Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Dead, But Still Dangerous

Ariannna Huffington declares laissez-faire capitalism dead, but still dangerous:

She writes, "It's time to drive the final nail into the coffin of laissez-faire capitalism by treating it like the discredited ideology it inarguably is. If not, the Dr. Frankensteins of the right will surely try to revive the monster and send it marauding through our economy once again."

Ideas are easier to deal with when they are sorted with Manichean clarity. Unfortunately, such dualism obliterates important details. Laissez-faire capitalism does not call for the elimination of all rules, nor does deregulation automatically equal laissez-faire capitalism.

Conflating both laissez-faire and deregulation with gangster anarchy is intellectually irresponsible. Furthermore, it is politically dangerous. If we "drive the final nail into the coffin of laissez-faire," what is left? Severed from the Western tradition of natural rights and limited government, public policy would drift according to populist whims. Good news for ambitious demagogues like Juan Peron. Bad news for everyone else. That is hardly a reassuring vision.

Rather than declare laissez-faire dead or dangerous, we should recognize what is really happening: it is slowly choking on the 80,700 pages of the Federal Register, a daily publication.

1 comment:

The Aardvark said...

Thank you.

The tiresome binary drubbing we take from the "news" is a weariness to the bones. Either "this" or "that". Meh.

I'm a newbie to your site, and I like what I see. It's good that something so right is coming from where The Ashley and the Cooper meet to form the Atlantic!