The Path of Free Markets
There's obviously a very, very angry contingent in the CAPS blogosphere. They, or you guys, seem to believe that by far the best thing a government can do is to do as little as possible. You passionately believe that the free market, in the long run, does the most good for the greatest number of people, and that the government should not help out fallen industries, should not provide money to citizens down on their luck, and should not engage in any kind of "social engineering" which you believe will ultimately do more harm than good. This is even true in the case of climate change where you believe the government is only more likely to add to the problem than help solve it.
This is the why - a LIBERAL, see some things and am encouraging you guys to back up a little bit on the heated rhetoric about liberals wanting to create a nanny state, wanting to actually "destroy" America and my wanting to strangle business, limit innovation and to trip old ladies crossing Main street.
To me, America is clearly entering a phase in which two Titanic forces are working against the so-called "working" man. One is globalization. As air travel gets faster, as video conferencing gets better, as communication improves, as worldwide education improves, companies can hire from talent pools around the world, and get quality work for cheaper prices. This puts serious pressure on the average American, many of whom have lousy educations and exist in a cultural landscape that is almost openly anti-intellectual and pro-double cheeseburgers. 26% of Americans are likely obese. Our average citizen doesn't even know how to feed him/herself. Think about how utterly ridiculous that is. So, our bloated and often poorly educated citizenry is falling behind every bit as much as their behinds are falling.
Another major headwind for the working man is the digital divide. As technological progress races forward, the people with digital knowledge become more and more valuable. But it seems inevitable to me that the gap between those with legitimate technological know how and the digital ignoramouses is likely to grow. There is a massive gulf erupting between the haves and have nots when it comes it technical intelligence.
And, if that divide were not bad enough, technology itself - robots, software and digital services that require no human employee are likely to take away more and more jobs over time.
One more major bonus problem of massive proportions is overpopulation. There are just plain too many people, and as that number grows there is likely to be more and more people who fall into the horrifying category of "surplus" people. There is no meaningful labor for them to do because it technology and other people are already doing it.
To me, a LIBERAL who loves his country, believes in meritocracy, and respects varying points of view, it seems to me that capitalism is very much like the board game Monopoly. Except it is a never-ending game of a Monopoly. Just imagine how much fun it would be to play Monopoly once the board is set and some guys have hotels on Boardwalk, Park Place and whatever the heck those light green ones are that rake in all that sweet dough, while some are tuck with the lousier properties.
To me, libertarian-minded and appropriately-named Conservatives want to keep everything JUST the way it is. If any of the players step up and say, "Hey, this sucks, we have no chance" the conservative faction goes utterly beserk and gives speeches about the Nanny state, the meritocracy and the horrors of government intervention. And no matter how hard the dudes who own Baltic Avenue and it's ugly sister property, they ain't gonna catch up, not now, no way, no how, not never. So they say, "Hey, we need to adjust the rules a little here. We need some government intervention to level the playing field a bit."
The bottom line as I see it, is that I can't see how the free market will provide enough jobs and meaningful opportunity for advancement to enough people in this next 100 years. And capitalism, as I see it, has always been about the rich sticking it to the poor and middle class as hard as they can without causing all out revolution, anarchy and massive hordes of people eating each other and mating and doing boom-boom right out in the open in the street. If allowed to run completely wild, the free market will do to the world what oil companies do to Africa - allow staggering amounts of degradation, leaks, health problems and other terrible things, while a select few live in elegant, walled-off complexes, taking in all of the joys life has to offer. There has to be a seat at the table for responsible, reasonable government intervention that doesn't cause people to froth and the mouth and rail as if possessed by demons against necessary checks on the free market.
So my question to libertarian minded folks is, forgetting for a second how much you hate government intervention - what do you think the limits of libertarianism are and what are the down sides as, inevitably no system is perfect?
As Alex "TMFMarathonMan" Du Mortier always signs off, "I welcome all respectful and informed opinions" which I translate into "Please don't be an ***hole and spout back the heated, vapid crap you heard from your favorite talking head." The Fool is better than that.
H. Wood Dan