Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Crying wolf

One of the things that irritates me the most about libertarians in the West is when they compare their country to the Soviet Union. Here's an example from the Adam Smith Institute's blog, in the UK, which is apparently a pretty influential free market think tank:

According to new research for The Sunday Times by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, state spending as a percentage of GDP has now reached 49% for the UK as a whole.

That's bad enough as it is – the government now controls practically half of the UK economy – but when you look at the regional figures the picture is even worse.

In the Northeast, state spending is 66.4% of GDP. In Wales, it's 71.6%. And in Northern Ireland, it's a whopping 77.6%.

I don't think the Soviet Republics ever managed to achieve quite that degree of state dominance.

Seriously?! You think that Wales is more socialist than the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic was? And this is leaving aside the obvious ridiculousness of trying to quantify how statist an economy is, considering that often times regulations that don't show up on the budget are far more consequential and disruptive than actual expenditures.

1 comment:

Tristan said...

The ASI are hardly the best example of libertarians being as vulgar as it is possible to be.

It is troubling that state spending is so high though.
From a libertarian analysis its easy to see that making people dependent upon the state enables the state to make greater and greater power grabs as those who depend upon the state are going to be far more forgiving.

Add in the plethora of regulation and corporate welfare which benefits big business and we have an economy which is dominated by the state and its vassals in business.

We are still missing the attempts to direct the production and distribution of basic necessities and we have greater freedom than the SSRs had, so they are over egging the pudding.

(for another infuriating example of this tendency look at the Libertarian Alliance blog - the main writer is always going on about 'Gramsco-marxist leftist feminazis' and calls councils 'soviets'. Combined with his delusion that conservatism and libertarianism are one and the same its thoroughly depressing and must serve to put people off the LA (which actually has many great people involved who actually intelligently discuss issues and several of whom are moving in an increasingly left-libertarian/anarchist direction)