Friday, February 20, 2009


Today's post over at the Boston Globe's Big Picture photo blog that shows pictures of people all over the world at their jobs prompted the following comment from one reader:
These photos highlight the creation of real wealth -- human toil turning natural resources into products which benefit everyone. You do not see a lot of government operations in these photos - governments do not create wealth. Everything they do comes at the expense of society's real producers.
It is important that we do not allow our governments to interfere in the mutually beneficial free exchange of goods and services, such as those depicted here, by engaging in "loser wins" bailouts and fallacious stimulus packages which do little more than expand the influence of politicians' decisions and crush the private sector's ability to produce.
Amen. Of course this also led to this response:
Actually all of the Chinese operations are probably state owned to one degree or another. Too bad the Chinese haven't been able to embrace "free enterprise" with all that GOVERNMENT mucking things up... they might actually get their products out there ~ make a profit perhaps....
And here in the States ~ boy I wish I had clean water, police and fire protection, electricity, paved roads, national parks ~ damn that government! They get in the way of EVERYTHING.
Now, on the one hand you can view this as just the ranting of some anonymous guy. But I think that there are a lot of people that really think this way. In fact, it made me recall this column from Thomas Friedman in which he equated the Republican freshman class of 1994 with anarchists who would feel right at home in the misery of sub-Saharan Africa where there are no taxes, gun control or welfare.

What a joke. Why is it that when people on the right criticize big government that the left frequently responds in this manner by talking about roads, police and fire departments -- as if that was the sum total? It's a complete strawman argument. And praise for the Chinese government, really? Of course most of those state owned enterprises are hemorrhaging money and are being privatized as fast as possible. Friedman, meanwhile, willingly conflates advocacy of limited government with no government.

It's the intellectually dishonety of such arguments that really makes you wonder. If these people were on the correct side you'd think they wouldn't have to resort to such mischaracterizations.

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