Friday, November 17, 2006
Milton Friedman’s “Capitalism and Freedom” has been one of the defining works of the last 100 years, and it personally altered my outlook on markets and individual freedom. He will surely be missed, but his contributions to economic theory will unquestionably live on.
I admit that when I first read Friedman, I hated his work with a passion. Granted, I was a very hard socialist at the time, and the concept of individual rights and choices ran counter to my ideological perspective. It wasn’t until the end of my college career that his work made a deep impact within me. I now keep a small stack of Capitalism and Freedom on hand to give out to friends, family, and foes.
I have come to define myself as a Milton Friedman liberal, and I would like to personally thank him for changing my life so profoundly. Long live the individual!
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
I know that it’s a bit early to laud him as the new direction for the Democratic Party, but Jim Webb is sounding more and more like the populist, and yet patriotic minded Democrat that were popular and powerful in 40’s and 50’s. He has a piece in the Wall Street Journal this morning that states:
“The politics of the Karl Rove era were designed to distract and divide the very people who would ordinarily be rebelling against the deterioration of their way of life. Working Americans have been repeatedly seduced at the polls by emotional issues such as the predictable mantra of "God, guns, gays, abortion and the flag" while their way of life shifted ineluctably beneath their feet. But this election cycle showed an electorate that intends to hold government leaders accountable for allowing every American a fair opportunity to succeed.”
An interesting piece, and one worth a read.
The truth is he isn’t saying anything that populists on the left and the right have not been espousing for the last 20 years. The difference is that he is in a position where he can make changes.
Let’s not bullshit ourselves; folks like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer don’t have a leg to stand on in most parts of the United States. They definitely stand up for their constituents, but those voters are generally urban and secular. They live a very different life than those in those middle and southern red states. It really doesn’t matter if Schumer or Pelosi present a good idea at this point, it will fall on deaf ears across that America.
People like Webb are different. He is a Democrat who appeals to the more culturally conservative aspects of American society, and his recommendations concerning trade and the economy will go far in those communities. It will be interesting to see how hard he pushes this agenda.
The QandO blog has a rebuttal of sorts to Webb’s piece, and wrongly assumes that Webb’s populism is Marxism in disguise. While I do have major problems with the communitarian aspects and anti-individual portions inherent in populist thinking, to equate Webb’s position with Marx is inherently incorrect.