Ramblings from the Desert

The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. ~Benjamin Franklin

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Location: New Mexico

Author of the urban fantasy novel, The Music of Chaos, and the paranormal romance, The Canvas Thief.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Collateral Damage

On the Internet, libertarians are like a campfire horror monster. Speak their name and they appear. Pandagon has one infesting a comment thread about Rand Paul's (what a name) desire to dismantle the Civil Rights Act. Troll boy is arguing that forcing a racist proprietor to serve minorities infringes on the bigot's dignity. Oh. Boy.

The thing (well the main thing, as there are many) that libertarians seem to ignore in their little free-market wet dream, is the collateral damage that goes with this kind of economic free-for-all.

Going back to the racist troll, let's play along with his crazy little scenario. Let pretend that businesses were free of those icky laws forbidding discrimination. Which means that in any small town in America, the owners of the town's only supermarket could decide that they would no longer sell to black folks.

According to the libertarian, this isn't a problem because the market would provide, like uh, Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, in this case a brand new supermarket that was friendly to people of color.

The market will provide, riiight. But okay, we're still playing along. The question is where, while the market is getting around to opening a new supermarket, are the town's minorities supposed to get their groceries? New enterprises don't just spring up overnight.

Because libertarians, when backed into a corner, will engage in fantastic mental gymnastics, I imagine a twisted response where the affected families are at fault for living in a white community and they should simply move somewhere where market forces are more conducive to um, ... living. Or something.

The crux of the libertarian myopic view is that government regulations unnecessary. For example, those that monitor the safety of consumer goods are unnecessary because, ...wait for it...the market will sort the bad products from the good.

Again, ignoring collateral damage. Hint, by collateral I mean "people."

Let's say, in the happy land of Libertarianasia, I start a car company and manufacture a car. Let's call it the "Greyhound." It's speedy, it's fuel efficient, it's got a GPS. And, thanks to a manufacturing glitch, it occasionally explodes on ignition. Kablooey!

This being a land rule by the benevolent free-market, word eventually gets around that my cars explode, people stop buying, and I go out of business. Problem solved.

Except to get to this outcome, human beings (probably many) had to die, blown to bits by my defective product.

Even if the free, unregulated market were truly an effective mechanism for culling the bad players (it's not), that would still leave us, the consumers, as unwitting guinea pigs.

The collateral damage, a sacrifice, I guess, to the free market god.

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