Thursday, July 17, 2008

Idiots on Parade

Megan McArdle, a former writer with The Economist, does a wonderful smackdown of supposed intellectuals in their fight against the Milton Friedman Institute:

Their assessment of the effects of the "neoliberal global order" is forehead slapping, head shaking, did-they-really-say that? stupid. I haven't heard such transparently wishful claptrap since my fifteen-year-old boyfriend tried to convince me that sex provided unparalleled aerobic exercise. If you put all 100 in a room with unlimited access to Lexis-Nexis and a mountain-sized peyote stash to bring their quasi-communist fantasy life into 3D technicolor, they still couldn't name a country where neoliberalism has undermined a vibrant democracy. Nor where Demon Capital has made things worse. The worst you can say for the neoliberal order is that it doesn't make things better the way we hoped it would. Any place you can name that has been deeply screwed up since global capital arrived was at least as corrupt and otherwise awful before the capital swooped in to plant garment factories in the edenic swamps of rural poverty.
She also does an excellent job of correcting some historical inaccuracies on Milton Friedman and his role in Chile (with a noteworthy comparison to China) here:
Apparently I missed the section in history class where we covered the vibrant democracy that existed in China prior to pro-market reforms. Because in the history I learned, the openness and transparency required to support the market reforms have enabled what little movement towards liberalization China has had.

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