If you write and follow politics enough, you eventually realize that most evil in this world is brought about by those seeking a lesser of two evils. And those who assist in this very much resent it when you point out that they are promoting evil.
My inbox has been inundated in recent days with people who think along these lines. Consider the Detroit bailout for example. Now, this idea is preposterous on the face of it. One of the glorious aspects of this recession is that it will finally deal the crippling blow to this industry that has been a decades-long drag on American productivity.
Wicked unions have thoroughly looted the capital stock of these companies, and the workers themselves are wholly focused on their own well-being rather than that of the company and the consumer. The management is deeply embedded in the regulatory structure of the state, working to effectively turn the American car industry into a public-private partnership of the sort Mussolini would applaud.
You don’t have to be a technician to know that foreign makers — whether building abroad or residing in the United States — make a superior car at a better price, no matter how much the “Big 3” waste on hopped-up advertising campaigns. In fact, we should welcome their complete bankruptcy. Maybe they can regroup or maybe they can’t. That’s for the market to decide.
In the meantime, not cranking out these endless cars would be a welcome relief, freeing up labor and capital for more economically useful purposes.
To bail them out with tax dollars is an amazing insult to American consumers. What Americans have chosen not to buy, the government is now effectively forcing them to buy. You want a Toyota and paid for it with your money but your government is now saying that you should have bought a Pontiac, so it is tapping into your bank account to make it happen — and then not even giving you a car for your money!
But let’s return to the problem of those who have caved in. I’m getting messages from people who believe in free markets saying that we have to do this bailout anyway, otherwise we will face worse consequences. The unions will strike back. There will be massive protectionism to prop up the industry. Free market people will get a bad name for not supporting the little guy. Our industrial base will further erode. Unemployment will soar and then the masses will riot and we’ll get Bolshevism. And so on.
Dick Cheney himself is reported to have gone around to Republican senators to tell them to pass the bailout, even if they disagree. Otherwise, they would be like Hoover, not having done anything about the depression. Leaving aside his stupid historical point (Hoover did plenty, all of it wrong), it is never right to do evil that good may come of it.
I grant that all the predicted results of failing to pass it would be bad. They might even be worse than a bailout, who is to say? But these are speculations about the future. What we face right now is a terrible evil of a bailout, and great good comes from its failure to pass. What’s more, if free market people can’t bring themselves to oppose that, what good are they anyway?
People who think along these lines imagine that they personally can control the political process in clever ways, giving a bit here to get more later on. I actually heard these same arguments about the first round of bailouts back in September: we’d better support this now or else it will be worse later.
What is striking about these arguments is how tyrants always use them. Hillary Clinton used to claim that we either pay for her health care program now or pay more later. FDR said we need to support the New Deal now, or else face full-scale socialism later. Actually Hitler was the same way. He justified his entire program on the idea that only National Socialism could stop Bolshevism.
If a dystopian nightmare of the totalitarian state finally arrives in the United States, it will be a result of a compromise, and there will be people around until the very end who will insist that we should be grateful because it could be much worse.
This kind of strategizing also works as a cover for selling your soul. The temptation to do this is very great indeed. The state loves nothing more than a seeming libertarian who weighs in from time to time with a pro-state position. This allows the state and its minions to justify their oppression even from the standpoint of libertarian intellectuals. When you sell out, this is the role you are playing (and this is the role that some D.C. organizations have been appointed to play).
There is only one sure way that you can know that you are on the right side of history, and that is by saying what is true and defending what is right, without exception. It is not left to intellectuals to play political games. Intellectuals are supposed to tell the truth, regardless of the moment. That means, in these days, completely opposing all increases in state power under the cover of “countercyclical policy.”
Let evil people take responsibility for their evil policies. Those who know better should stick to the right and true.