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Toby Rogers has been one of the heroes of the medical-freedom movement since before most Americans knew there was a need for a medical-freedom movement. (His cost-benefit analysis of the Covid-19 vaccines is just one example of what he has contributed here.) He recently wrote a lengthy post in which he asks, essentially, “since both free markets and the progressive regulatory state have failed, what’s next for humanity?”
My reply to Toby follows.
I hope you are sincere in welcoming corrections. Because there are some fundamental errors here, and I hope you will be open to hearing about them.
Let me start by saying that there is a story about free markets that is told to everyone who goes through a government school in America (and I imagine elsewhere). The story goes something like this: “Free markets are all well and good in theory, but in practice they produce monopolies that are no longer accountable to their customers and must be reined in by the government.”
This story is a lie. And if you understand why the government lies about all the other things it lies about, I think you’ll understand why it has an interest in perpetrating this lie too.
With that in mind:
1. You say: “The dirty little secret of classical liberalism is that it came to depend on both slavery and colonial empire to infuse wealth into the system.”
In fact, colonial empire was a drain on the British economy. Yes, it made a few people – “John Company”, and other cronies, along with the crown itself – very wealthy. But it did so at the expense of everyone else in Britain.
This book presents an accounting of all of this. From the description:
“…empire profits were earned at a substantial cost to the taxpayer. [The authors] depict British imperialism as a mechanism to effect an income transfer from the tax-paying middle class to the elites in which the ownership of imperial enterprise was heavily concentrated, with some slight net transfer to the colonies in the process.”
The reality is that both the ideals of classical liberalism, and the economic interests of the population as a whole, were very much at odds with British imperialism, and the mercantilist system – which was precisely what Adam Smith addressed in his “Wealth of Nations.”
2. You say: “…and “Adam Smith’s famed “butcher, baker, and brewer” got rich from being downstream of the enormous wealth generated when Scotland cornered the market for new world tobacco (which was slave-grown…”
I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make here. That markets cannot function without an assist from slavery? But that’s patently untrue. You must recognize that the world is overflowing with examples that contradict that claim. So what are you saying?
3. Your description of progressivism:
“Progressivism was a reaction by the middle and upper classes against the failures of both liberalism and Marxism while attempting to retain the best aspects of both — seeking to preserve individual liberties while using the state to impose limits on corporate power. Progressive muckraker Upton Sinclair described the disgusting practices of meat packing plants in The Jungle and this led to the Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906. Support for anti-trust action to break up large monopolies was another hallmark of progressivism.”
To begin with, “The Jungle” was completely made-up fiction. Lawrence Reed has written a thorough expose of this book and the mythology around it.
“…historians with an ideological axe to grind against the market usually ignore an authoritative 1906 report of the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Husbandry. Its investigators provided a point-by-point refutation of the worst of Sinclair’s allegations, some of which they labeled as “willful and deliberate misrepresentations of fact,” “atrocious exaggeration,” and “not at all characteristic.””
“According to the popular myth, there were no government inspectors before Congress acted in response toThe Jungle, and the greedy meat packers fought federal inspection all the way. The truth is that not only did government inspection exist, but meat packers themselves supported it and were in the forefront of the effort to extend it so as to ensnare their smaller, unregulated competitors.”
It’s worth reading the whole piece by Reed, to get the full sense of the extent to which this novel really was nothing more than anti-capitalist propaganda. (There’s a reason it is required reading in so many government schools.)
More broadly, the myth that government regulation was borne of a desire to “impose limits on corporate power” is simply not true. The historical reality is that established businesses not only supported regulation of their industries, but were instrumental in setting up the regulatory state.
... Read the rest here.