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Friday, February 20

Milton Friedman doesn't get off the hook just because he's dead

Yesterday Dan Riehl wrote a review of my Red Tories post for his Riehl World View blog. I liked his observations so much that I published them as an introduction to the post.

I think that unless some version of Phillip Blond's Red Tories manifesto is adopted in the USA the gulf between Washington and the rest of the country is only going to widen -- so much so that we could be looking at the breakup of the union.

Yet the political platforms of the Democrats and Republicans are designed more to tear down the opposing party than find fresh approaches to today's issues. And both parties are clinging to tenets that in many cases no longer have relevance in the present context of affairs; because of this they've backed themselves into contradictory arguments.

The other night CNBC aired a speech by the late economist Milton Friedman; during the Q&A he observed that whatever criticism one might have of globalization people had to remember that it had lifted hundreds of millions of people around the globe out of abject poverty.

I interject that when I mentioned his comments in my post of yesterday I wrote that CNBC aired a speech that Mr Friedman had given the other night. I have corrected the error (Milton Friedman died in 2006), but dead or alive he doesn't get off the hook.

His claim about the benefits of globalization was a sweeping statement but if we accept it at face value, what would Mr Friedman say when confronted with an American worker who must compete with the entire world by sitting in commuter traffic four hours a day and working two jobs -- just so he can afford enough in interest payments to make it to the next payday, and who has no hope of climbing out of crushing debt?

Capitalism, which supports globalized trade, is rooted in the profit motive. Would Mr Friedman ask the worker to abandon the linchpin of capitalism so that the rest of the world could climb out of poverty?

If so, in effect Mr Friedman would be demanding that the worker act in the manner of a monastic who renounces worldly desires -- a monastic who must also keep up his income tax payments.

There are sound defenses for certain aspects of globalization. But to base a defense on the premise that the American worker must be enough of a capitalist to work by rules that stack against him in the global marketplace, and enough of an altruist to sacrifice his best interests to the global good, is to talk gibberish.

Yet it is just such gibberish that Republican invoke in their arguments for keeping Americans working for diminishing returns in order to support globalization measures that do not serve their best interests.

As for the Democrats -- when it comes to the point where "progressivism" means a rehash of Saul Alinsky's ideas and "change" means the Chicago Way of getting things done, you know it's the end of the road.

Phillip Blond's manifesto avoids the blind alleys into which Republicans and Democrats have wandered. When you strip it down he's simply calling for a return to common sense.
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Update
This entry is cross-posted at RBO (with a fabulous Wake Up America poster) and Uppity Woman, and linked at Riehl World View with some very interesting comments by Dan Riehl on Blond's localism -- and how America can readily adapt his ideas.
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