Free Marketers Still Fighting Back

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Ben Cohen
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A reader sent me this email in response to my Huff Post article on Chile (I argued that Chile survived the recent earthquake because of government regulation, not despite it, as some free marketers have argued). Typos not mine:

this is a pretty daft article, and more
journalistic free market bashing for the sake of it.

i think its pretty hard to argue that
thepinochet regieme,a fascist government that willfully assinated
and imprisoned his oppostion could be counted as a good model of
thefree
market, so you discount your own arguments against free marketsif we actually genuinely had a free
market we might
actually be able to see how it works, but as it stands we've never
really had
one, although Thatcher in the UK came close and the UK really benefited
in the
end.

if you want a good example of free
market against
government run behemoths, you need only compare the results of NASA with
that of
Virgin Galactic. In a few short years we may have sub orbital travel
hopping
from one side of the world to another, all organised and funded by free
enterprise. On the other hand NASA has motored through trillions of
dollars had
more than half a century and has frankly been of very little benefit to
the
general public... yippee we have memory foam matterasses and microwave
ovens and
a morbund space station floating about.

I'll go through the readers baseless assertions one by one.

1. Chile under Pinochet wasn't a good example of a free market because he was a tyrant.

The vast majority of right wing economists, and notably Milton Friedman, refer to that time period as 'The Miracle of Chile'. Friedman, although not a fan of Pinochet's methods said the following: "The real miracle of Chile is that a military junta was willing to go
against its principles and support a freemarket regime designed by
principled believers in a free market. The results were spectacular."

2. Britain came close to being a true free market under Margaret Thatcher and Britain benefited from it.

This is utter, utter nonsense. Under Margaret Thatcher, the monetarist policies implemented to curb inflation did the opposite and also exacerbated unemployment. Before the Falklands war in 1983, Margaret Thatcher was one of the most unpopular prime ministers in British history almost exclusively due to her failing economic policies. Thatcher also gave giant subsidies to the military industrial complex and didn't decrease government spending at all after 17 years in power. And as for Britain being all the better for Thatcher's 'free market' economy, just ask the millions of children that were plunged into Dickensian style poverty due to the extreme cuts in social welfare.

3. Virgin Galatic is an example of the ingenuity of the private sector while NASA is an example of state funded inefficiency.

Firstly, Richard Branson built a business using airplanes funded by tax payers money, and trains built by the state owned British Rail. The Spaceport where Branson will be keeping his Galactic spacecrafts is also being funded by the tax payers of New Mexico. Secondly, NASA spinoffs provide a wealth of benefits to society, (the insulin pump being a small example) not to mention a the huge economic benefits to the local population and many private subcontractors.

Plus, NASA also put a man on the moon - and I haven't seen a private company come close to doing anything like that.