Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Monday, October 3, 2011

Memories

Earlier this year Megan McArdle wrote an article about Iraq's economy, claiming that "freedom is bad for business."

Apparently, freedom and democracy themselves may actually be creating many of the most severe problems in the economy—our virtues, and not our sins, may be what’s hurting Iraqis.

It seems that bombing a country back into the stone age is not the source of Iraq's economic problems; it's the fault of Iraqi incompetence, Iraqi corruption and Iraqi rules and regulations. I helpfully mentioned one more possible source of Iraq's economic problems: the ignorant, ideological, barely post-pubescent Heritage Foundation legacy pledges that screwed up everything they touched.

HugeEuge 7 months ago
Amazing level of bureaucracy -- some considerable organized effort to write a lot of laws and regulations, if not much effort to coordinate them or make them practicable. Were these laws laws and regs on the books in Saddam era or only post invasion? And I wonder how they compare to say Jordan or Syria, or whether there has sprung up a large informal economy outside the regulations, as can happen in countries where the formal organizations of the state are strong and developed enough to write lots of (insane) laws but not strong enough to enforce them.

Very interesting article (and also the blog post), too bad it's not really practical for MM to go there for a month or two to do some on-the-ground reporting on the issue. Outside the daily news stories, most of what I see about Iraq is written with a view to settle scores or revise history about who was right blah blah blah. I apologize, I don't mean to sound patronizing, but it really is refeshing to read a feature about Iraq that isn't all about the government/civil unrest or trying to score political points by putting a gloss of one color or another on the situation etc.

susanoftexas 7 months ago in reply to HugeEuge
I too think Ms. McArdle should go to Iraq to see for herself. She could get behind the official lies and talk to Iraqis and get the real story.

You're also right about those ideological lenses--some people might have mentioned how Bush hired new college graduates from the Heritage Institute to run the economy, which didn't work out at all, no doubt because governments can't really do anything right. Ms. McArdle totally left that out, which proves that she is fair.


McMegan 7 months ago in reply to susanoftexas
My columns are of limited length; I left more words on the cutting room floor than made it into the piece. The purpose of the column was not to rehash old political complaints; it was to describe the situation in Iraq as it exists today. I understand that you probably think that fixing blame on the Bush administration is much more interesting and important than wasting words describing cement factory privatization, transparency, or the oil infrastructure. I can only plead that my editors disagreed.

susanoftexas 7 months ago in reply to McMegan
Ms. McArdle, are you saying that your editors cut out your bit on the CPA?
Susan

McMegan 7 months ago in reply to susanoftexas
I'm saying my editors were not interested in a 2500 word column on why we shouldn't have invaded Iraq and how George Bush sucks; they were interested in 2500 word column on what's happening now. The former topic has been covered exhaustively; the latter has not. I didn't write about the CPA, the invasion, the violence that followed, or any of the other reasons that the invasion was a bad idea, because the column was not about the invasion; it was about the economy.

susanoftexas 7 months ago in reply to McMegan
You avoided my question. If you can go back as far as Ninevah surely you can mention the time in which the US was supposed to establish a working economy after we invaded and overthrew the government. It is obviously and overwhelmingly pertinent to the present state of Iraq's economy.

McMegan 7 months ago in reply to susanoftexas
It wouldn't have changed anything in the story; it wouldn't have even helped fix blame on the Bush administration, since I make it clear that he invasion he spearheaded caused the chaos. The subject of the piece was not exactly how bad was George Bush. To me, the most important questions about Iraq are not whether events there decrease the relative status of George Bush, the GOP, or the people who supported the war. As a result, I cut material on the invasion that didn't actually change the conclusion of the story. Or are you arguing that a Democrat-led invasion would have resulted in a safe, prosperous Iraq?


susanoftexas 7 months ago in reply to McMegan
So you left out or cut out any CPA information because you didn't want to discuss Bush's failure to install an economic infrastructure.

Yet you did discuss the lack of economic infrastructure.

'Gunter argues that the U.S. invasion, by taking out the centralized apparatus of Saddam’s regime, unleashed what he calls “entrepreneurial corruption.”'

And

"If all you do is remove the totalitarian state, without building the institutions that support markets, the result can be corruption even more pervasive, and corrosive, than the regime you replaced."

So the only thing you left out was why those institutions were not built--because the CPA didn't build them. You emphasize government regulation and the corruption and rent-seeking" of Iraqis instead. That is changing the conclusion of the story.

You surely remember that the CPA "lost" $12 billion dollars, which would have gone far in building new organizations. You stated "Instead, the major problem is creating political and social institutions that support a vibrant, entrepreneurial business culture." yet you ignored why that culture wasn't built--the CPA, filled with Heritage Foundation members.

JamestheWanderer 7 months ago in reply to susanoftexas
OK, Susanoftexas, we get it already; you hate George Bush, he is the Devil's favorite son, and until he is hanged-and-drawn-and-quartered-with-his-bowels-burned-alive-bef0re-his-face he will not have been sufficiently punished (and maybe not even then).
Can we move on now, to other subjects?

susanoftexas 7 months ago in reply to JamestheWanderer
Ms. McArdle is trying to convince her audience that we must practice austerity instead of stimulus spending and that we must eliminate Social Security and Medicare. Her reasoning is flawed, just as it was for the bank bailout, which she supported, the war, which she supported, and the shadow banking industry that brought down the economy, which she supported.

Ms. McArdle's support for everything is based on her ideology, which tells her that governments are incompetent, the markets always equalize, and regulation strangles business. If any of these ideas are ever proven wrong, McArdle makes up excuses and arguments that attempt to cover up that fact and convince her audience that the world is mistaken and her ideas are correct. Such as, corruption and government regulations impeded Iraq's economy, not the economic conservatives at the Heritage Foundation.

It's a matter of reason, fact and results, not emotion. We cannot afford to continue to listen to flawed reasoning and people who disregard facts.

JamestheWanderer 7 months ago in reply to susanoftexas
"Ms. McArdle is trying to convince her audience that we must practice austerity instead of stimulus spending and that we must eliminate Social Security and Medicare."

So the cure for sky-high debt is MORE debt? We must maintain unsustainable programs created by long-dead ignorant politicians until we die?

"Ms. McArdle's support for everything is based on her ideology, which tells her that governments are incompetent, the markets always equalize, and regulation strangles business."

But-but-but - governments ARE incompetent; mine has wasted every dollar I sent them for my retirement on waste, fraud, pork projects and rewarding their cronies. The markets may or may not equalize; they can also collapse, which this one will once QE-to-infinity is shown not to work. Regulations do strangle business, which is why no one is getting hired these days and high unemployment continues. Why can't we STOP doing what doesn't work, and find something else that does?

"It's a matter of reason, fact and results, not emotion. We cannot afford to continue to listen to flawed reasoning and people who disregard facts. " Your emotional defense of Social Security and Medicare despite their unsustainable design is noted; your flawed reasoning in regard to curing debt with more debt I have pointed out. Shall I stop listening to you?

susanoftexas 7 months ago in reply to JamestheWanderer
I am unable to evaluate your contribution to the conversation due to your substitution of repetition for argument.

JamestheWanderer 7 months ago in reply to susanoftexas
I accept your concessions that you do not understand economics, the concept of "unsustainability" or the proper role of government in society. Don't feel bad, probably more than half of the population doesn't understand any better than you do.

susanoftexas 7 months ago in reply to JamestheWanderer
Do you have an proof whatsoever of your statements, or will you simply keep repeating them? You say the government is incompetent while using the services it provides for you while being protected by its military. You live under the constitution written by politicians long-dead. "Free market" means more than quantitative easing. The recession is the reason hiring is so poor; regulation greatly rose under Bush.

I have not defended SS etc, I have noted flaws in McArdle's reasoning. Your answers are based on the emotion you accuse me of, you don't back up anything you say with facts, and you inject irrelevant considerations into the conversation. You prove nothing, add nothing and have poor manners, and this conversation is at an end.

JamestheWanderer 7 months ago in reply to susanoftexas
"You say the government is incompetent while using the services it provides for you while being protected by its military." The Mafia provides "services", and has really effective "protection" and "military" branches; how is our current government all that different?

"You live under the constitution written by politicians long-dead. " Which you obviously do not understand or value, since you are advocating "stimulus" which is NOT a Constitutional duty of the government (and for that matter, neither is SS, Medicare or any of a number of other current activities).

""Free market" means more than quantitative easing." Free markets are the OPPOSITE of quantitative easing; have you ever studied economics?
"The recession is the reason hiring is so poor; regulation greatly rose under Bush. " This recession is a consequence of government interference in the economy; Austrian economists understand this, although Keynesians do not. And as for the expansion of regulation, do you recall hearing about several 2000+ page bills passed by Congress in the last two years? The ones we had to "pass to find out what was in them" as one politician put it?
YOU BROUGHT UP "eliminate Social Security and Medicare" in your post; THAT is an implicit defense of SS, or you wouldn't have used it as a criticism of McArdle. I have noted your errors, and your emotional responses so far. I have proven your lack of understanding, and I gratefully concede the one thing you have correct:

" this conversation is at an end." because I can't converse with someone who can't listen and understand.


So as we watch Megan McArdle write seven-count-'em-seven posts (here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) attempting to light a fire under the Solyndra story and gin up a scandal to create a blaze of controversy and pain for liberals, let us remember that the disappearance of TWELVE BILLION DOLLARS entirely sliipped Miss Megan's mind, leaving not even a ripple as it disappeared into the murky depths of her misbegotten soul.

ADDED: Make that nine posts on Solyndra.

5 comments:

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Mere facts are have no power against almighty dogma.

Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or by extension by some other group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers.
~

Downpuppy said...

Susan, you go wrong in your first sentence. Megan didn't write about "Iraq's economy". She didn't go to Iraq, talk to Iraqis or do any kind of data analysis.

She just collected stories from a few Americans who either took part in the debacle or tried to profit from it, ran it through her ideoligizer, topped it off with the execrable Michael O'Hanlon and dropped a cowpie in the Atlantic.

Susan of Texas said...

You are so right.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure McMegan can find some kindly old person who's been to Iraq sitting next to her on the bus to fill in the details.

Aws

John E Williams said...

I have nothing to add except to say that watching you and Megan go at it is ten times funnier than Jim Halpert skewering Dwight Schrute, and about a thousand times more surreal.