We’re Not Anarchists

A discussion that came out of the topic of the recent West Virginia chemical spill brought up the EPA and Capitalism.   I think that the left has an extremely warped view of what capitalism is, and probably a way too large chunk of people on the right have never really thought about it and can’t properly describe it, either.

Yes, it’s a horse I tend to beat a lot, and I’ll probably beat it until after it’s dead.  If we ever get that far.

What people don’t get is that “Capitalism” is a term used to describe a free market (I think Marx actually coined it — or if not, he was one of the first to use it). It’s not really a designed system like state-run economies. It’s an economy run by people working it out among themselves. It’s a description of something that occurs in nature. More of a label, really, than a description. But any attempt to define this economic process which falls naturally out of human nature either describes it well, or it doesn’t. It doesn’t change what is.

In contrast, there are state-run economies. In theory, there are no “poor” in the state-run imaginary utopian economic systems (invariably based on some flavor of Marxism). In theory. But that’s never the case. Capitalists don’t claim that the free market system will end poverty. It does, however, provide pathways out of it. And in such an economy, everybody gets richer over time. Which is why the statists had to invent the GINI (envy) index. In a free market economy, there’s a rising tide. In a centrally run economy, the tide is constantly going out.


Now, I suppose there are a few people that believe there should be no laws that regulate behavior in this this type of economy. The relative anarchists. Those people are few and far between, even in the circles most of us here run in. The kinds of regulation that are needed are laws against fraud, coersion, theft, and property damages. Our watershed (and air, and land) are rightly a public good because it’s naturally occurring, and there’s no way to separate what you did to the water on your land from the water that other people eventually drink, and we all need it. It affects everything. So yes, we need laws that address this and an enforcement mechanism. I haven’t run into anyone in our group or at any Tea Party type gathering that believes otherwise.

A proper free market economy needs this kind of regulation. And regulations and penalties should be proportional to the potential damage. So something like this would rank high on the list, whereas forbidding a farmer to use a portion of his land because a large puddle occasionally develops in a depression on his land and the EPA comes in and declares it a “wetland” … well that’s clearly an overstep, and would never pass a vote of the people or their representatives.

I actually don’t have a problem with having agencies such as an EPA — however, they should exist only to oversee and help enforce laws duly passed by Congress and signed by the President — they should have no authority to effectively make law themselves. This is where we’ve gone wrong with these agencies.

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8 thoughts on “We’re Not Anarchists

  1. Pingback: Propaganda Devoid of Fact | Rotten Chestnuts

  2. Severian

    The more I study leftists, the more I come to believe that it’s all psychological.

    Teenagers are the ultimate conspiracy theorists. Janey and the cheerleaders are talking about me behind my back. I didn’t make the football team because Coach Smith is pals with Johnny’s dad, so Johnny got my spot. I failed that test because Mrs. Jones hates kids like me — who question stuff and think for themselves!!– and is always coming up with new ways to suppress our freedom of thought.

    The key step in the transition to adulthood is the realization that you’re just one of 200 names on a roster to Mrs. Jones, Coach Smith never heard of you, and Janey not only doesn’t talk about you, but never even thinks of you, because she’s just as self-involved as you are.

    Somehow Our Betters never really internalize that. They can’t grok that the “invisible hand” is a metaphor. They see the world teenager style — economic activity is important only insofar as it affects me. If it’s good, I’m just getting what I deserve. If it’s bad, they’re out to get me.

    It’s been a while since I’ve read the Communist Manifesto, but I don’t recall Marx himself being that naive. He was describing the outcome of behavior — people who possess capital tend to behave in certain ways, hence “capitalism.” They don’t actually get together and form a frat with secret handshakes and stuff, and hold weekly meetings about how to more efficiently screw over their enemies. Teenage losers do, though — or at least they’d like to — and so naturally Our Betters, the liberals, believe this is how “capitalists” operate.

    1. Gary

      The more I study leftists, the more I come to believe that it’s all psychological.

      It seems like almost every time I comment here, I’m making some point about people’s psychology (eg the recent Conservation of Misery Law, Cognitive Dissonance is Bullshit, etc), as if I were a social worker or frustrated psych major.

      I pondered this awhile and realized the reason is that many of the left’s positions are so demented I have no stomach for engaging in the absurd task of refuting them (though I think it’s essential and am grateful to those who do the nasty trench warfare). So I skip the middleman and go directly to the question of how seemingly normal people can believe such patently moronic ideas, such as:
      a) Obamacare (or government-directed health care) is an excellent idea;
      b) Almost any variant of the idea that we need more government–and taxes to pay for it–because clearly the government we already have is doing such fine job. And more diversion (ie theft) of tax money will certainly do only good.
      c) Men are evil and women are brutally oppressed (or any other identity-politics nonsense);
      d) “The science is settled” in the global warming (er, climate change) debate.
      etc, etc, etc

      Of course the danger of this “skip-the-middleman” approach is that I might blithely ignore some legitimate issue and pompously skip directly to the psychobabble, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take–especially when responding to the horrifying brutalization of women caused by naming potato chips “Man Crisps” and the profound tweet-commentary on this vital issue: “i can not explain how absolutely fucking pissed off angry this shit makes me.”

      Seriously, do you have the stomach to engage in the tediously-silly, obnoxious, boring back-and-forth necessary to argue that “Man Crisps” do not actually oppress women?

      1. Severian

        Gary,

        your psych comments are appreciated! They keep me on my toes. But like you, I find liberal positions just so aberrant that I have to look elsewhere….

        The problem might be that while Freud was considered some kind of crazy hippie radical in his day, from our perspective he was a nice solid MittelEuropean bourgeois. So were most psych researchers, actually. So maybe the baseline they got for “normal” is actually “conservative” by our standards. And since liberals are both utter conformists and completely immune to self-reflection, the leftoids who took over psych research in the Sixties never realized that nobody they knew fit the “normal” profile. There really should be three “Intro to Psych” classes: Psych for Conservatives, Psych for Liberals, and Truly Aberrant Psych for Jeffrey Dahmer types.

        This might eliminate a lot of confusion. “Patient A seems to behave as if cognitive dissonance were bullshit. Oh, wait — she’s an Obama voter. Per Intro to Liberal Psych 101, cognitive dissonance doesn’t exist for those people….”

        The task of therapy, then, would be to get those people emotionally stable enough to start bringing their weird liberal psychology back in line with observable reality….

  3. philmon Post author

    Yeah, some of the same people were posting “Hey, my 401K went up 31% in 2013. Thanks Obama!

    And [sarc]“I’m sure it had nothing to do with Barack Obama’s policies”[/sarc]

    Yeah, I get it. Anything good that happens while Obama is president is directly attributable to His Awesomeness, and anything bad that happens while Obama is president is Bush’s fault.

    But, of course, the real question for these people is … how much is the June 2007 portion of your portfolio worth today in 2007 dollars … and … the main reason the stock market is up is there’s nowhere else to put your money right now. And it’s at much higher risk.

    The other economic indicators suck. It’s another bubble. And it will pop.

    Second verse, same as the first.

    Hold on to your jobs, boys.

    1. Severian

      And [sarc]“I’m sure it had nothing to do with Barack Obama’s policies”[/sarc]

      Ok, explain how.

      No, seriously: Which specific policy added value to your 401k? By which mechanism or mechanisms did it operate?

      What? You don’t know? And [sarc] I’m sure that has nothing to do with you being a preening narcissistic jackass who has confused HTML tags with arguments. [/sarc]

  4. Gary

    It’s [Capitalism’s] not really a designed system like state-run economies. It’s an economy run by people working it out among themselves.

    I described it as “freedom applied to the economic realm” to a friend who seemed confused about it. I think he was confused in part because the statists love to spread lies about it, eg the conspiratorial “invisible hand” Severian described above and various versions of it being some sort of “designed system like state-run economies” rather than a set of things that arise naturally when individuals are free to buy and sell as they please. I prefer “free markets” because “Capitalism” sounds too much like other “isms” (Socialism, Communism, Fascism, etc)–and too much like a system run by those with capital.

    1. Severian

      That’s because lefties got to name it. They can’t help but think in terms of “-isms.” Being utter conformists, they can’t grok the idea that not everything in life is somehow dictated from above. And once you’ve got an “-ism” in your head, it’s nearly impossible to get it out.

      I often find myself arguing, for example, that these days the US is all but fascist, and we’re heading further (and faster!) down that road every day. Which may be wrong — and lord knows I’m not immune to the lure of -isms either — but a lot of the objections to that idea seem to boil down to “well, Obama hasn’t put anybody in concentration camps… yet.”

      Which has nothing to do with fascism, the political theory/system. They’re probably necessary to it, sure, but nobody says democracies are police states because municipal police are necessary in a democracy. I’m describing the theory, not the implementation. Which is why I (and Mussolini) call it “corporatism” — it gets the idea across without all the goose-stepping baggage.

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