Neatly Skewered

The soi disant deep thinker Naomi Klein has her deep thoughts brought up for a little sunlight by Tyler Cowen, “Shock Jock.”

(I read her book No Logo years ago. Lots of elegant sentences, but they don’t add up to a coherent picture of how anything works.)

4 Responses to “Neatly Skewered”

  1. The Amazon reviews are even worse:

    “Ms. Klein asserts that in country after country, Friedman and his Chicago School followers have foisted their tripartite economic prescription – privatization, deregulation, and cutbacks in social welfare spending – on an unsuspecting populace through decidedly non-democratic means. In the early years, the primary vehicle was dictatorial military force and accompanying fear of arrest, torture, disappearance, or death. Over time, new organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank were employed instead, using or creating impossible debt burdens to force governments to accept privatization of state-owned industries and services, complete removal of trade barriers and tariffs, forced acceptance of private foreign investment, and widespread layoffs. In more recent years, terrroism [sic] and its response as well as natural disasters like hurricanes and tsunamis have wiped clean enough of the slate to impose these Friedmanite policies on people too shocked and focused on recovering to realize what was happening until it was too late.”

    Damn the omnipotent Milton Friedman and his radical libertarian “dictatorial military forces”! And how dare the IMF refuse to give free money to countries that admit they’re impoverished yet refuse to give up “trade barriers and tariffs”!

  2. Well, if the government no longer provides social services the traditional means means of social service provision will step in place. Is it better that religious organizations provide social services?

    Whoever provides schools, clean water, no interest loans, various freebies gets to impose its ideology and gains higher public approval. Add democratic elections to the mix and you undermine secular governance. Withdraw democratic elections and you get suicide belts, unrest and disdain of the world.

    So what should a country do?!

  3. Cyril Morong


    Thanks for posting this. I wrote a letter to the NY Times in response to the Stiglitz review. They probably won’t print it. Here it is

    In his review of Naomi Klein’s book THE SHOCK DOCTRINE: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Joseph Stiglitz says that Milton Friedman and other Chicago economists are “guilty of oversimplification, basing their belief in the perfection of market economies on models that assumed perfect information, perfect competition, perfect risk markets” and that markets have limitations “whenever information is imperfect, which is to say always.” But when information is limited, it also makes it difficult for government intervention to achieve optimal results as well. So we are left with two less than perfect alternatives. Here is Friedman’s take on this dilemma from his book Capitalism and Freedom: “Our principles offer no hard and fast line how far it is appropriate to use government to accomplish jointly what it is difficult or impossible for us to accomplish separately through strictly voluntary exchange. In any particular case of proposed intervention, we must make up a balance sheet, listing separately the advantages and disadvantages.” This hardly seems like simple minded thinking. In fact, one of Friedman’s big concerns were the unintended consequences of well meaning government interventions like price controls that often cause either shortages or surpluses. Rent control comes to mind. Even the rock star Bono has criticized agricultural subsidies in rich nations that make it hard for farmers in poor nations to compete. Friedman and the other Chicago economists never said markets were perfect, just often preferable to government intervention.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>