Sunday, September 10, 2006

Strike the Root: Decentralism vs. Rational Markets

I found a good article by Carlton Hobbs at Strike the Root called Decentralism vs. Rational Markets, which addresses the nature of markets and formalizes some ideas I expressed earlier when I said "If you don't like the market, leave it!

If you get around Hobbs' academic references to libertarian moral and economic theory, you'll find some good criticisms of market fetishism. Among them are...

...a free market advocate should not just put faith in the free market and just float unthinkingly down the river of the spontaneously ordered market.Entrepreneurs do not “just put faith in the market.” They actively seek out real imperfections in the current market. Notice that it is a bit contradictory to praise the entrepreneur and then attack someone just for claiming to see a market failure. To quote Warren Buffett, “I'd be a bum on the street with a tin cup if the markets were always efficient.”
Libertarian judicial theory is mainly concerned with the voluntaryness of an exchange, but it is not the end of human action. Individuals can make foolish market decisions. When millions of people all make foolish decisions on the market, it doesn’t make the total less foolish.
Hobbs also explains how and why we may consciously structure our market interactions, the idea of which seems anathema to the "free-market fetish" crowd, who take for granted that whatever happens in the market is inherently good.
Lenin wrote that capitalists would sell him the rope to hang them with, and he was too often right.... Market advocates have failed to account for the long term disvalue of treating friendly customers equally to customers who are hostile to the market.
He examines how our market decisions put us at risk for exploitation:
All else equal, a free market society should seek to minimize extended supply chains, especially to those dependent on markets controlled by hostile entities. If one system of production is more centralized or extended, it is more vulnerable to risk exploitation. Decentralism enhances security and decreases risk. Risk is a component that governments have massive power to manipulate both from inside (through buying and selling agents) and outside the market.
Finally, he suggests that small producers and co-ops are natrual allies of libertarians, whereas large heirarchical coporations are natural enemies. There's more to the article, but I can't do it justice here.

(tip to Kevin Carson)

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Movement of the Libertarian Left

I have decided to affiliate this blog with the Movement of the Libertarian Left. I hesitated to do this, because I didn't want to appear partisan. However, I get the impression that the majority of my readers come via other MLL websites (especially Freedom Democrats and The Mutualist Blog), so I might as well join the club.

Someday, I hope to describe how I came to identify with this movement, and also describe some of the better writings in this movement. But for now, you can take a look at the webring controls to the right, and browse the webring.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Lies in Print

I recently wrote this letter to the editors of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. When you realize how pathetic and destructive political discourse is in our society, you'll understand why I am compelled to write on the Internet.

Dear Editors,

After reading last Sunday's opinion section cover-to-cover, I was bothered by what appeared to be two blatantly false statements made by two columnists in an attempt to damage the reputation of their political opponents.

First, was Jonah Goldberg's assertion that "...the ACLU... finds powers not created by the Constitution every day and periodically declares such inanities as the idea that the Constitution forbids teachers from reading "The Chronicles of Narnia" in class lest the tykes' young minds be corrupted by hidden messages about Christianity".

This sounded odd, and unlike the ACLU. I did a rather thorough web-search on the topic, and could not find a single mention of the ACLU objecting to the reading of "The Chronicles of Narnia"--and I even searched "". I only found one case where a group had objected to the use of "The Chronicles of Narnia" in public schools, and that objection came from "Americans United for the Separation of Church and State". Furthermore, even if Goldberg had confused the AUSCS with the ACLU, his representation of the situation was distorted to the point of being deceptive.

The second misrepresentation came from Ann Coulter, who wrote that "(Democrats) oppose every bust of a terrorist cell, sneering that the cells in Lackawanna, New York City, Miami, Chicago and London weren't a real threat...". I doubt that any Democratic office-holder or party-official "opposed" the bust of any group planning to commit violence. In fact, while roaming the Democratic blogosphere, I have never noticed any opposition to these busts, even though any nut can post to a blog. As I understand the debate, the relevant information is that most Democrats claim that Bush and his policies did not contribute to these successful busts. So to make it clear, Democrats were CELEBRATING these busts, while denying that Bush had anything to do with them.

I assume that both of these authors were paid for their columns, and it is disappointing to find that they got away with such shoddy research. I can find better commentary on blogs.

Adam Ricketson