Information Landmine

"The Americans keep telling us how successful their system is. Then they remind us not to stray too far from our hotel at night." - An un-named EU trade representative quoted during international trade talks in Denver, Colorado, 1997.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Right-wing Apocalypse

Fresh on the heels of the Republican Party's resounding defeat in the US midterm elections comes the news that guru of the laissez faire brand of modern capitalism Milton Friedman has shuffled off this mortal coil at the age of 94. The most influential economist of the past 50 years, Friedman's faith in and advocacy of free markets and small government as a socio-economic magic elixir at times bordered on the touching but nevertheless served as a crucial inspiration within the conservative movement during its rise to power in both the US and Britain.

Friedman's theories and philosophy would heavily influence, if not define, the economic policies which conservative firebrands such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher brought to bear once in office. The Iron Lady was a particularly noted disciple of monetarism, the theory with which Friedman is most closely associated, which, broadly speaking, asserts that control of the money supply is the key to maintaining economic stability in a modern, industrialized economy.

One's analysis of Friedman's legacy tends to be heavily influenced by whether the economic growth of the past 30 years is adjudged to have outweighed the social and environmental costs that have been paid in order to achieve it, including the ever-growing gap between the super-rich and everybody else and the rape of the planet's resources, all of which were accelerated as a result of the economic deregulation which Uncle Milty so staunchly advocated. Personally, I'm with these guys.

Be that as it may, being the compassionate lot that we are here at Information Landmine, we extend our condolences to all capitalists, right-wing conservatives, and leader writers at The Economist, Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal, whose collective weekend is sure to be that little bit sadder as a result of this news. Cheer up, guys: Alan Greenspan is only 80.


Blogger Uncle Petie said...

As I said in my last post, my feeling is the idea that Thatcher and Reagan were dedicated to the idea of a small government that staid out of the market is pretty much a fiction. They just shifted state subsidies towards other things (like Star-Wars) and selectively flashed their libertarian credentials when they had to dismantle public services or bust unions.

17 November, 2006 17:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

no mention of freidman's role in abolishing the draft (along with a certain A Greenspan.) ?

of course all talk is academic if Cahrlie Rangel gets his way.

22 November, 2006 10:55  
Blogger Uncle Petie said...

I can't speak for Steve on this, but, for the record, my feeling is that Friedman was a basically honourable man, with a passionate devotion to a somewhat naive view freedom. The draft is probably quite a good example of this. No-one is now forced to join the army, but, without wishing to sound like John Kerry, the US army now just seems to be in the business of suckering in a lot of kids too dumb to know any better. As with so much of modern life, I know of no higher wisdom on the subject than the Simpsons:

I think he's a bit nuts, but you can see Rangel's point: it'd make those who actually send people to war think a little harder about it if there was a possibility that their kids (or at least rich, middle-class kids who looked a bit like theirs) were going to be getting shot at, decapitated on the internet etc. It's all a little bit easier when you can tell yourself that the kids are there of their own free will.

22 November, 2006 12:19  
Anonymous DrummerDave said...

It's an unpopular opinion, certainly, but I do see a logic to having every 18 year old required to join the military for one or two years. Granted, I don't want my child to have to go to war, but, to your point, it would make how we run our military significantly different.

25 November, 2006 22:50  
Blogger Steve said...

I was kind of waiting for someone to mention Friedman's (and, indeed, Greenspan's) opposition to the draft. While opposing forced conscription is highly laudable, in this particular case it is not without irony when one considers the way that the cry of "free enterprise" has been used to fuel both militarism at home and war throughout the developing world, usually on purely ideological grounds ("Freedom lovin' folk vs. 'The Commies'"), from Vietnam to Nicaragua to... who knows? Venezuela next, perhaps?

Probably not the latter, actually, as long as US attention and resources are tied up elsewhere.

27 November, 2006 17:53  
Blogger Steve said...

Actually, when I say "purely ideological grounds", that's not altogether accurate unless you take out the word "purely". While ideological principles have had a major part to play in unleashing war and destruction across the planet, it's been apparent that most recent conflicts have also been driven by more down-to-earth concerns such as the prospect of the well-to-do making - or losing - loads of money. Whether the stake has been the control of Iraqi oil fields or the loss of control of Vietnamese rubber plantations, dollars talk in a loud and persistent voice. And that's before we even discuss the economic benefits of war for the military-industrial complex.

29 November, 2006 00:16  

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