Lynn Parramore/Alternet: Libertarianism Causes “Epic Ripoffs”
Lynn Parramore, writing at Alternet, concludes a rambling essay against libertarianism by saying it causes “Epic Ripoffs” because it causes inequality. This came as a surprise to absolutely no one, in that people are born with different skills and different traits. It’s the kind of inequality that libertarians are okay with, you know the kind that lets women earn 104 cents for every 100 cents a man makes.
But Parramore can’t stop herself, she writes with the fervency of a shrill government stooge ten minutes before a grant filing deadline: “In the healthcare industry, as well as a dizzying array of other areas, like housing markets, energy market, labor markets, financial services markets, and perhaps most frighteningly, capital markets in which money sloshes through a global system extracting wealth through out-of-control instruments like derivatives, markets fail spectacularly. Regulation is the only way to fix these glaring market failures. Just leaving everything to the market, as libertarians recommend, is often guaranteed to produce epic ripoffs.”
I’d be interested to hear where she thinks things were ever left “to the market.”
The problem with her article is that her level of stupid throughout is so compressed and well-packed, that literally every sentence might be the stupidest thing you’ve ever read. It’s a stunning display of economic and historical ignorance, which has already generated 889 comments, mostly by libertarian fanboys dropping h-bombs of facts on Parramore, but like the T-1000, she’s impervious to facts. In fact she just keeps repeating the same tired arguments to the extent where she should be called Parrotmore.
Most of her arguments mirror a personal argument I had in middle school with fellow 12 year olds about the nature of government. I figured a Ph.D in English and Cultural Theory would have reduced the quality of her argument down to elementary school, but Parramore surprised me by using a few obscure anecdotes. After all she talks about the railroads having a monopoly in the 19th century. As if libertarians have never discussed or thought about the issue, ever, ever.
Here’s the fundamental problem: the left is incapable of understanding or empathizing with their opponents. That and they clearly never read any of the material produced by the other side. Read “The Righteous Mind” by Jon Haidt to see this theory discussed in detail.
Parrotmore just keeps giving truly inane arguments about “libertarianism” as if it’s some monolithic belief structure. She reduces it to, “I hate poor people and taxes, so I’ll stop paying taxes to help poor people, and profit!” Here’s a few gems from Parrotmore:
“The truth is actually this: Many a rich person gets wealthy just by being born to wealthy parents.”
Demonstrably false. She has a cop out here by having written “many” and so, she implies a lot, but hey, maybe “many” is really contextually just two out of a million. And what’s “wealthy” after all? Is “middle class” being born to “wealthy” parents? Lesson to learn here: never trust the writings of an English major. But just for grins, let’s show that Parrotmore is false again.
“Bankers committed massive fraud on mortgage loans leading up to the financial crisis, and continue a crime spree which includes laundering money for terrorists and drug cartels, rate-rigging, manipulating the prices of commodities, taking bribes, engaging in insider trading, participating in ponzi schemes, cooking the books, and so on. Fraud has grown so pervasive in corporate America that legendary short seller Jim Chanos describes a culture in which executives think they have a fiduciary duty to cheat.”
Parramore has apparently seen Pacino in “Scarface” a few too many times.
“Beyond the blatant crimes, bankers are engaging far more in reckless speculation that destabilizes the economy than doing useful things like lending money to people who need it. Put simply, they make a great deal of money looting the economy through cheating taxpayers and screwing customers with fees and tricks. Result: Bankers get very rich, while the rest of us get poorer.”
I don’t think Lynn understands what banks do. At all. And to be sure, many big banks are horrible institutions, and most of those are ones who have a symbiotic relationship with the government. To say that libertarians are pro-big-bank is completely wrong. Banks are one of the most regulated industries of all times. Even during the supposed Obama economic recovery, there were recent years where not a single new bank opened. Is that possible if there’s low regulation and banksters are allowed to launder Tony Montana’s drug money for obscene profits all the time?
And hey, I could regurgitate her article all day long, but she’s just a ridiculously simplistic statist.
Here’s her basic argument: Libertarians are wrong because of 1) inequality, 2) public goods, 3) regulation. Yet no libertarian on the planet claims libertarianism is a perfect utopian heaven, all the problems of human nature will still remain. Inequality is measured by either results or opportunity, and to create equal results requires coercion and force, which they reject. Public goods can be funded by private sources, not just streetlights but sometimes even entire highways. She then talks about the need for regulation by talking about how unregulated the automotive industry was.
What’s going on here is that progressives are scared of Ron Paul and his son Rand Paul. They see a devoted group of idealistic young followers and they can’t wait to crush that hope with cynicism. Libertarianism may have its legitimate critiques and complaints, but Parramore isn’t capable of even understanding them. So she doesn’t offer any subtlety or nuance in her article, she just gives these broad brush critiques of libertarianism to prevent closed-minded Alternet readers from even trying to engage the issues. She knows better, but she’s writing from fear and ignorance.
For many years libertarians liked to believe that they were immune to attacks from the left, and that it was only the establishment GOP that was so traditional and backwards that caused the media to hate them so. But the recent few years and the incessant irrational attacks on libertarianism should show that the left hates them just as much. If your ideas are a threat to the left’s power, you’re going to be attacked. It’s business and it’s personal. Thus for Parramore all libertarians are riding “theoretical unicorns” instead of just having a different view of state power.
You either believe in people, or you believe in planners. You either believe in spontaneous order, or in central planners to accomplish good things. You either believe in freedom, or you believe in coercive state power. Parramore believes in the latter and ought to try reading a real libertarian book or talking to a real live libertarian before just repeating the same tired arguments against libertarians in the future.