Sunday, February 19, 2012

Don’s Debates – when the Straw Man ariseth

It’s been a few months since I enjoyed a good argumentation rodeo. One presented itself on a friend’s discussion thread in social media recently. I had been resisting the urge to throw-in my two-cents’ worth (or five bucks, depending on perspective).

By the way, as a matter of pure happenstance that friend is a fellow Libertarian.

In this latest installment of Don’s Debates, a video spoofing stereotypical comments made to libertarians by three pro-big-government characters was posted.

It appeared as though it was going to turn into a run-of-the-mill libertarian-love-fest in the comments section. Right after I posted a quote by Frédéric Bastiat there came a pair of replies by someone less libertarian-leaning. Another individual followed those two comments with his own selection of a Bastiat quote: “It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”

Then the straw men were erected by the less-libertarian participant. He contributed the following observation: “State raised grain is inferior in some way to privately raised grain? Less iron or protein, or you just don't like anything any government might do? Will it feed fewer people?”

The banter continued after I had logged-out to start getting ready for work. It became a tad circular in nature while I was away. It had been my intention to not embroil myself in an elongated point-counterpoint session. But, I allowed Mr. Statist to suck me into the conversation when he opted to proclaim those who disagreed with him weren’t adequately making their point.

So, I gave-in and replied with the following:

The problem, [name omitted], is when government (be it here or anywhere else in the world) decides to participate in any industry – in the case you're attempting to make, agriculture – virtually all actions must be run through its internal bureaucracy which makes the production and delivery of the grain inferior: not the grain itself.

When the production and delivery are inferior, less of it gets to its recipients in a timely manner. The delays and inevitable loss to spoilage leads to increased hunger.

You're engaging in a complete straw man argument.

You're deliberately omitting the fact when government is thrust into a sector of the economy it soon disapproves of competition. This leads to laws and regulations that squeeze-out private-sector competitors and leave people few-to-no choices of alternate sources for that grain.

Adding to the potential for rampant hunger is the unavoidable political component when those elected (or appointed) insist distribution be fair, which then requires a massive regulatory establishment to oversee said fairness.

That doesn't factor [further] increased hunger in certain segments of the population where the political connections aren't as vibrant – thus the component of fairness becomes flexible in its definition as a result of cronyism.

Does cronyism exist in the free market?

Of course.

But, in a free market we are all consequently free to pursue our desired goods (such as grain) from other sources when that situation becomes intolerable. Or, depending on the circumstances of one's situation, some among us are then free to take it upon ourselves to engage in that industry and produce that good.

Mr. Statist responded later that morning with this end-all-be-all post:

“We don't have anything even approaching a free market. Talk about straw men!”


No comments:

Post a Comment