Capitalism, Markets and Laissez-Faire
From Critiques Of Libertarianism
Libertarian ideology worships these gods with feet of clay, and wishes no limits to them. History and common sense tell us that limits must be imposed on them, they must be regulated.
- Capital in the Twenty-First Century (book) (14 links)
- This book shows how policies concentrate wealth in the hands of the .01%, increasing inequality. Libertarianism has always been sponsored by the extremely rich, and their positions have favored these policies or worse.
- Capitalism is the best economic system ever devised. (Not!)
- A remarkable propaganda statement that relies on the vagueness of "best", doesn't say which variant of capitalism, and requires you to overlook the fact that capitalism must necessarily be only a part of real economic systems (which include family and government production and exchange.)
- Capitalism Whack-A-Mole [More...] (1 link)
- "There is no general framework of morality or justice that supports laissez-faire capitalism. This is a problem of course for those who wish to argue on behalf of it. When you talk to such people, a familiar argumentative pattern emerges that I have come to call Capitalism Whack-A-Mole."
- Real Life Capitalism Whack-A-Mole [More...]
- "I taped a TV segment today with the Ayn Rand Institute’s Don Watkins about his book “Equal Is Unfair.” My sole goal going into the segment was to see if I could produce a Capitalism Whack-A-Mole in the wild."
- Desert-Sacrifice-Utility Whack-a-Mole [More...]
- Another common shifting of arguments to support capitalism is from desert justifications to sacrifice justifications to utility justifications. Each one can be shown to fail as a valid justification.
- Economists Are Warming to Government Intervention [More...]
- Based on recent surveys, "... on many issues, economists are actually more likely than the general public to summon the guiding hand of the state."
- Is Libertarianism Fundamentally about Competition? Or about Property? [More...]
- David Brin attempts to find common ground between liberals and libertarians by stressing the value of competition. He concludes that: "today's libertarians are (I grieve to say it) in-effect quite mad."
- Keynes on Laissez-Faire [More...]
- Gavin Kennedy writes: "‘Laissez-nous faire’ is not advocated as a universal principle for merchants and their customers; it was a very partial principle for merchants only... [Mill and mine owners] wrapped themselves in laissez-faire flags to wipe up the blood of their employees when they demanded their own freedoms and not those of their labourers or their customers."
- Morals and Markets [More...]
- "We present controlled experimental evidence on how market interaction changes how human subjects value harm and damage done to third parties." A research article published in Science.
- Private Government (5 links)
- Most workplace governments in the United States are dictatorships, in which bosses govern in ways that are largely unaccountable to those who are governed. They don't merely govern workers; they dominate them. These are feudal forms of tyranny and coercion.
- The God That Sucked [More...]
- The results of roughly 30 years of market worship are a destruction of the American dream.
- The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time (book, online) (1 link)
- Explains the socially constructed nature of "free markets", as opposed to "spontaneous order". A major work of economic history.
- The Myth of the “Free Market” and How to Make the Economy Work for Us [More...]
- One of the most deceptive ideas continuously sounded by the Right (and its fathomless think tanks and media outlets) is that the “free market” is natural and inevitable, existing outside and beyond government.
- The Risks of Unfettered Capitalism [More...]
- "Capitalism [...] provides financial incentives to harm and even kill people. Just ask those people who say they have been victimized by cigarettes, predatory lenders, Volkswagen diesel emissions, Takata airbags, General Motors ignition switches, Trump University, Vioxx, asbestos or other products."
- The Tyranny of the Market [More...]
- Angus Sibley's outline of the threats from libertarian (free-market) economics. "According to free-market dogma, we must accept passively the dictatorship of the market."
[A blind spot]... a simply weird refusal to acknowledge the huge role played by money and monetary incentives promoting bad ideas.
Paul Krugman, "Conservative Intellectuals: Follow the Money"
Libertarianism is supposed to be all about principles, but what it’s really about is political expedience. It’s basically a corporate front, masked as a philosophy.
Thomas Frank in Jane Mayer, "Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right" pg. 123.
Alas, today's libertarians are (I grieve to say it) in-effect quite mad. They worship unlimited private property, even though it was precisely the failure mode that crushed freedom in 99% of human cultures. And they rage against a system that in general resulted in vastly more wealth, freedom and more libertarians than any other. This is a quasi-religious idolatry. It makes them complicit allies of the enemies of competition. It makes them murderers of the thing that they should love.
David Brin , "Is Libertarianism Fundamentally about Competition? Or about Property?"
Libertarianism is the One Weird Trick For Solving Any Issue, Politicians HATE Us! of politics. It reduces many of the most complex problems in the world to a set of answers concise enough that they can fit on the back of a business card (isolationism, tiny government, bare minimal taxation).
Kirkaine, "Libertarians are primarily concerned with feeling correct, not about real world results."
All Power to the Markets has never been too persuasive as a rallying cry.
Thomas Frank, "The God That Sucked"
The market is a god that sucks. Yes, it cashed a few out at the tippy top, piled up the loot of the world at their feet, delivered shiny Lexuses into the driveways of their ten-bedroom suburban chateaux. But for the rest of us, the very principles that make the market the object of D’Souza’s worship, of Gilder’s awestruck piety, are the forces that conspire to make life shitty in a million ways great and small. The market is the reason our housing is so expensive. It is the reason our public transportation is lousy. It is the reason our cities sprawl idiotically all across the map. It is the reason our word processing programs stink and our prescription drugs cost more than anywhere else. In order that a fortunate few might enjoy a kind of prosperity unequaled in human history, the rest of us have had to abandon ourselves to a lifetime of casual employment, to unquestioning obedience within an ever more arbitrary and despotic corporate regime, to medical care available on a maybe/maybe-not basis, to a housing market interested in catering only to the fortunate.
Thomas Frank, "The God That Sucked"
For all this vast and sparkling intellectual production, though, we hear surprisingly little about what it’s like to be managed. Perhaps the reason for this is because, when viewed from below, all the glittering, dazzling theories of management seem to come down to the same ugly thing. This is the lesson that Barbara Ehrenreich learns from the series of low-wage jobs that she works and then describes in all their bitter detail in her new book, Nickel and Dimed. Pious chatter about “free agents” and “empowered workers” may illuminate the covers of Fast Company and Business 2.0, but what strikes one most forcefully about the world of waitresses, maids, and Wal-Mart workers that Ehrenreich enters is the overwhelming power of management, the intimidating array of advantages it holds in its endless war on wages. This is a place where even jobs like housecleaning have been Taylorized to extract maximum output from workers (“You know, all this was figured out with a stopwatch,” Ehrenreich is told by a proud manager at a maid service), where omnipresent personality and drug tests screen out those of assertive nature, where even the lowliest of employees are overseen by professional-grade hierarchs who crack the whip without remorse or relent, where workers are cautioned against “stealing time” from their employer by thinking about anything other than their immediate task, and where every bit of legal, moral, psychological, and anthropological guile available to advanced civilization is deployed to prevent the problem of pay from ever impeding the upward curve of profitability. This is the real story of life under markets.
Thomas Frank, "The God That Sucked"
In reality, the “free market” is a bunch of rules about (1) what can be owned and traded (the genome? slaves? nuclear materials? babies? votes?); (2) on what terms (equal access to the internet? the right to organize unions? corporate monopolies? the length of patent protections? ); (3) under what conditions (poisonous drugs? unsafe foods? deceptive Ponzi schemes? uninsured derivatives? dangerous workplaces?) (4) what’s private and what’s public (police? roads? clean air and clean water? healthcare? good schools? parks and playgrounds?); (5) how to pay for what (taxes, user fees, individual pricing?). And so on.
Robert Reich, "The Myth of the “Free Market” and How to Make the Economy Work for Us"
For my part I think that capitalism, wisely managed, can probably be made more efficient for attaining economic ends than any alternative system yet in sight, but that in itself it is in many ways extremely objectionable. Our problem is to work out a social organisation which shall be as efficient as possible without offending our notions of a satisfactory way of life.
John Maynard Keynes, "The end of laissez-faire"
We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings.
Ursula K. Le Guin at the 65th National Book Awards on November 19, 2014.