The View From 1776
Monday, May 15, 2006
Liberal Czars Order Cars
The New York Times wants to force you to buy the automobiles they prefer. It’s what is known as state-planning.
A good socialist society is the way liberal academics like Robert Heilbroner or Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and other luminaries of Manhattan’s New School for Social[istic] Research, describe the political system that appeals to them. Considering themselves to be rational, reasonable, and correct in such matters, they can see no reason why all of us ought not be compelled to live our lives as they dictate.
In that vein, today’s New York Times editorial page expresses a typical liberal viewpoint that is one of socialism’s basic tenets: individual consumers cannot be trusted to make purchasing decisions for themselves, because the diabolical capitalist businessmen can control their thoughts and actions with advertising. Consumers, in socialistic theory, can’t make informed decisions; they buy whatever advertisers tell them to buy.
Consequently, our stores are full of unnecessary products that, in the judgment of socialist intellectuals, should be taken out of production. Planners for the collective state should be the one to decide what you need and what is best for you.
The burden of the Times editorial is that tax credits for buyers of hybrid autos are insufficient to force conventional automobiles out of production. In addition to tax credits, the Times demands much higher government mileage standards that would make producing the sorts of automobiles the public prefers an impossibility for the auto manufacturers.
This is the sort of state-planning that gave the Soviet Comintern that marvel, the Trabant. Consumers don’t really need an automobile with more than a two-stroke, 25 horsepower engine.
An related part of liberal-socialist theory is that there is a fixed amount of capital in the economy, so that stopping production of unnecessary products will free up some of that capital for new welfare-state handouts to make income redistribution more equal. Needless to say, if we all drive the automobile selected for us by the New York Times, this will makes us even more equal.
Now, I’m sure that the liberal planners have an answer to all of this, but it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that the policy demanded by the Times will simply enable the Japanese auto makers to take over the entire United States auto market.
Even if you were to agree with the Times about forcing production of more hybrid cars, what do you say to the remaining workers in General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler who will lose their jobs as those companies go bankrupt? At the moment, GM and Ford in particular are struggling to avoid bankruptcy because of crippling labor agreements forced upon them with Federal support and complicity by the 1935 Wagner Labor Act. They are selling off divisions just to raise enough cash to stay alive. And they don’t have competitive hybrid cars.
But why should the Times editorialists worry? They take taxis or the subway.