is Libertarianism a good idea? Why do you think it is or isn’t?” To which I responded, “No, because I have read a fucking history book.” For which I was scolded for “not really contributing to the discussion.”
Why was I so flippant? Because I’m tired of teaching 9th grade Civics to a bunch of grown ass adults who are either too dumb, too lazy, or too fucking selfish to grasp why we don’t have a completely free market. Why is it on my ass to explain to you things you damn well should have learned in high school, if you’d been paying the teeniest bit of attention?
Libertarians talk about how if we disregulate everything, then business and industry owners will provide all the things that the laws demand they provide now, out of the goodness of their hearts.
Does anyone else find this to be utter bullshit? Because even though we currently have laws demanding that employers provide benefits, basic safety and a non-hostile work environment, many of them don’t. The reason those miners died in that cave in while Bush was still President wasn’t because the industry standards of safety equipment couldn’t have saved them, but because the mining company felt it was more cost-effective to keep paying fines, than to actually upgrade their safety measures. Which is why the Chilean miners who were caught in a mine collapse less than a year later, survived. Because their country enforces safety legislation.
We’ve had the “Libertarian Paradise” they keep talking about. It was called the late 1800s through the 1920s. The whole reason we don’t have a free market is because at one time we DID and it was a terrible idea. This is what I mean when I say things like, “Because I have read a fucking history book.” Honestly it stretches back before that, but in this country, industrialization didn’t really get going until after the Civil War. And now some American History major is going to jump my shit for that statement. It’s ok, I’m used to it.
Unregulated markets were one of the contributing factors to the world wide Depression in the 1920s.
Generally speaking, we don’t make laws unless there’s a reason for them. In some cases, it’s an unjust reason (i.e. sodomy laws), but there IS a reason. We didn’t just introduce anti-monopoly legislation and basic work safety laws because the government wanted to suck industry dry, but because we NEEDED THEM.
The other thing that chaps my hide about Libertarians is their basic lack of recognition of how the social contract that includes things like taxes works for them, as well as everyone else. In Washington state we have this enormous clownshoe named Tim Eyman who is constantly introducing measures to cut taxes, blah blah blah… And we fell for it, as a state, once. Let me explain.
Washington state does not have an income tax. So the state has to be creative about raising money. We have a ridiculously high sales tax, gas taxes are kind of high, and sin taxes on booze and cigarettes are ludicrous. We also have a state lottery to raise money for education. One thing we used to have was that when you paid for your yearly car registration fee, it was based on the Kelly Blue Book value of your car. So, if you were driving an old beat up POS, you were fine, $35 was lowest it went. However, new cars could be insanely expensive. The registration for my first new car was over $200 the first year, next year it went down to $180.
Tim Eyman proposed an initiative to drop everyone’s car registration down to $35, and on the surface that sounded great. Because the registration fees did make it hard for the economically disadvantage to buy a new car, even if they did scrape up the money to get one, then the next year you had to scrape up the money for the tabs. So, on the surface it seemed like a reasonable measure. Except that those car registrations funded the bulk of the road maintenance and repair in the state. Yeah, the roads haven’t been the same since. So Eyman’s kind of become a dirty word around these parts.
When questioned about the lack of road repair due to his law being voted in, he commented that it didn’t really effect him because he’s a tech guy who works from home.
Except that those Amazon Fresh trucks that bring him his groceries use those roads. And the trucks that bring those groceries to the warehouses use those roads. Also, without taxes and governmental subsidies, electricity would be far more expensive than it is. Also, without taxes we don’t have fire departments, police, etc… Needless to say, without the taxes we pay to the government and all it does for us, Eyman couldn’t afford his work from home techie lifestyle. And many of his proposed legislations are, in fact, just whiny tantrums from someone who doesn’t understand how society actually works and benefits him.
So, yeah, I’m just done with trying to explain Civics 101 to morons who couldn’t be assed to pay attention the first, second, or millionth time school tried to drill it through their thick skulls.
Yep, exactly. Also, there’s a discussion of the problems of Libertarianism here, which I would highly recommend.
“We didn’t just introduce anti-monopoly legislation and basic work safety laws because the government wanted to suck industry dry, but because we NEEDED THEM.”
“We” needed them? I doubt it. Antitrust laws are at best based on incomplete middle school knowledge about the Gilded Age – at worst because other companies can’t compete with one market player and decide to use the government against him. There has not been a single case of the free market creating a “bad monopoly” – that is, a very large player that kept prices high and quality low in the medium or long term.
If you’re interested, I suggest reading Gabriel Kolko, a socialist historian who analyzes the Gilded Age and finds that it was a huge increase in competition that frightened major market players, who could not hold on to their power through the market, and who instead went to the state to use its apparatus the remove the competition for them. All under the guise of public safety.
Also, there is no evidence to show that OSHA and other such labor safety regulations have increased safety. Workplace safety is a part of job compensation, as are wages, and is set by supply and demand.
Ok, I’m hoping I’m not going to regret approving and engaging you. Please try to reaffirm my faith in humanity instead of validating my misanthropy.
First, Kolko, I did a search, on Kolko. I can’t find any other historians who think he’s right. I did a WebofScience search to read some of his articles, and while he seems to be pretty good at pointing out the obvious (“women enter the work force when they need money,” who knew?) I can’t really say I impressed either with the quality of his writing, or his complete and utter lack of conclusions.
Second, the big companies fought the monopoly laws, as a search of primary sources, like era newspapers, will show you. Every time we get a president who de-regulates, we get monopolies, price-fixing and a bunch of other horse-shit that hurts the working class Kolko claims to speak for.
Now, granted, I did not have the time (and right now I really don’t have the inclination to try to struggle through his obfuscatory writing) to read the actual pertinent book Triumph of Conservatism, but honestly from the review I’ve read, both favorable and unfavorable, I doubt it’s going to convince me.
Now, on to OSHA, I am gonna need citations like a mother fucker, here. Because according to OSHA itself (https://www.osha.gov/oshstats/commonstats.html ), and several unaffiliated academic studies regarding the effectiveness of OSHA (here’s one: Foley, M, Fan, ZJ, Rauser, E, Silverstein, B.The impact of regulatory enforcement and consultation visits on workers’ compensation claims incidence rates and costs, 1999-2008.
AMERICAN JOURNAL OF INDUSTRIAL MEDICINE 55:11 pg. 976-990 NOV 2012) indicate that OSHA regulations have had a significant impact on workplace death and injury.
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And PS, Kolko uses a Marxist approach to history, but while a “Leftist” (I have my doubts, there), he is totally NOT a socialist.
You wrote, “who could not hold on to their power through the market, and who instead went to the state to use its apparatus the remove the competition for them. All under the guise of public safety.”
That’s still a free market problem. We deregulate everything, and then the richest players in the market buy legislators and have them pass laws to make the market more favorable to their monopoly.
Libertarianism can only be temporary, sooner or later somebody is going to re-regulate the economy. The only difference is that the temporary free market will make it more likely the next round of regulations will be of, by, and for the oligarchy.
Anyone who rebuts all this in three short paragraphs, and one is “here, go read this because I’m too lazy to pull from it for my own argument” and another is “there’s no statistical evidence, but I’m not going to prove it” doesn’t have a defensible position.
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Libertarians seem to fall into two camps: the Randians who don’t care if scads of people die in the streets (they deserve it for being inadequate) and the ones who think the human race will magically become altruistic and giving with no needed of laws to ensure safety and security. I don’t believe history supports the latter, and surely the planet has seen enough of the former.
I hate apps that won’t let me correct my stupid phone typing. Please mentally replace “needed” up there with “need” and ignore anything new that may have happened in this correction.
It occurs to me that we have a modern day Libertarian state in Somalia. The consequence has been that piracy has become a viable career path, locally, until “Big Government” U.S. Navy shows up and puts an end to the career by shooting the “entrepreneur” in the head. Based on that Libertarianism just allows rampant criminality through deregulation and the strange hope that the costs are shifted away from one actor away to other people, who matter less to the actor in question.
“So, yeah, I’m just done with trying to explain Civics 101 to morons who couldn’t be assed to pay attention the first, second, or millionth time school tried to drill it through their thick skulls.”
It is not just that, there is a stupendous amount of propaganda surrounding libertarianism.
There is a movement towards libertarian ideals because the public sector can not produce economic growth and the government stifles development. In the real world a certain amount of regulation is needed (which does cost economic growth). The government has grown too large and as a result the cost to economic growth has become too large.
As for the “social contract”. I didn’t ask for it, I have no interest in being apart of it, and I could obtain the things the social contract provides by myself and do it far better. Roads for example: Taxes aren’t needed for that. Place electric tolls on the roads and use the revenue to fund the roads aka forcing consumers to pay for the resources they use. As it is now, Im subsidizing the choices of car drivers with my tax dollars.
So yah, clearly you need to learn a little bit more about libertarianism and alternative economic models as opposed to the centralized, top down approach you clearly favor. Is pure libertarianism practical? No. However it does have some valid points that you casually brush aside because they contradict your world view.
Ha ha ha ha haaaaa!!!
I suggest you open a fucking history book. Also, you don’t drive anywhere? Do you bike? Do you walk on sidewalks? Do you use electricity? Subsidized. Do you use cable, internet, phone, all subsidized. Are you out west? Odds are good your water is EXCEPTIONALLY governmentally subsidized. Sewers, subsidized. Did you go to school? Even private schools rely on government subsidies. Food sold in grocery stores, subsidized.
I can keep going, Captain Ignorance.
You’ve benefited from the social contract your entire life. Time to pay it back. Or, you know, move somewhere that is truly a “Libertarian Paradise.” I can think of a few undeveloped countries that fit that bill.
PS. You are not John Galt.