George Monbiot Dismantles Libertarian Matt Ridley. Again.

This is great stuff from George Monbiot:

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column for the Guardian exploring the contrast

between Matt Ridley’s assertions in his new book The Rational Optimist and his own

experience. In the book, Ridley attacks the “parasitic bureaucracy”,

which stifles free enterprise and excoriates governments for, among

other sins, bailing out big corporations. If only the market is left to

its own devices, he insists, and not stymied by regulations, the outcome

will be wonderful for everybody.

What Ridley glosses over

is that before he wrote this book he had an opportunity to put his

theories into practice. As chairman of Northern Rock, he was responsible, according to parliament’s

Treasury select committee
, for a “high-risk, reckless business

strategy”. Northern Rock was able to pursue this strategy as a result of

a “substantial failure of regulation” by the state. The wonderful

outcome of this experiment was the first run on a British bank since

1878, and a £27bn government bail-out.

It’s worth reading the rest of the article – Ridley is thoroughly discredited in a ruthless fashion leaving zero room for him to counter Monbiot’s points. Check the following withering put down

Ridley hilariously maintained that “no significant error has come to

light” in Bjørn Lomborg’s book The Sceptical Environmentalist. I pointed

out that it contains so many significant errors that an entire book –

The Lomborg Deception by Howard Friel – was required to document them.

Now, without having read Friel’s book, Ridley accepts that it is all

nonsense on the word of … Bjørn Lomborg! Quite right too: what more

objective reviewer of a book about Bjørn Lomborg’s errors could there be

than, er, Bjørn Lomborg? Ridley then has the blazing chutzpah to state

that “Monbiot should be embarrassed to be relying on a source of this

quality”. No, he doesn’t mean Lomborg’s rebuttal, he means Friel’s book.

I still find it amazing that people like Ridley have the guts to publish nonsense like this. As a scientist, a theory can only remain a theory if it isn’t discredited. Libertarianism has been thoroughly and spectacularly discredited, yet Ridley continues to peddle the same gibberish. Ridley’s books on evolution are fantastic. He applies a sharp analytical mind to the wonders of Darwinian selection and his entertaining writing style makes for a great read. But when it comes to politics and economics, he seems to have taken off his scientist hat and let his emotions get the better of him. What a shame.

Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.