Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Missionary work amongst the Leftiti Tribe

Much as I attack the left, I am convinced that, if change is to be brought about in a libertarian direction, we will first need to win over a large section of the left to the virtues of liberty. Hence my occasional contributions to the goings-on at Liberal Conspiracy.

A current, and rather silly, post over there gives a comparison between the subsidy British tax-payers are forced to hand over to the EU and the amount paid by the British government to BAE under defence contracts. As usual, the point being made is; right-wingers moan about this, but they don't moan about that, ergo right-wingers are hypocrites. (N.B. The figure for our EU contribution is a vast under-counting of the true cost of EU regulation and mercantilism).

I have no particular desire to defend the right-wing, and there is indeed a willful blind spot on the right, at least those who proclaim a belief in small government but make an exception for 'defence' spending (see Reagan et al), but it's a shame the left doesn't spend more time trying to work through their own contradictions.

On that thread, the issue of subsidies to corporate vested interests is discussed and the great Sunny Hundal states that; "Large parts of the left have been against them for decades.” To which I responded:

Is there any hope the left is ever going to work out the correlation between corporate vested interests and the big state that the left always seem to support?

You see something’s killing the chickens, and all you ever want to do is give more power to Mr Fox the chicken-coop guard.

It is the state which enables the corporate vested interests. Indeed, historically the state and the vested interests have been essentially the same people.

It was the free trade movement that challenged this cosy stitch-up between the British oligarchy and the British government. Protectionism and mercantilism are policies which support vested interests at the expense of everyone else. And yet, when people call for genuine free trade, they are attacked by the left for supporting vested interests!

What is necessary is for the left to work out what they are against and why, and following this, what they want to do about it. If it is corporate vested interests, then they must follow through to discover how such vested interests operate, i.e. by working hand in glove with the state. Indeed, it is only through using the state that they can obtain any kind of advantage, over and above to the (legitimate) advantages they can gain through their own efforts to be competitive in the market.

Also comes the question: what do you want to do about it, lefties? It strikes me that their standard response is; tax the rich; tax the corporations. What this means is;

A) They identify all that are rich as synonymous with corporate vested interests.
C) They identify all profits as somehow illegitimate by definition.
B) They have no desire to remove the ill-gotten protectionist benefits of the vested interests, but would rather engage in an ex post facto grab on the ill-gotten loot. However, attempting to reduce the effect is surely less satisfactory than removing the cause.
D) They are giving the state/government a free pass, for its role in all such nefariousness. Indeed, they wish to reward the state with additional funds through hiking taxes.

Libertarians are, I believe, obliged to defend the free market, but this certainly does not mean, nor should we allow it to be misconstrued, that we are defending the status quo. This is especially true when it comes to monetary policy, central banks and corporate welfare. Left-wingers have a standard hostility to some of these things but for muddled reasons, and their grasp of money matters is fraught with primitive fallacies. Our job is to put forward the libertarian case with reason and patience.

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