Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Unrepentant After The Fact

A couple of days ago, I had posted a short response at The Unrepentant Individual complaining about "business is good; government is bad" thinking. Brad graciously responded, and I have spent the last two after-midnight hours responding in his comments section. I said quite a bit. Hope my spelling held out.

My major points (i) that business can be, and often is, as corrupt as government, (ii) it is government regulation of business, and not the inherent nature of business, that sometimes makes business look better than it is and (iii) government is forced into taking on inefficient, money-losing projects for reasons that business does not need to be concerned about (for example, to prevent the insurrection of its citizens), and that role tends to make government look worse than it is.

With apologies to the Unrepentant Individual, I feel equally unrepentant in the belief that the individiual in society, in any society, faces odds that are too long to cover without some huge power providing the back up. Admitedly, every huge power demands its due.

My basic view on the subject Here and Here remains the same.

The bottom line (well, the bottom paragraphs:)(I know -- I've said it before, and without characterizing whether, or if, the Unrepentant Individual -- or libertarianism in general -- represents any of the Horsemen I mention below)

"People say that the government should not do it, that people can do it themselves, and better.

"As a Democrat, I would prefer to put it like this (although I agree that this may not be the official Democratic position):

"If the government does not do it, individuals (Republicans) will be left alone --- and they will starve to death. What will keep individuals from starving will not be their own efforts, because they lack the resources to do it themselves. Communal efforts of their fellow citizens won't do it, because their fellow citizens are hungry as well. What keeps everyone from starving is the largesse of some other large actor, either the church or the landlord (the corporation in modern parlance). Given these four bad Horsemen --- church, state, corporation, starving to death --- I agree that Democrats do tend to cast their lot with the state. Excessive state will kill you. History is full of examples. However, excessive church also kills, excessive greed by landlords and corporations also kills, and starvation ...

"So when people talk about limiting the government to its smallest possible level, I get the sense that they are not trying to make me more free, but are trying to switch the power to the church, the moneyed interests, or they're simply trying to starve me to death."