It’s not surprising that many conservative House Republicans, after railing against socialism and interventionism, are caving in and embracing the $700,000 billion (probably more like $1.5 trillion after all is said and done) bailout of their Wall Street friends and cronies who fund their campaigns and political party. Isn’t this what conservatives have done ever since the New Deal? Hasn’t their game been to employ libertarian mantras — “free enterprise, private property, free markets, limited government” — while supporting every socialist and interventionist scheme that liberals have sent down the pike? Isn’t it both amusing and tragic to see conservative leader George W. Bush and congressional liberals jointly leading the charge for the socialist bailout of the rich and influential?
As we here at The Future of Freedom Foundation have been pointing out for almost 20 years, there’s really not a dime’s worth of difference between conservatives and liberals. Yes, it’s true that conservatives employ libertarian slogans on their stationery, websites, and promotional materials while liberals do not, but no one can deny that conservatives and liberals share the same fundamental commitment to socialism, interventionism, and, yes, even imperialism.
Now, it’s true that liberals, by and large, have a much deeper appreciation of civil liberties and the principles of the Bill of Rights than conservatives. In fact, even conservatives will agree that in this area, conservatives have been a disaster. We have long seen the negative attitude among conservatives toward the Bill of Rights insofar as criminal cases are concerned. But the animosity toward such protections reared its ugly head in full force after 9/11, with conservative support of Guantanamo Bay, torture, sex abuse, rendition, kidnapping, denial of due process, denial of speedy trials, presumption of guilt, military tribunals, secret detention camps, cancelation of habeas corpus, warrantless searches, denial of right to counsel, and disappearances and murders of detainees. But let’s not forget that many liberals in Congress have also ardently supported such things.
The real battle for the future of America is between libertarians, on the one side, and statists on other side, with the statists consisting of both conservatives and liberals. Only the libertarians are consistent defenders of all aspects of liberty, including economic liberty and civil liberty.
Among the ongoing battles between libertarians and statists is with respect to cause and effect. Since they have come to view the federal government as a daddy or, even worse, a god, statists cannot bring themselves to believe that the federal government has caused their woes. Thus, their knee-jerk reaction to the failures of socialism, interventionism, and imperialism is to find a scapegoat, which more often than not turns out to be “freedom.”
For example, after 9/11 the statists immediately announced that the problem was that the terrorists hated America for its “freedom and values.” Libertarians, on the other hand, showed that freedom had nothing to do with it. Instead, the problem was anger and rage arising from U.S. foreign policy —— that is, the bad things that the U.S. government had been doing to people in the Middle East. To statists, the libertarian position was heresy or treason.
Now, we’re seeing the same type of debate play out in the financial crisis. The statists are saying that the problem is with freedom. They’re exclaiming against unfettered capitalism, laissez faire, and a lack of regulation and calling for socialism and interventionism as the solution to the crisis. Libertarians, on the other hand, are showing that the financial crisis was caused by interventionism and, therefore, that the only genuine solution lies with freedom and free markets.
Ultimately, the American people have to make up their own minds. The stakes are high. As everyone knows, if the physician gets the diagnosis wrong, he’s likely to get the prescription wrong. For the past couple of weeks, we have been linking to a multitude of articles that explain how interventionism is at the root of America’s financial woes, why more socialism and interventionism is not the answer, and why economic liberty and genuine free markets (that is, free from government control or regulation) is the solution. For those who wish to explore the libertarian analysis on the financial crisis, here is a list of the articles we have linked to during the past two weeks:
A Bailout for All Our Bad Decisions by Mark Sanford
Bernanke’s Hype by David R. Henderson
Government Leaves Fingerprints on Financial Crisis by Charles N. Steele
State Capitalism in Crisis by Sheldon Richman
Understanding the Crisis by Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.
The Glories of Change by Jeffrey A. Tucker
Wall Street Socialism by Alvaro Vargas Llosa
The Creation of the Second Great Depression by Ron Paul
Paulson’s Plan Is “Welfare for the Rich” (Video) by Jim Rogers
The Economic Outlook by Ron Paul
The War No One Mentions by Jacob G. Hornberger
Bailouts Will Lead to Rough Economic Ride by Ron Paul
Reject Bailout Rush to Socialism by David Littman
“Crony Capitalism” Crackup by Jack Kelly
Credit Is Flowing, Sky Is Not Falling, Don’t Panic by Robert Higgs
The Bailout Will Kill the Dollar by Dave Lindorff
Government Failure by Sheldon Richman
Too Few Regulations? No, Just Ineffective Ones by Tyler Cowen
Organic Market by Russell Roberts
Free Market to the Rescue by Donald J. Boudreaux
Short-Circuit by Seth Freedman
Finance Bailout Favors by Anthony Randazzo
Crony Socialism by Jacob G. Hornberger
The Statist Impulse to Avoid Responsibility by Jacob G. Hornberger
The Looming Threat of National Bankruptcy by Jacob G. Hornberger
An Interventionist Crisis by Jacob G. Hornberger
A Liberal and Conservative Box by Jacob G. Hornberger
Just Blame the Crises on Freedom by Jacob G. Hornberger
Freedom, Socialism, and the Truman Show by Jacob G. Hornberger
Government Bailouts and Government Schooling by Jacob G. Hornberger