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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

WHAT CAUSED THE RECENT FINANCIAL MELTDOWN: AN ONGOING SERIES

Today's Buggy Topic

As usual, it's about our financial crisis --- today, more specifically, once again about the multiple causes of it --- and as usual, too, it's found at a libertarian econ-site, this time at the Marginal Revolution.  Prof bug, you see, always something of a contrarian . . . and so, given his mental habits shot through with charged emotional content --- impossible to separate in anyone's make-up, not just his --- he finds it easier to knock out a lengthy commentary in scuttling flashes if he's on the attack. 

Needless to add, there's no shortage of  countless human follies and claptrap to lay into daily, maybe even hourly or every minute, that shoot up and swarm all over the Internet . . . not least on the left and on the right.  

The Source 

Click here for the original Tyler Cowen post at his web site, the Marginal Revolution, which summarizes his New York Times article of October 19th, 2008 . . . one in a series of his weekly Times' efforts. 

Click here for the Cowen-initiated thread and prof bug's and others' comments. 

Observe Something Else n the Thread 

Note how Cowen is assaulted by dozens of faithful, Ayn Rand pledge-takers . . . Cowen himself a flexible, open-minded libertarian who has dared to break with the free-market zealots and note that the causes of the current financial meltdown can't all be traced back to governmental policies and regulations.  Nothing like angry, high-pounding ideologues on the rabid warpath when they find their ideological urges are frustrated, once more, by events, is there?

The crackling assaults on Cowen and the few others of libertarian bent who share his flexibility are simple enough to understand: in the eyes of the faithful, they're apostates . . .  fit to be put on the rack and then --- after a series of auto-de-fe expressions of repentance, coerced out of them in the Catholic Inquisitional manner  --- burned at the stake in large number as a warning to other apostates and heretics: not to forget, you understand, those of us like prof bug who aren't libertarian nuts to begin with. 

(For a good, brief summary of how the Spanish Inquisition used torture and forced confessions in its ritual public burnings, click here))

Seem Familiar, This Sour-Grapes Witchhunt-Zeal?

It should.  Tersely put, all these recriminations and rage-driven scapegoating in libertarian-land are reminescent of the furious finger-pointing and teeth-clenching apologia that shook and rattled Marxist cirles after the total collapse of the Soviet Union and the world-wide Communist movement in 1990-91.  The system of full-fledged statist-socialism, you see, was never really socialism anyway.  And, for others, it was a good system but run, you see further, by rogues and demons.   

As for the 100 million killed by Communist regimes after 1918 --- a finding set out authoritatively in a collected scholarly work published in France about a decade ago --- what do they matter compared to the 30 or 40 million native Americans killed by the Spanish and Portugueses in Latin America or the 10 million African slaves shipped to the Americas (with, lest we forget, a similar amount caravan-led to Arab countries and later the Ottoman Empire between 700 A.D. and the late 1800s . . . not to mention the half-dozen Arab states where slavery is still practiced)?  Of course, the 100 million slaughtered by Communist totalitarians have to be matched up with about 300-400 million family members terrorized by the Communists . . . but hey, once again: you can't make an omelette as the French say without breaking some eggs, can you?