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05/23/2005 Archived Entry: "Time, Rhetoric, Reality, Etc."

I'VE OFTEN WONDERED HOW RAND AND VON MISES KEPT THEIR COURAGE, living most of their lives in an era where the free market was considered to have failed. Those two (and a handful of others) stood against an era in which socialism, communism, and other forms of central management were ascendent. They stood against a worldwide intellectual flood of anti-individualism and anti-freedom.

We owe them. But how they personally endured, I've never known.

Thanks to them and that tiny handful of their contemporaries, the ideas of free markets and individualism rose again and prevail today. But what strange times we live in now. The ideas of socialism, communism, and all the related collectivisms are dead or dying. They have no credence any more, after almost a century in which they caused untold havoc. For the last 25 years or so, all the intellectual power has been behind free-markets.

And yet ... all those "free-market" ideas are being used and twisted by the same politicians and bureaucrats who would once have marshalled behind the banner of some -ism. Now we have "free-markets" in the form of statist monstrosities like NAFTA and the WTO. And who would have thought, all those years ago when Reason magazine was extolling the virtues of "privatization," that privatization would mean such cruel insanities as private prison companies lobbying the federal government to give them more, more, more, more? Or private contractors delegated by the IRS to go out and collect taxes? Or "private" corporations, founded and funded by government, running government programs like AmeriCorps?

It was better, in some ways, when the "-ismists" were more open about their plans to control everything and everybody. Now, their motives are exactly the same, but their free-market rhetoric twists our minds into a Mobius strip of endless propanda.

If I still sometimes wonder how Rand or Von Mises withstood the days of socialism, I also wonder how today's freedom lovers endure an era in which everything we once touted as a solution to big government is being twisted by governments into an excuse for more centralized power and greater oppression.

Somehow, I won't feel one bit better about national ID if Oracle is given a "private" contract to develop its databases. Or if the Department of Homeland Security is someday turned into the "Corporation for Homeland Security" with a board of directors drawn from Microsoft, Boeing, Amtrak, and the CIA.

Posted by Claire @ 03:28 PM CST

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