I just read an interesting yet unsurprisingly vapid and circularly-reasoned op-ed by David Brooks, in which Brooks, if I read it correctly, seems to argue for both pursuing one's happiness, and, at the same time, for living for some sort of collectivist set of obligations. It's still an interesting piece, though. After I read the NYT piece, I perused the comment section (always a hoot; always get a feel for just where a publication is coming from by said publication's comment section, trust me, it works).
While trolling the comments I happened upon an interesting comment from a reader who also happens to be a blogger at a site called "Free our Free Markets". Though he uses some pro-capitialist lingo, it seems he comes to his premises and conclusions squarely on the Krugman-type, Keynsian side of the equation...
He has a post up, "Questions for the Tea Party" (but, I thought the Tea Party was dead!) from FreeourFreeMarkets.org and I quickly answered his queries.
Here is the list of questions he compiled:
1. Are many banks too big to fail and should we consider breaking them up??
2. Do free markets need an umpire as ascribed by Milton Friedman: "But we cannot rely on custom or conscious alone to interpret and enforce the rules; we need an umpire. These then are the basic role of government in a free society; to provide a means where we can modify rules, to mediate differences among us on the meaning of rules, and to enforce compliance with the rules on the part of those few who otherwise would not play the game."
3. Is the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United OK, or should it be repealed?
4. Should anti-trust legislation be implemented to break up monopolies and oligopolies?
5. Should we get out of Afghanistan?
6. Should the health care law be amended to bust up the oligopolies in the insurance industry?
7. What is more important to our long term survival; education or military?
8. Should there be no tax increases on the super wealthy?
1) Many are too big to fail but only because of crony capitalism. Who would be in charge of breaking the banks up? The same regulators who failed us? The same political cronies that pushed the Community Reinvestment Act and destroyed our economy? Let bad banks fail; don't place the burden of "bailing them out" on the taxpayer; let the free market decide and everything else will work out.
2) Free markets may "need" an umpire, the problem, however is "who" the umpire is. Is the umpire a Dick Nixon-type character? A benevolent Philosopher King? A loony right-winger? A Bolshevik leftist? Ideal and impartial "umpires" of the free market: The rule of law and the enforcement of contract law.
3) The decision is OK; free speech is free speech.
4) No. Allow consumers and the free market decide.
6) The health care law should be repealed in its entirety. There should be more competition in the insurance industry and we need to get there by market forces.
7) Education; but getting the government (especially Federal) out of education is the only way to save our education system in America. Also, we need far more diversity of thought and opinion in the halls of academia. Our military stance going forward should be simple: if you attack us, we will wipe you off the face of the earth (and when we say that we follow through and prove we mean it); otherwise the affairs of nations are, for the most part, none of our business.
8) No. This nation does not have a revenue or lack-of-taxing-anyone problem. Ever see how many days of current-day deficit spending Obama's soak-the-rich tax "plan" covers? What is it, two weeks or so? Thinking that we can fix this nation's fiscal ills by taxing the "rich" (even more than they are) is a dangerous pipe dream. Close the govt-spending credit card and start cutting. Start at the Military-Industrial complex and move your way down through every single department. Shutter the EPA; close the Department of Education. I can list dozens more agencies/departments that could be closed and/or shipped off to the states.
(Further noted: Since the author of both the site and poll seems fixated upon "breaking up" monopolies and oligopolies, perhaps he would agree with breaking up the biggest monopoly/oligopoly in the history of mankind - the United States Federal government and sending its "responsibilities," mandates, regulations, et al. back to the 50 states that it monopolizes.
Now that's a "break up" I support.
Updated: Stephen Banicki (the econo blogger behind "Free Our Free Market" was kind enough to update his post with my answers to his query. I can't get back to him tonight (as he continues the discussion) but would like any of you to take a stab at it (especially my SLOB friends).