Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
I’ve never previously posted about my political awakening and journey to Radical Left Wing Liberal in this humble blog.
My political journey started as first uninterested, then a registered Libertarian, to Democrat, and on to my present Radical Liberalism. But, I started remembering my brief foray into the world of Libertarianism with the fallout over Silicon Valley Bank’s sudden collapse this past Friday.
Which brings me to the best comparison I’ve heard yet about Libertarians as house cats.
It seems no one could have anticipated that the people formerly screaming “Keep Government Hands Out Of My Business” are presently the same people screaming “Government’s First Responsibility is to Bail Out My Business!”
A Brief Current Events Primer
For those readers lucky enough avoid most current events; Last week America’s sixteenth-largest bank imploded over a 48-hour period. By most accounts, the collapse was due to a multitude of bad events all happening at the worst possible time. Which is fairly typical of all big catastrophes. However, mixed in with other issues was the lack of legal oversight and regulatory-mandated behaviors.
You might ask “why was there a lack of legal oversight and regulatory-mandated behaviors?” The answer is, because the wealthy people running our banks and industry purchased enough senators and congresscritters to get laws changed to favor them.
History Doesn’t’ Repeat, But It Rhymes
The Dodd-Frank Act was passed in June 2010, as a result of the almost destroying the global economy a mere three years earlier. The act was designed to prevent another repeat of the 2007 Great Recession, that wiped out life savings and homeowner equity for millions of working-class Americans. But had no impact on the people who caused the collapse, as our Government bailed them out with taxpayer money and failed to prosecute anyone responsible.
The Dodd-Frank Act was itself a weaker set of laws than the former Glass–Steagall Legislation. Glass-Steagall was passed in 1932 as a result of the then-Smartest Guys in the Room actually destroying the global economy, now known as the “Great Depression.” Most of Glass–Steagall was repealed in 1999 under the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, signed by none other than former President Clinton. The Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act has since been credited with creating conditions for our near global economic collapse in 2007.
So, given the background of periodic economic collapses, in 2018 Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which loosened up key reforms created by Dodd-Frank. Now, a mere four years later, we’ve had a major bank collapse traced back directly to the 2018 “loosening up” financial regulations.signed the
The common denominator with all these repeals and increasingly weaker banking regulations are the people pushing for them. All of these people loudly and consistently scream that businesses should not be restricted by government regulations, so the invisible hand of free markets can operate unimpeded and generate wealth for everyone.
Which is the unstated philosophy of Libertarianism. From the totally not-Libertarian Wikipedia we have this:
Libertarians seek to maximize autonomy and political freedom, and minimize the state’s encroachment on and violations of individual liberties; emphasizing the rule of law, pluralism, cosmopolitanism, cooperation, civil and political rights, bodily autonomy, free association, free trade, freedom of expression, freedom of choice, freedom of movement, individualism, and voluntary association. Libertarians are often skeptical of or opposed to authority, state power, warfare, militarism and nationalism, but some libertarians diverge on the scope of their opposition to existing economic and political systems.Wikipedia Entry
I wouldn’t have a problem with this philosophy. Except that, that’s not the way things seem to work in the non-Libertarian real world. Libertarian’s self-professed love of freedoms from bad government regulations and oversight conveniently always seems to stop the minute their bad decisions cost them big money. At that point, freedom seems to be conveniently re-defined as “Government has a responsibility to give back my money!”
My Foray into Libertarianism
I dipped into the world of Libertarianism when I first started developing political awareness. At first glance, the philosophy was appealing. Who doesn’t believe in personal responsibility, the rugged individual, persevering in the face of hardships and coming out a winner? This belief is deeply embedded in the American mythos.
So, the first time I registered to vote, I registered as Libertarian. Which is a recognized political party. Then, being me, I studied the Libertarian philosophy. In this, I was assisted by a financial advisor around 1990 who “helped” my first wife and I invest proceeds from the sale of my first home – a condo in San Diego. He loaned me three books by writer Robert J. Ringer, best remembered for the book “Winning Through Intimidation.”
The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.John Kenneth Galbraith
The book that made the deepest impact on me was Ringer’s “Restoring the American Dream.” This book is perhaps the best, clearest explanation of Libertarianism I’ve read, anywhere. But probably not in the way Ringer expected. In reading this book, I realized the Libertarian philosophy was nothing more than nostalgia for an imagined 19th century American frontier. An imagined life of small villages based on an agrarian economy and localized industries. A life that itself was largely the product of the U.S. Government’s Homestead Acts, giving formerly native-American-owned land to city folks so they could magically become farmers.
I also realized that imagined life had no place in our interconnected global economy. Our global economy can feel ripples in New York City from a business decision in Shanghai. Multinational companies control more wealth than small nation-states. After reading that book, and the two other loaners, I realized Libertarianism was just another search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.
I have never since been surprised at the close relationship between Republicans and Libertarians. At heart, they share the same belief system.
Tweet of The Day
Which brings me to the choicest description of Libertarians I’ve yet seen. Coming in form of a tweet between two brilliant writers and describers-of-life:
May we get through this latest economic crisis with our elected leaders showing wisdom and doing what is best for the average citizens in the country… Yeah, we’re doomed.