With “friends” like this…

William Watson is one of the most free enterprise-oriented economists and journalists in all of Canada. A regular contributor to the National Post (the neo-con Canadian counterpart to the War Street Journal), he is a professor of economics at McGill University. With “friends” like this, however, the philosophy of laissez faire capitalism hardly needs enemies.

Writing in the Vancouver Sun newspaper of 6/23/11, supposedly to counteract the egalitarianism of Michael Moore, Watson instead takes comfort from the fact that equality has not been reduced as much as many had feared. Under the title of “The little guy didn’t suffer as badly as feared,” Watson exults in the countercyclical properties of, yes, income taxes and unemployment insurance, and thus, believe it or not, supports these policies on that ground.

What is wrong with downright inequality? Some people are more productive than others. The market rewards individuals based on their contribution to the well being of others. Necessarily, some will end up with more wealth than other people. What is this fetish with egalitarianism, on the part of a presumed defender of markets? If even the Watsons of Canada apologize for inequality, yearn for egalitarianism, what hope is there for that country?

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3 Responses to “With “friends” like this…”

  1. Mark D Hughes says:

    You are, of course, 100% correct mstob. Canada is no free market. But don't mistake Walter's criticism of Watson with support for the current Canadian — or American — system (if that's what you are doing – and I'm not sure it is). Walter is properly blasting Watson for his support of income taxes and unemployment insurance as some kind of gateway to egalitarianism and the standard implicit assumption that egalitarianism is next to godliness. Likewise, readers should not assume advocates of genuine laissez faire capitalism are anti egalitarianism carte blanche. On the contrary, while egalitarianism is not its goal, no economic system on earth brings the masses of the population into a state of free and peaceful cooperation and ultimately a generally "egalitarian" social system than does true laissez faire capitalism . ALL other economic systems result in some variation of two polar opposites: politically powerless have-not "slave" class vs politically powerful state corporatist/bureaucratist "master" class, i.e., tax producers vs tax consumers.

    • mstob says:

      Mark,

      "ALL other economic systems result in some variation of two polar opposites: politically powerless have-not "slave" class vs politically powerful state corporatist/bureaucratist "master" class, i.e., tax producers vs tax consumers. "

      In this we are in agreement, and I think this the inequality that should be prevented. It does at present exist in Canada, and in the western world in general. Certainly, though, income taxes and minimum wage are not the solution. But one can agree on a problem with someone but disagree on the solution.

  2. mstob says:

    I can understand the problems people have with inequality.

    Yes, in a free market economic conditions are determined by voluntary interaction. That is a result of none violent activity and there can be no way of changing that except through initiating force. However, we do not live in the free market that so many libertarians/anarchists desire to see brought about. What currently exists is a corporatist-fascist economy where priviliges exist system wide and trillions of dollars can be plundered from the productive sector like it was nothing. Worse than that, people are told that this is in order to SAVE the free market.

    Under such a system of mass theft inequality is inevitable and I see no reason to defend it.

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