Thankfully, Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning University of Chicago economist, is dead after living to the grand old age of 94 and while it's true that only the good die young; Milton Friedman never had a moment of self-doubt in his life and people without self-doubt always go straight to the burning torments of Hades.
Friedman's uber-free-market monetarism has left the world with a neo-conservative hangover. Since the collapse of the economy of Argentina, whose government had followed the Consensus's prescriptions to the letter, Latin America has rebelled by electing every leftist in sight, while in Iraq the hubris of a new US imperialism has failed to conquer a country they actually helped weaken with a decade and a half of sanctions and airspace control, instead stoking radical Islamic anti-westernism from California through Europe to Indonesia.
The University of Chicago (that did beget the Chicago School of Economics) has of course developed some great thinkers but Friedmen is one of it's major intellectual embarrassments and how he became a figure of power and reverence in America is a question for an expert on the mass psychology of fascism.
Regular readers will know that I don't believe in Hades but I do believe Milton Friedman is being tortured there by demons and so infectious is his lack of self-doubt that, even in death, he makes me certain he's being tortured in a Hades I don't even believe in. Now, that's one evil economist!I'll explain why...
As we've seen in the recent financial collapse brought on, in part, by Milton's ideas that have created the paradox of public funding holding together the very free market structures the evil old bastard was such a fan of, there is money to be made in moving companies and their debt around. Definitely not in making and selling products. What kind of schmuck manufactures or does stuff?
The big money is in the investing and buying and selling of ethereal debts and assets, never paying the debts, never delivering the fruit of the assets, paying yourself handsomely, and to top it off, not paying taxes, since most of the tax cuts that the white Christian gay-bashing underclass patriots in the red states were so happy to have, benefited no one...well, no one but the very, very rich.
And it is all Milton Friedman's fault. How? Is he magically forcing the financial world to suck the resources out of the real world with its funnel cloud of insanity? From the land of the dead, from his torture grief-pit he is doing this?
Yes. Yes he is.
Milton Friedman dignified a simplistic vision of economics, a vision so simplistic it could not but appeal to the likes of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, who were both very simple people at heart. Thus began the popularisation of the terms of extreme capitalism and the private ownership fetish. Thus in the early 1980s William F. Buckley could host a farcical debate on, "Resolved, Government Is The Problem, Not The Solution" at the start of which he declared, "We are not anarchists. We simply believe that the government more often stands in the way of progress than aids it." He and what would become the neo-conservatives wanted just enough government to protect corporations from the rabble, and none to protect the rabble from the corporations. And again, Milton Friedman and his "Chicago School" surrealists gave an intellectual imprimatur to these semantic antics.
Government (whether of, by, for, or against the people) has always favored the very wealthy and their endeavors, adventures and investments. But since Milton harnessed Reagan and Thatcher, and vice versa, the very wealthy have faced dwindling popular resistance. They and their media lackeys in the hate industry proudly display their resentment of any control over the economy that doesn't originate with or profit them. Allowing high financial interests to dictate how clean the air should be, who should own the water, how much a corporation should compensate someone it injures, how much assistance a government should offer its poor, how much it should spend on teachers and doctors, whether workers can organise into unions, what kind of science can be done...the list goes on.
Putting all these decisions into the hands of the people with the most money is now second-nature to the voting public of the USA. And, yes, it's Milton Friedman's fault. So I'm glad he's dead. Not as glad as I will be when Margaret Thatcher dies...