A Benjamin Tucker Rejoinder to Matthew Yeglesias

A Benjamin Tucker Rejoinder to Matthew Yeglesias

Yeglesias praises TARP:

TARP was both a good idea and nothing less than an exposure of the myth of the free market. There’s an idea out there about a free market that operates “naturally” and produces a certain distribution of wealth and income. Any further interventions into that marketplace to ensure that prosperity is broadly shared constitutes some kind of illegitimate “redistribution” of wealth and income from its natural state. This is not, however, an accurate description of how any economy featuring a modern banking system works. A world in which we simply didn’t have banking and finance would be, overall, a much poorer world. But a world with banking and finance requires various forms of management—monetary policy, regulation of the financial system, and intervention amidst panics and crises. TARP and the associated activities of the Federal Reserve were examples of such intervention and were good ideas. But they highlight that public policy decisions are integral to the creation and sustainment of modern capitalist economies. Under the circumstances, wise and moral policymakers will necessarily attempt to ensure that the prosperity they create is broadly shared by law-abiding members of the community.

Let us recall, however, the words of Benjamin Tucker published in the very first issue of Liberty:

Holding a monopoly, the banker is the worst enemy of the human race, being it’s chief despoiler; without that monopoly he is it’s best friend, being it’s greatest civilizer.

One thing I’ve learned when discussing the term “capitalism” that quite a bit of clarity can be achieved if we instead use the term “Political Economy.” So I will grant Yeglesias’ contention that a monopoly in money is necessary for the functioning of modern “Political Economies.” I, however, will dispute Yeglesias’ assertion that “wise and moral policymakers will necessarily attempt to ensure that the prosperity they create is broadly shared by law-abiding members of the community.” This is Jesus talk. Just as the religious fundamentalist should quite with the nonsense of special creation and Adam and Eve in light of the evidence of modern evolutionary theory and RadioCarbon dating, Yglesias should quit with the supernatural gibberish of the “wise and moral policymakers.” This creature has yet to be found; I imagine it is probably hiding out in the same place as Bigfoot.

Here’s the evidence: TARP has fueled the greatest era of Robber Baron Corporatism in American History.

As far as this “law-abiding members of the community” nonsense, let us appeal again to Tucker in the same issue of Liberty:

The effect of one-half of our laws is to make criminals; the purpose of the other half is to punish them.

Progressives think TARP affirms the progressive critique of Capitalism. Libertarians think TARP affirms every bit the libertarian critique of Political Economy. One of these groups lives in DoubleThink reality while the other lives in Empirical reality. I leave it as an exercise to the reader to make that determination.

H/T: b psycho

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