Friday, January 31, 2014
Walter Block - Another Libertarian Blockhead! ("Slavery wasn't so bad!")
Where in the hell do these economic blockheads come from? What regressive pit of offal breeds them and then disgorges them into the world to posture like madmen, confuse their students, and undermine polity in the name of some misbegotten theory? I've already expounded on one branch of these cretins, the bunch that pushed Pareto-based economics, e.g. http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2011/06/modern-economics-its-evil-basis-pareto.html
This was the work of none other than Vilfredo Pareto, who invoked the example of a "collectivity" of a wolf and a sheep - with the wolf only happy unless he could eat the sheep. (Else, only the sheep remains happy grazing on its patch of grass - while poor Wolfie starves) Thus was born modern economic theory which inverts everything sensible, such as Greenspan arguing back in 2003 that Bush tax cuts were preferable to Social Security benefits. The poor little rich folks would use the money saved from those cuts to invest and help the economy, while Social Security could be collected merely because a guy could breathe.
Pareto's model translated into the argument that the buck is worth more to the rich man, and hence, any transfer from the rich to the poor hurts the rich more than it helps the poor (especially as the 'utils' for the poor man is also rather smaller by comparison). E.g.
From this degraded bollocks, it became possible to argue - for example - that it makes more sense to give the prospective patient or person to be screened (say for colon cancer) $1,499 NOT to get the colonoscopy, than to let her get the test and consume valuable specialist time and resources via $2,000 subsidy. (Bestowed by whatever insurance allows it, say Medicare or Obamacare, or even high flier private) .
In a similar vein, these dregs argued that having 1,000 - 10,000 average Joes and Janes die each year from climatic catastrophes (or fouled water from pollutants) is more tolerable than having oil speculation losses for the rich, because then they will also pull back on their investments in ETFs (exchange traded funds), hedge funds, and all the rest ....ultimately ending in less investment banking profits and perhaps another financial collapse.
By a similar line of perverse Pareto reasoning, it made more sense for the impoverished billions in the third world to breathe filthy, polluted air than clean air. The reason is obvious: it is inefficient because if they had to pay for it, they couldn't afford it. By the same token, it makes more sense to dump the toxic wastes from advanced nations in poor nations than vice versa, because the same reasons apply: the 3rd worlders would never be able to afford their own clean up costs, so what's an extra five million gigatonnes of waste in the overall scheme of things?
Hence, from this "Libertarian-ish" style of bunkum it is not surprising that a Prof named Walter Block could spring, though I'm amazed he's at Loyola- where I studied in the 1960s (before transferring to Univ. of South Florida, where I could do astronomy with some of the best names in the discipline - including Heinrich Eichhorn, Sabatino Sofia and James Hunter).
According to a Jan. 26 New York Times Sunday Review article on the 'Rand Paul Political Brand', Block actually had stated that "slavery wasn't so bad" - taking up the long standing libbie trope that, after all, the blacks were cared for, got their 3 squares a day and some time off (Sundays) and so long as they behaved themselves they weren't flogged by the overseer. (Block ought to be forced like 'Alex' - the character of 'Clockwork Orange' - to be strapped to a seat with his eyelids fixed in place and forced to watch the whipping scenes from '12 Years a Slave' in an endless loop for at least a day)
That may cure him of his delusions, but maybe not. Most hard core libertarians are so detached from reality that they inhabit a land of delusion of their own. (In one argument some three years ago, one actually argued that the gov't had no business interfering to interject civil rights legislation, and if the blacks really wanted it they ought to have struggled on their own to achieve it.)
In a similar kind of vein, Block - in an interview response to the author of the Times piece (p.21) observed that in the 1960s:
"Woolworth's had lunchroom counters and no blacks were allowed. Did they have a right to do that? Yes, they did! No one is compelled to associate with people against their will."
But consider the consequences if this bat shit crazy meme was extended willy-nilly so that anyone could apply it. Pharmacies could refuse serving people they regarded as 'misfits' - say denying birth control pills to young, single women or not even permitting blacks to cross the doorway.
Owners of football teams could decide that they want no Jews, blacks, or gays entering their stadiums and they might put that into place. Private hospitals -operating as businesses - might decide that they want no blacks, Jews or gays on their premises either. Restaurants would feel free to bar anyone they think is marginal, including those who look like 'thugs' - or whoever doesn't fit flitty criteria like hair length, or quality of dress.
In other words, you'd invite a society bordering on chaos, and don't think for a moment that the millions of excluded folk would just sit there and take it! It is no wonder that Block describes himself as an "anarcho-capitalist". No surprise that Block's ideas were hatched from the "Austrian School" of Friedrich von Hayek. See below:
Recall that von Hayek's austerity solutions led to the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Nazism. The Wehrmacht soldiers I met in May, 1985, all agreed that Hitler would have had little chance to attain the Chancellorship had austerity measures not been implemented in the late 1920s - such that most people had to beg, borrow or steal just to get bread or feed their infants. Hitler offered a promise of plenty for all, via his concept of Lebensraum - or expanded living space. Of course, these riches would come at the expense of other nations taken over by the Nazi expansion of the Third Reich!
Today, the seeds of this aberrant thinking remain, as voting rights laws are gutted state by state and even portions of the civil rights bill are placed in peril. Meanwhile, billionaires like Peter G. Peterson want to impose austerity via cuts to Social Security and Medicare, so he and his wealthy pals - like Tim Perkins - can live high off the hog, buying up 18 giant yachts instead of 2 and fifty giant residences from Curacao to Monaco while homeless citizens have nada.
To the extent we let these fools succeed, we will all regret it, and the decline of our nation will be accelerated.
To read some of the reactions of the Loyola community to Block's bollocks, go to: