Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Decline of Reason: Riggs Is The New Weigel

Gun toting Socialist, David Weigel
As a frequent reader and infrequent commentator at reason magazine's blog for several years, I am somewhat shocked at the latest incarnation of David Weigel, who goes by the name Mike Riggs, gracing their blog.

Like Weigel, Riggs expresses not one hint of knowing that government police power is perfectly acceptable to protect private property:
New York Judge Upholds Eviction of Occupy Wall Street from Zuccotti Park by Mike Riggs
The new Dave Weigel Socialist at reason: Mike Riggs
Everything Bloomberg does to you is for your own good, even jail! was his tone when the city of New York finally got around to clearing out the #Occupy squatters defiling privately owned Zuccotti Park in Manhattan.  I defy you to distinguish the reason post from the worst one can find daily in the Nation or Slate for refusing to even acknowledge that private property owners have any rights whatsoever.

Bradley Gardner: Reason's Thomas Friedman
Reason no longer confines itself to being a champion of stripping real property owners of any control of their land, while bashing the police for actually doing something that they are supposed to do.  No, as if Leon Panetta, Joe Biden, Norman Fleishman, Tom Friedman (and the rest of the New York Times staff) were not falsely touting Communist China's crony capitalism (conveniently leaving out the word "crony") in the mainstream media, reason recently entertained us with this bit of Bradley Gardner pap:
New at Reason: Bradley Gardner on China’s Black Market City
Chen Mingyuan has lived here all his life, but he still gets lost every time he drives into Wenzhou. “All the roads in this town were built by businessmen, so none of them make any sense,” Chen says as we back out of what we just discovered is a one-way street. For the last 30 years, private citizens in this southeastern China metropolis have largely taken over one of the least questioned prerogatives of governments the world over: infrastructure. 
The article fawns over the people of Wenzhou for building the infrastructure that the government did not build, and the Communist Chinese government for "looking the other way" so that these brave entrepreneurs can engage in commerce.  Perhaps a video of what the Chinese government does build around Wenzhou should dampen any praise for Communist engineering, or any respect for private property to build disasters waiting to happen:

Not a matter of if, but when.
Oddly, the reason take on the situation is that if the Communist government took a peek and went away, then they will continue to do so.
The government’s indifference didn’t last forever. But when the authorities got around to paying attention, they decided not to mess with a good thing. In 1985 Liberation Daily, a paper sponsored by the Shanghai Communist Party, referred to Wenzhou as a “model” for other parts of China to study. In the next year 15,000 government officials visited the city to learn, not crack down. Although bureaucrats still occasionally try to impose state controls on the city, the futility of the effort quickly becomes apparent. By now the local Chamber of Commerce has taken to negotiating trade deals both domestically and internationally because, as in most other things, the private sector is more effective here.
There was no pondering of how long it would be before the autocrats in Beijing show up to claim the "people's property" without so much as a thankyouverymuch and seizing the privately built roads and utilities.  No, the article waxed on about how this is the way Chinese capitalism works.  Something else missing was any government enforcement of contracts, but there was a slight nod to the iron-fisted loan shark enforcement that may or may not exist.
Gray-market lenders are often established, though technically illegal, financial institutions that lend primarily working-capital loans at rates as high as 10 percent a month. Contacts often modify interest rates based on how well you know them. Forms of repayment enforcement differ. Weng points out that in a community so dependent on guanxi—relationships—defaulting on a contact’s loan could blackball you from future business opportunities. Weng doesn’t clarify how defaulters are treated by underground debt collectors, but he does say they “aren’t the type of people I’d want to get involved with.”

This is an incredibly naive view of how authoritarian governments operate.  Even here in the United States, where nobody could argue with a straight face is anything approaching the authoritarianism demonstrated in China, when people make property valuable the government swoops in to take it over or get their unconscionable cut.

Reason, it has been nice knowing you as a sometime voice of reason (drink!) in a world teaming with Socialists.  Now you have joined their ranks as a sideshow act, destined to be a punchline in the monologues of David Corn and Katrina Vanden Heuvel on cable news appearances.

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