I have re-watched the Credit Crisis video a few times and each time its message really hits home. Not only was the crisis created by collective greed, but also a sophisticated scheme to generate money without actually contributing much useful. It was all about getting rewarded without doing any heavy work.
Sure sounds like socialism. It is a socialist ideal to have people have all their needs met with minimal effort on their own part. Only within socialism are people allowed to make poor choices and still get away with it, because after-all the larger community will take care of you.
Yet what we are witnessing is not socialism in its pure form. What we are seeing is a kind of socialism known as State Capitalism. This is where governments in the US, UK, and other places prop up their banks and financial institutions. This ends up saving and rewarding many of the same people who created the credit crisis. Yet, just like in the video, the state stood aside and allowed this to happen and even contributed to it by keeping interest rates too low. The state has to step in because it helped create the crisis in an indirect fashion.
We may have the structure of free enterprise, but the attitude behind all of this is completely socialist. Its all about getting something for minimal effort. The various governments want to see the business world succeed since this contributes to increased wealth and taxes. The problem is that many states lost sight of their purpose and became too cozy with business success.
Yet governments are quick to find a scapegoat and it appears that Libertarians are being targeted as the cause behind the problem. Stephen Harper said as much in a recent speech which has raised the ire of some libertarians. Harper was quoted in the Canadian Press as saying “The libertarian says, ‘Let individuals exercise full freedom and take full responsibility for their actions.’ The problem with this notion is that people who act irresponsibly in the name of freedom are almost never willing to take responsibility for their actions.”
Is Libertarianism discredited by the Credit Crisis? Perhaps. I have grown to believe in free markets, but must admit that the Crisis has challenged some of my convictions. It has demonstrated that unfettered freedom to the greedy and short-sighted brings ruin to all of us.
Maybe greater freedom needs to be reserved only for the competent and mature. Maybe it needs to be reserved for those willing to take responsibility for their actions and not to those who use idealistic/ideological notions of “freedom” to justify their behavior.