Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Big Fat Greek Catastrophe

What the disclosures about scientific fraud on the part of the top global warming scientists was to the AGW enthusiasts and the Copenhagen conference, the bankruptcy of Greece -- soon to be followed by other European Union welfare states -- is to the Obama administration's domestic economic policy.

For more on the looming European catastrophe go: here, here, here, here, here, for starters. That roaring sound you hear is the waterfall toward which all welfare state societies are drifting on currents that are suddenly flowing ever more rapidly.

Meanwhile, for all its limitations, and by an order of magnitude, the free market has lifted more people from poverty to relative comfort to prosperity than any political or economic alternative in history. I say this, not as a free-marketeer, but because it is factually true, and it stands in stark contrast to the mindlessness of the current drift toward catastrophe. Greece is the morality play of the moment. It is in light of this that George Wills' remarks that I posted below (though dealing only with the U.S. political and economic situation) should be seen.


Christopherus said...

Thanks for all the great links in this excellent post, Gil.
I myself have also blogged a few choice links on this topic here and here.

ignatius said...

You may be right, Gil, but I can't help seeing unhealthy aspects of American capitalism, such as the vast expanses of good American farmland becoming shopping malls surrounded by large asphalt parking lots, which, as you certainly know, contribute to the decay of the inner cities. This list of problems could be made considerably longer.

Being a Catholic, and perhaps being well read in Chesterton, wouldn't you find a system such as distributism to be preferable? Of course, small farms and businesses do badly in today's hypercompetition, so if we ever choose to go this way, it will require some protection (government regulation?) against the big shops and farmers.

Christopherus said...

I think Eddie Lampert gives a nice paraphrase of what subsidiarity would look like here. Isn't that what the Pope prefers to talk about"?—"subsidiarity", not "distributism".

Mike O'Malley said...

"unhealthy aspects of American capitalism"?

Loss of farmland?
Shopping mall?
Decay in the inner city?

I've lived on the East Coast of the US and one of the under told stories of dramatic environmental success in the USA has the reforestation of the American East Coast as America's capitalistic market economy provided the wherewithal to take ubiquitous marginally productive small farms out of production and allow the land to return to forest land.

Suburbanization was pushed by some sectors of America's old WASP elite as public policy in the 1950s and 1960s to break up the concentrated political power of the then "feared" Catholic urban enthic political machines.

Decay in the America's inner cities has one primary cause: fatherlessness. This too was the consequence of the public policies advocated by certain elite WASP groups in the 1950s and 1960s.


Intended Consequences: Birth Control, Abortion, and the Federal Government in Modern America, by Donald T. Critchlow
Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950-1980, by Charles A Murray

Mike O'Malley said...

Thanks for cuing up Distributism, Ignatius. I'm poorly acquainted with it. However, from your description I'd worry that Distributism would in effect be a segue into the totalitarian one party rule as was the case when the National Socialist German Workers' Party offered German small businessmen and small farmers private ownership of the means of their production and protection from capitalist “hypercompetition”. I doubt that a modern society could forgo the benefits of economies of scale and large project competence of modern big business. So I'd guess that much of a modern economy under Distributism would end up under direct state control and/or ownership. I suspect that Distributism in effect would be form of economic protectionism for favored political classes at the expense of the general public. Further, from my experience as a union official, I would expect that Distributism's financially independent local co-operatives would too often be nightmares of internal interpersonal competition unless they were owned and managed in a manner that was similar to our modern commercial corporations. But I am poorly acquainted with Distributism... so thanks for stirring the pot and giving me something to think about, Ignatius.