Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"A Culture War Has Been Launched Against Free Markets"

The Telegraph:

Iain Martin's observation - "A culture war has been launched against free markets and so far the hostilities have been astonishingly one-sided" - unfortunately applies just as much to America as to Britain. Our capitalists, from think-tank intellectuals to businessmen, are unforgivably timid in the face of an anti-capitalist onslaught of bailouts, handouts, deficit spending, and central planning. Why?

I find myself confounded by this state of affairs as well. It applies just as suitably to Canada as it does to Britain and the United States. Certainly, capitalists ought to be aware of the very real dangers posed by Keynesian economics and yet a popular and principled opposition to government intervention is nowhere to be found. What's more, this conspicuous silence is transpiring in the context of the passing of a stimulus package worth nearly a trillion dollars (once interest is accounted for) in the United States and while Canada's culture of corporate welfare continues to thrive.

Case in point: the Prime Minister of Canada, who has been derided by his political opponents for years as an hard-nosed laissez-faire capitalist, capitulates to the left in the 2009 budget without even so much as a nod of apology to his alienated supporters.

Where is the outcry? Sure, there are those who dissent but their efforts appear to be mostly half-hearted and they tend to steer clear of condemning all efforts to 'stimulate' the economy.

The author's explanation for this silence is as follows:

Because most accept the central argument behind the onslaught: that today's crisis is the result of overly free markets, that laissez-faire philosophy and economics have been discredited, and that the mess they left can only be cleaned up by government intervention.

I think that Martin's observation that a culture war has been launched against free markets is quite accurate. Unfortunately, the battles so far have been rather one-sided. If capitalism is going to survive to see the other side of this financial crisis, advocates need to ramp up their support in a big way and that means not just defending free markets but pointing out the central role that government has played in distorting market forces and in generating our current state of crisis.

So consider this a call to arms to Canadian capitalists:

"Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun. The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms. Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

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