Libertarians are to Blame for Ken Lay? Pshaaa!

Ken Lay arrestSo when I first heard defamed Enron founder Ken Lay died, I figured like many that karma had finally caught up with that bastard and good riddance (though I hoped those bilked in the deal would still have a claim to his assets as restitution… but alas, even in death, Ken Lay had his middle finger up). But I didn’t consider it very newsworthy from a libertarian POV.

Some, like the uber-capitalist Ayn Rand Institute was all like (paraphrasing a touch)… “derr… this dude was a crook, and hated babies,” but warned us not to blame the capitalism machine when someone like Lay comes to take the controls and screws things up. Mostly it was a drumbeat of stories about the crony-wins-all capitalism scheme we have in America and the blame was squarely on corrupt politics in power (namely Republicans).

But don’t let that kind of “blame the villain, not the weapon” kind of mentality throw peeps like Russell Shaw off, who is all like: “OMG libertarianism is evil, kill it!” Ok, I paraphrased again, here’s what he actually said:

Because the only force that can restrain the worst impulse of free markets is government, you should be prepared to shout down those who would remove government entirely- or almost entirely- from the boardroom.

The energy industry is especially besotted with men (yes, mostly men),who would take America to the poorhouse in order to line their pockets. It is for this reason that the energy industry should be controlled, price caps placed on gasoline, fuel economy standards raised on vehicles, and prohibitions reinforced against drilling in environmentally endangered areas.

[…] I know you Libertarian techies disdain politics. So did the tech firms who have found themselves out-lobbied on Capital Hill. Finally, they are getting wise to the immutable fact that if technologists either treat politics with disdain, or espouse a political agenda that is reflexively anti-regulatory, you are cruisin’ for a losin.’

That’s right kids, because one company screws up and wasn’t held accountable enough for some nanny-statist… we need more regulation and government control. What could go wrong? (*cough* Amtrak *cough*). But in reality the system still can’t compete against when those who are running their regulated companies and simply lying to the regulators — something Shaw completely ignored here. Even with a permanent regulatory position in every company, those who lie won’t be caught until the house falls down (or analysts say WTF when they report ten billion percent increases in profits), which is when they get caught and rightfully face the worst kind of punishment available for it: fraud, theft and deception.

But seriously though… if Ken Lay was following such hardcore libertarian values, why is it the lion’s share of his contributions went directly to Republicans and the Bush 2000 campaign? Could it be because Lay was an indicator of a bastardized capitalist system that Republicans have been cramming down our throats?

In any case, there’s certainly no libertarian kindness here towards corrupt capitalists like Ken Lay, and that’s the damn truth.

  1. I’ve posted this comment on that blog already, but I’m not sure where this writer is coming from with the persecption that “techies” are all about Libertarianism. Try reading for about five minutes… I’m one of the few American programmers out there who isn’t quasi-communist!

  2. I’m not going to register to just post a comment to this idiot, so I hope he’s lurking here:


    Russell Shaw,

    You are a pig-fornicating imbecile. You’re using the RepubliCrat definition of “libertarian”, one that can be found on both FreeRepublic AND Democratic Underground.

    Take your statist dog squeeze and re-insert it from whence you formed it.

    [end rant]

  3. “In any case, there’s certainly no libertarian kindness here towards corrupt capitalists like Ken Lay, and that’s the damn truth.”

    Corrupt capitalists? Isnt that an oxymoron? Perhaps you meant corrupt lobbyist, but that’s a little redudant.

  4. Common misconception with liberals regarding libertarianism. They don’t understand that what we have is emphatically NOT free market. It is facism. Plain and simple. Big government and big business working together.

    Libertarianism would be a total disaster for these big corporations, especially outfits like Enron. They would lose their protection from competition.

    This confusion of facism for free market is one that we need to SERIOUSLY SERIOUSLY SERIOUSLY work to overcome. Major marketing priority numero uno right there. Once that happens, the left will come around.

  5. “This confusion of facism for free market is one that we need to SERIOUSLY SERIOUSLY SERIOUSLY work to overcome.”

    I agree. That’s why I’ve stopped talking about “free markets” and started focusing on “free people” – after all, it’s the latter we care about (free markets are a side effect anyway).

    Instead of trying to educate voters about the “proper” meaning of certain words, we have to start using language the way it’s used by the majority. That means letting go of the term “free markets” (and our Randian tendencies) and focus on what’s important: Free People.

    Frankly, when I hear someone say “the free market will take care of it” I want to scream. It sounds no different to me than “the government will take care of it.” Until you’re willing to say emphatically “I’ll take care of it” it’s all just an excuse to not get involved with the solution. Liberty (and the responsibilty it demands) begins with each of us.

    BTW: Please help the Bruce Guthrie campaign (see ad in sidebar)

  6. I think David and Travis have hit the nail on the head. I could not agree with the two of you more. I think we get to wrapped up with attempting to educate the masses that we don’t see that we may be giving them the same tired line the major parties give them. I think that matching the major parties issue for issue is a mistake too since the majority of the issues they spew forth about are trivial and bullsh!t distractionary topics. They are meant to get people riled and voting with their guts rather than their brains.

    We can rile too… and perhaps it is time for some *shock and awe* of our own… in the form of issues that the major parties avoid…

    What have ye!?

  7. Can anyone explain to me in about 3 sentences exactly what Lay DID, and how he was noticed/caught, and why it was both illegal and immoral (which I gather it is)? I never followed this story. However, I think even Dabny Taggart herself would have exposed a corporate officer which simply lied to the people in order to temporarily increase profit margins.

    I’m hearing a *lot* of screaming from the left in the wake of Lay’s death because his conviction is being dropped. What is everyone’s opinion on that, too? I think that probably any monetary damages should probably still be deducted from Lays’ family’s inheritance coffers. After all, he didn’t earn that money honestly, as I understand. What do you think?


  8. “Can anyone explain to me in about 3 sentences exactly what Lay DID”
    -he acted like he was a member of Congress with people’s retirement money
    – then he acted like a member of Congress and lied about what he did with people’s retirement money

    He is a true example of the line “Don’t steal, the government hates competition”

    What he did was evil and criminal. I am not trying to make light of it, just trying to say that the government does it every single day with Social Security

  9. The number #1 federal issue is to pick up where Perot left off and start with National Debt, Overspending on Social Programs, and Government-Corporation corruption/collusion.

    The #1 state issue is stopping Eniment Domain for Private Gain.

    The #1 local issue is returning local educational control to local elected school boards and dumping No Child Left Behind as a invasion of local officals authority.

    If the LP gets a unified campaign going at each level fronting these 3 topics, we’ll make gains. If we don’t and keep talking about insider BS that not one voter in (INSERT SPECIAL NUMBER HERE) cares about, like force and such we wont.

    Oh, and this is just opinion. I have no expertise in this stuff, as if I would if I were a professional libertarian.

  10. Tim — I rant too frequently on No Child Left Behind and the evils it induces.

    So I’ll just say that not only do we need to get it dumped as an invasion of local authority, we need to *TOUT* it *EXPLICITLY* as the most *quintessential* example of why ‘massive government’ is evil if allowed free rein.

    It takes money *AWAY* from struggling schools and *adds more* to already successful ones.

    So not only is it redistribution of wealth, it is ***redistribution of wealth to the wealthy*** — it decreases the likelihood of “urban”/”ghetto” youths attaining an education and having a chance to make themselves anything but poor.

    It increases the Serf/Lord dichotomy far too close to developing in this nation.

    I mean c’mon folks. 99% of our wealth in 1% of the population’s hands?

  11. I found debating no child left behind in my campaign suddenly switched my allies from the right to the left. It’s just bizzare how this is one thing about education the left agrees with us on.
    The right (voters, not politicians) want school choice, but like NCLB. I can’t figure it out.