Friday, April 29, 2011

Arguing with capitalists

Is it just me, or do libertarians, capitalists and capitalism sympathizers generally fail miserably at responding to critiques of their preferred economic system with any compelling evidence to the contrary?  Take, for example, Lee Doren.  Doren's preferred method of arguing against people like Annie Leonard (creator of The Story of Stuff), is to simply impatiently explain that the thing with which Annie has a problem is simply the way it works.  His answers are repeatedly some variation of "that's just the way things are."  His YouTube channel is actually called "How The World Works."  Apparently he is entirely unaware that no one is trying to say that this is not the way things work; we are arguing that we don't like it.

Milton Friedman appears to have the same problem-- at least, so far, 50-some pages into Free to Choose.  It's the first I've read of Friedman, and it's about what I expected, after arguments with some of my free-market loving friends throughout the years.  For example, in Chapter 2, The Tyranny of Controls:
It is simply not true that high-wage American workers are, as a group, threatened by "unfair" competition from low-wage foreign workers.  Of course, particular workers may be harmed if a new or improved product is developed abroad, or if foreign producers become able to produce such products more cheaply.  But that is no different from the effect on a particular group of workers of other American firms' developing new or improved products or discovering how to produce lower costs.  That is simply market competition in practice, the major source of the high standard of life of the American worker.  If we want to benefit from a vital, dynamic, innovative economic system, we must accept the need for mobility and adjustment.
It's constant.  Their arguments generally boil down to, "look, everything you're saying you hate about capitalism-- the greed, the pollution, the job loss, the commodification of humans, exploitation of labor, and so on and so forth-- are all valid; the thing is, we just don't want to change anything, because we benefit so much from this.  And you could too, if you were as white as me, as wealthy as me, and as willing as I am to actively and deliberately benefit from the exploitation of anything that gets in my way.  ...You lazy bum."

Going back to Lee Doren, he also loves to respond to opposing arguments with useless facts about how bad things used to be.  Like how although BFRs are neurotoxins  (approx. 2:40), and we put them in pillows and other things we want to be flame-retardant, we've potentially saved 40,000 lives as a result of this toxicity, so please be quiet about negative side effects.  As if that negates the neurotoxicity of BMRs.  And that's the real problem with these folks.  They don't address a single critique of their theories and practices, because they refuse to acknowledge things that are happening right in front of their faces:

Remember Earth Hour, where we were all supposed to shut off our lights for an hour to show our commitment to sustainable energy?  Lee Doren doesn't like the idea because, due to human achievement, we're able to have lights and electricity, so therefore, there's no problem:

Stay tuned for: The Many Reasons to Hate Andrew Breitbart.