Monday, March 31, 2008

Rush Limbaugh: Stupid?

Rush Limbaugh is not always right.  In fact, sometimes he is very wrong (hence this blog's superior accuracy rating of 99.1%, compared to Limbaugh's 98.8%).  I have informed you in this blog how Limbaugh abandoned conservatives, so far as providing guidance, in a critical part of the Republican nomination, resulting in the truly revolting "chocie" this Presidential election between John McCain and whomever.

Sometimes, Limbaugh simply lets his desire to say things in a provcative way lead him into error (some amy sometimes make the same criticism of this blog).  A case in point was Limbaugh's rant on Friday.

Limbaugh's basic point, as usual, was valid.  He was trying to make the point that leftists are constantly negative on the U.S.A., and are never proud of any aspect of our country.  They don't even seem to WANT to be "proud" of anything about this country, except people giving them the POWER to control every aspect of our lives through a massive, all powerful Federal Government.

However, this theme of Limbaugh (it is not new, of course) leads him to a corollary which is FALSE--falacious.  That corollary was expressed on FRiday in terms of:  "When is the last time you said you were "proud" of our drug companies;  when is the last time you said you were proud of our oil companies."

Limbaugh has often expressed the idea that we should be thankful/grateful for oil companies providing us with oil (which he calls the "engine of freedom"), and to drug companies for providing us with the drugs to cure our illnesses.

This is all nonsense.  It leads to the idea that private enterprise can do no wrong just because it is private enterprise.  As I have told you, private bureaucracies are not inherently better than government bureaucracies.  They are merely less dangerous, because their mistakes are correcteed by the operation of the free market.  In fact, the more BIG MERGERS we allow, the less effectivelly free market theory (based on a large number of free market units, ooperating in their own self interest, arrive at a correct allocation of resources, by an "invisible hand"--necessarily assuming that none of those free market units is so large as to be able to influence a market all by itself) works, even theoretically.

Does free market theory suggest that corporations are acting for the benefit of us all.  Yes and no. It suggests that that is the EFFECT, but NOT that free market businesses are intentionally out to advance the "public good".  No, I am NOT saying that people in corporations do not care about the public good.  I am saying that free market theory FAILS if business people are deliberately trying to advance a public policy agenda, as distinguished from producting good products at good prices.

So it makes no sense to say that we should be "proud" of drug companies for doing what they are supposed to do, in their own self-interest.  Am I "proud" of Wal-Mart for helping people buy products at reasonable prices?  Not exactly.  Unlike leftists, I don't HATE them for it.  However, what I am PROUD of is our FREE ENTERPRISE SYSTEM for producing all of those wonderful products, at reasonable prices.  Sure, individual companies should be proud of what they accoplish, but to pretend that drug companies deserve GRATITUDE for producing products to make themselves money is simply STUPID.  It misses the whole point.  We should be thankful for our SYSTEM of politicall freedom and free enterprise, rather than encouraging sophistry about how big business is doing these great things for us for which we should be grateful.

Now should we be personally thankful for the farmers (mainly big farming businesses, in our modern world), provide us so much food, so efficiently?  In one sense, obviously yes; but  in another sense, we should be grateful to the SYSTEM.  Should we be personally grateful to a drug copany that produces a cure for cancer?  Again, in one sense yes; but in a fundamental sense it is our SYSTEM to which we should be grateful.  Under our free enterprises system, as it is SUPPOSED to work (meanint not distorting it with big mergers), the companies that provide us benefit should prosper, while others FAIL. 

Limabaugh even had the nerve to suggest that we should be PROUD of the U.S. auto industry.  Give me a break.  We should be proud that our system, with the aid of JAPANESE companies, finally forced the BUREAUCRATIC, FEDERAL GOERNMENT TYPE oligopoly (3 copanies controlling an entire industry, after multiple mergers) to compete in a free market.  The auto industry is actually a prime example of how powerful private bureaucracies are not any better than a government bureaucracy.

Shold we be "proud" of our brokerage firms, morgagage compaines, and banks which ignored the nummerous warmingsigns of a housing/credit "bubble"--letting greed totally overwhlem their common sense?  "Proud" is simply not the right word.  No, we should NOT look upon these business failures as EVIL.  They are a normal part of the SELF-CORRECTING mechanism of the free market. 

This is not mere hair splitting.  This tendency of Republicans to look upon business as "good" is actually STUPID, and leads to unreasonable expectations.   Business, and big corporations, are not inherently good or inherently bad.  The free enterprise system is inherently good.  This is NOT because businesses do not make BAD mistakes.  It is because the system itself CORRECTS these mistatkes in a manner best calculated to lead to the efficient use of resources.  The ore big mergers we allow, the LESS this self-correcting mechanism works (look at how, in the "credit crisis", it is already suggested that certain financial institutions are "too big" to fail, as Chrysler was once deemed "too big to fail").

Take the oil industry.  Should we be grateful to them for making money by producing oil, gas, and gasoline?  Don't be silly.  Just as we should not hate them for making money providing us with what we need, they are not really due gratitude.  To even suggest that is to misunderstand how the free market works.  What we should worry about, as conservatives, is that MERGERS (NOT efficiency in drilling for oil) amy have materially hurt the free market in oil, gasoline, refining, etc. 

Nope.  This idea tha big business, or any business, is inherently "good" is just stupid.  Some businesses opeate better, and more ethically, than others.  It is inevitable that they will ALL make mistakes.  The beauty of the free market, if we don't allow things like big mergers to destroy the ability of free market theory to operate, is that the mistakes are not perpetuated, but automatically corrected. 

I can be proud of the accomplishments of our free enterprise system. In fact, I am.  I can even be proud of the individual accomplishments of the people of individual copanies.  But it is just nonsense for me to be "proud" of our drug companies, big oil companies, telecommunications companies, as some sort of pride in American business.  Yes, the idea is that our SYSTEM (entire system, political and economic) will enable us to COMPETE in a WORLD free market. And I AM proud that we are still able to do that, and that American businesses are meeting the challenges of a world economy.  It is STILL nonsense to be "proud" of individual industries or companies or industries on some sort of general basis (as distinguished from being proud of individual ACCOMPLISHMENTS, or our overall system).

As Limbaugh well knows, the way our SYSTEM is being undermined by leftist ideology NEGATIVE toward the U.S.A., capitalism, and business, is a worrisome thing.  If Democrats gain complete control of the country, or their philosophy does under the "leadership" of a John McCain, our ability to compete in a world free market is likely to be undermined.

Where I differ with Limbaugh is with the idea that it is PRIDE in American companies that we need.  What we need is PRIDE in our country and our SYSTEM.  More important even than that is that more people UNDERSTAND how our system is supposed to work (which automatically means not expecting things to be perfect, or for the government to be able to make them perfect).  

I just don't think this somewhat jingoistic cheerleading of Limbaugh for American industry is helpful.  In fact, I stand behind my view that it is STUPID (although Limbaugh is, overall, one of the more brilliant men around).

P.S.  You think I am wrong/exaggerating about the above?   Oh, ye of little faith.  Rush started off today talking about how the people who really make this country work:  the SMALL buinesses which hire most of the people--the smaller, free market theory type units I refer to above--as distinguished from the "corporate elites".  Rush is schizophrenic this way.  He will spend an entire day ranting about how Big Oil is SERVING America, and we should be grateful, and then TRASH the "corporate elites".  No, you can't reconcile theese two points of view.  Rush does not even try.  He simply ignores the inconsistency.  Whenever he goes off on a rant against government, ALL business suddenly becomes "good".  Then he backs off, and appears to recognize that big corporate brureaucrats/empire builders are no better than government bureaucrats/empire builders.  I stand by what I say:  I wish Rush would ore consistently stand for free market theory, instead of periodically being led into an uncritical defense of big business as providig all of these good things for us that government is not providing.

No comments: