Salon's Lame and Embarrasing Attempt to Debunk Libertarianism


Salon loves to "debunk" libertarian "myths." In Paul Bucheit's recent article, he makes all sorts of claims about libertarians, most of which are either false or strawmen.

First, Bucheit claims that "a free market is good for everyone." I don't know anyone who actually thinks "the market" is infallible. The market is a product of everyone's daily decisions. Since these decisions are made by humans who sometimes have limited information, mistakes like the Ford Pinto or buying food containing toxins occur. But when the market is free, it corrects itself. After all, it is in the interest of the faulty company not to poison its customers if they come back at all, as Costco recently did.

When the market is free, it also punishes incompetent companies for making poor decisions. Without their bailouts, General Motors and Chrysler would have defaulted because their cars no longer fit customers' tastes, as demonstrated by their high cost and low productivity. Of course, not bailing them out would have been a short-term catastrophe for everyone and everything depending on the automobile industry. However, the freed installations would have been bought off by someone else, just like how Hostess' installations were bought by a private equity company.

So Buchheit's first and second points (the second is "The market works. It just doesn't feel like it") mock the free market and are totally uncalled for. Whatever bits and pieces of it we have right now are working, and if it ever was deregulated, it can hardly be seen. If you want a living proof that free markets are good, look at the annual classification of countries. The freest countries – according to their ranking in the liberty index – are linked in that citizens have higher income at all levels, longer life expectancy, education, health, and freedom of the press.

However, I do concede that nationally, black people still have lower incomes than their white counterpart. But this has less to do with free markets than it does with institutionalized inequality and segregation. Be it with Jim Crow laws, separate but equal, minimum wage or, more recently, the war on drugs, U.S. authorities have consistently employed discriminatory practices.

Buchheit writes, "if you're not a successful individual, you must be lazy." "Success" entails taking risks. Either you get rewarded with a lot of money, or you go bankrupt. Whether your risks involve investing in the stock market or managing the day-to-day business of a company, many such risks are bound to fail. One who can "make money just by going to bed at night" should actually be saluted for his capacity at correctly predicting the market.

Finally, Buchheit's last point is "if I accomplish everything on my own, why should I pay my taxes?" This shows that he supports state-sponsored theft called taxation. Yes, taxation is theft. No private organization could forcibly take away half your income and get away with it, even if the organization provides services in return. Too much tax kills taxes, which is apparent within the U.S.

Ben Franklin once said, "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." Be it security from foreign attackers, economic downturns, or competition, relinquishing freedom inevitably leads to worse societies.