By Ben Cohen
A reader writes in response to my interview with Noam Chomsky (spelling errors not mine):
Chomsky may be a brilliant linguist but he hardly gets the economy. His
position on extremism is biased obviously, because he's mad at Bush's
arrogance not the position. He wasn't clamoring against Clinton when he
lobbed cruise missiles at Iraq to distract us all from Monica, and
neither were you or the rest of the left. The hypocrisy of the left is
embarrassing to watch. The housing bubble was created by Clinton to
give away houses to get more consumers because he is a Keynesian and
believes in a flawed economic theory. Reagan had real growth because we
actually built real things and were taxed less in the eighties. These
'externalities' that Mr. Chomsky speaks of are delusions of someone
ignorant of how economics actually work. The 'externalities' that
happen on the margin are that the risks are never actuallized when the
big hand of government doesn't allow the actual failure of the poor or
the rich to teach them what not to do in the future. We complain that
we don't help the poor, but we do, and then complain when we do help
the rich but we don't(by bailing them out and not letting their poor
risk taking, actually extend some consequence to everyone that it
touches.) If I invest in Lehman and got burned becasue they took
unecessary risk, I learn not to invest in Lehman in the future or other
large firms that seem to be too big to be wrong... Its shallow to blame
Bush here when all the politicians here are dirty. ANd its wrong to
exult Chomsky because he's smarter than you.
A concerned voter for McCain and the Constituion (not the policies of the flawed Constitution)
p.s. thanks for thinking though, and getting past "feeling Hope" for change.
Firstly, it's great to have readers participate in debate, but it would help if they'd actually done any research on the topic they choose to write in about. I'll rebut the readers arguments point by point:
1. Chomsky was vehemently opposed to Clinton's bombing and sanctions on Iraq during the 90's.
2. I'm not sure which houses Clinton 'gave away' to 'get more consumers', but the point about Clinton helping create the housing crisis is partly true, but not because he was a 'Keynesian'. Clinton presided over massive deregulation of the financial sector, which lead to dodgy loans and easy credit, precisely the economics Reagan advocated. This is the underpinning of our economic crisis, not government housing projects (or the silly argument the Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac are the primary causes).
3. The third point about letting the market work by teaching everyone a lesson when companies fail is just silly. Pure free markets never work, and always result in an economic meltdown (just look at Latin America). The government steps in and saves the day but refuses to do anything for the poor (47 million Americans without health care, unprecedented wealth inequality, child poverty, lack of public transport ect). Bailouts are part of the hidden history of capitalism, and are essential if you want the system to keep working as is.
4. I agree, Bush should not be held solely responsible for the economic meltdown. It was a bipartisan effort.
And as for exulting Chomsky for being smarter than me, I don't apologize for that, as he was 100% right.