Repost from the old site.
I decided to make a post about libertarians, radical free market fundamentalist religionists, and Far Right economics in general.
On Libertarianism, I think it is very important to answer some of the nonsense that is being parroted nowadays by the free market fundamentalists – libertarians – right wing extremists – amongst us. As the center of the US Right has gotten more and more extreme since the 1970’s, their arguments and policies have gotten more and more insane, irrational and ideological.
With the Right nowadays we are dealing with a nation of robotic ideologues – they no longer care anything for fact, theory, or science. Rightwing doctrine, more and more, resembles a kind of religion for its ideological adherents, and in that way it is similar to the leftwing orthodoxy that continued to enrapture some the Left in recent decades, even as it developed serious problems before their very eyes.
Into the 21st Century, the Right is bolder and wilder than ever. Formerly, the more honest ones at least used to acknowledge that socialism was better at providing for basic needs, health care, education and social support than capitalism. No more. Now total libertarian free market capitalism has become some sort of miracle nostrum that will cure all ills.
Poor health figures, health system doesn’t meet the needs of the people? No problem, just totally privatize the health system and all the problems go away. Problems with distribution of water, electricity, sewage, roads, parks, day care? Not a problem. Just get the state out of the way, deregulate, and let the corporations run it all.
The debacle of electricity deregulation in California is simply the typical result of privatization and deregulation of electricity the world over, for decades now, since the 1930’s.
We have case study after case study, with predictable results each time the “new experiment” is tried. The California experiment saw service plummet and investors get screwed, precisely the failures that led to the creation of public utilities in the 1930’s.
Utility companies maliciously rigged markets, cut off supplies to the starving state, formed monopolies and engaged in gleeful price-gouging of helpless consumers.
Deregulation of the financial industry and stock market is likely to cause financial panics, stock crashes and both economic recessions and depressions. It has in the past, it will in the future.
Deregulation of telecommunications in the US put the public system into the hands of a fewer and fewer people and sent cable prices through the roof.
It has facilitated a wild crime spree by major telecom firms, as these firms engaged in an orgy of out-and-out robbery of consumers, blatantly deceptive and unintelligible calling plans, deliberate over-billing, bumping consumers into other calling plans without telling them, and other outrages.
Privatization of water in Bolivia was a catastrophe – prices shot up, service was terrible, and many lost access to water.
Airline deregulation saw massive concentration in airlines, many cities lose air coverage and service go into the gutter. The price structure of airline flights became seriously disturbed to where a flight to a city 350 miles away might cost far more than a trip all the way across the country to a major hub.
Deregulation of trucking saw prices climb, service suffer, safety regs get tossed out the window, the accident rate go up, roads get destroyed by overloaded trucks and thousands of small firms get wiped out while a few super-firms took their place.
The last effect caused the peonization of the US independent trucker, a cultural icon. Self-regulation of any industry has meant no regulation, and consumers, workers and society are harmed every single time it’s done. Every time, every place, no exceptions. Got it?
The much-maligned OSHA regulations save 10,000’s of lives every year and we can prove it. Pollution regs do the same and clean up the planet besides, and we have the darn statistics to prove it.
Reducing environmental regulations dealing with water, air and toxics means lots of injuries and deaths, time after time, in place after place, in society after society. We are talking about effects so predictable here that if we were scientists, we could almost describe them as natural laws.
The latest insanity is the line that the way to solve health care problems is to totally privatize the health care system, because, as we all know, “socialism fails”.
This slander, this canard, against socialist health care, that it fails to meet the basic needs of human beings, needs to be answered forcefully, for the Libertarian Big Lie continues, ranting louder and louder, despite figures all over the world that conclusively show “socialized medicine” outperforming more private systems time after time and place after place.
In Nicaragua, after the Sandinistas took power in 1979, the health figures showed great improvement (along with education and literacy figures). When the Sandinistas were thrown out of power in an election cheered by liberals across America, the first thing the liberals’ hero, the ultrareactionary Chamorro, did, was wipe out government health care and free education.
At $30 a year, many parents could not afford to send their kids to school, so the kids dropped out. The health figures started going down right away. “Socialized medicine” fails again.
Cuba’s health figures have long been tops in Latin America and in 2002, for the first time, Cuban infant mortality figures actually beat US figures, where income is 20 times higher. The Latin state that often comes closest to Cuba is Costa Rica in health, education and housing figures, and as such, Costa Rica is bandied about by enemies of the Cuban Revolution.
But Costa Rica’s figures are due to the fact that Costa Rica has the most highly-developed social democracy in all Latin America, which it seems to have retained, despite frantic, bullying efforts, starting with Reagan’s orders to Arias in the 80’s, by the US to force Costa Rica to dismantle its social programs. “Socialized medicine” fails again.
In India, the state of Kerala, run by Communists off and on for the last 30 years, has developed a good state health system compared to the rest of India. When comparing Kerala to the rest of India as a whole, Kerala’s health figures are much superior. “Socialized medicine” fails again.
The social democracies in Europe have the best health figures on Earth, due to their evil, failed, inferior “socialized medicine”. “Socialized medicine” fails again.
Japan’s high health figures are accounted for by the fact that Japan has long had a virtual social democracy, with a lifetime employment system and generous benefits, including health care, taken for granted by Japanese corporations. “Socialized medicine” fails again.
And on and on and on and on.
The fact is, capitalism is bad for your health, period, exclamation point. It’s a rule of nature, like gravity or the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.
What would a libertarian health care system look like? Simple. Like the health care system we had in most of the past few centuries on much of the planet, where only the well-off could afford to go to the doctor or buy medicine and the poor were left to beg for succor or sicken and die, which they did, by the hundreds of millions.
Want some examples, close to home? I know a number of folks who are disabled and therefore simply cannot work at any real job in the real world (they could maybe get by on a severely pampered part-time job with friends or family, but that’s not real life). Their disability check every month is the only thing that enables them to survive at all.
Without that check, they would need to depend on the kindness of friends or family, or, lacking that, they would go homeless, live on the streets, lack for food, shelter, medical care, etc.
I have known many poor workers who lacked for health insurance and had such a low income that they felt they could not afford to go to the doctor. So, they ignored health problems until they got worse and worse, and now they have chronic health problems.
One of them was thrown off Medicaid when he and his wife (both workers) earned just over the limits. Consequently, he stopped going to the doctor for months and felt he could not afford to buy his prescriptions. He lacked his meds, including a blood pressure drug and a blood thinner needed for a blood clot, for 5 months.
Another railed against “socialized medicine” but felt she could not afford insurance so she never went to the doctor or dentist. Now she has severe chronic knee problems and serious teeth problems.
She may need to have all her teeth pulled since she never went to the dentist because she felt she could not afford it. The knee problem may also have been exacerbated by lack of medical care. The reality is that this is what will happen to many people if we do away “state health care”.
This is what happens all over the world. I have friends in the Third World who tell me stories about their countries. It’s clear that people are dying in these places all the time because they cannot afford doctors or medicines. Their stories are true; I hear them with my very own ears.
What would a radical free market system do for education? Prices would go through the ceiling and quality would go down in many cases. Every teacher I know who taught at both private and public schools told me the quality of the program was much worse at private schools, where the owners scrimped on everything and shafted the teachers while flying around on their private jets.
I suppose the radical free-marketeers would like to get rid of public roads too. Let me tell you a story about roads. Up here in the mountains, we have private and public roads. Every single private road is utterly terrible and many are outright dangerous.
They are full of potholes, if they are paved at all. Why? Because in order to fix the road, each homeowner on the road would have to pitch in to fix it. No one wants to pay, so the road never gets fixed. Never, ever.
If you want to know what the libertarian vision looks like, just go to the Third World, where the state doesn’t pay for anything and the public sphere is decrepit, abused, nonfunctional, dangerous, inadequate, nonexistent or for the rich only.
Look at America pre-1900, where schools, doctors, hospitals, roads, electricity, sewage, and old-age supports did not exist or were luxuries for the moneyed only. The elderly, sick, poor and jobless simply sickened or died, in huge numbers. Tens of millions of Americans never went to school.
That’s the libertarian dream, or nightmare. We know what it looks like because it’s been tried in the past for centuries, the world over, in culture after culture. We can see its devastation in the 3rd World as we speak.
There need be no illusions at all about what radical free market fundamentalism will really bring, and we need to shout down the free-market ideologues and religionists with every lie they shower us with. Loud. Often. In their face. And never stop until we turn their dishonest roar into a whisper in the background.