I didn’t watch the first part of that French dude going on about “The Men Who Made Us Spend“, but I bet it went pretty much exactly like this:
There’s these rich guys, yeah? And they use, like, nice pictures and that as a way of totally tricking you into buying stuff that you don’t even really want, yeah?
This sort of thinking is common, all too common these days. And while there may be variations in jargon here and there, at bottom there is a single premise: it is unnatural for people to want to improve their lives. This is ludicrous.
Libertarians are often on the receiving end of attacks based on nonsense like this. For example, “Who would build the roads?”, a question libertarians get asked roughly once every three minutes and each time as if it was the very first time anyone had thought of it. The underlying idea is that, absent government no one would want to go somewhere else at faster than walking speed. Again, this is ludicrous.
Likewise for the related topic of street lighting. What, it’s simply down to the existence of governments that we prefer not to walk around in the dark? Likewise for questions about security: “What about police?” “What about national defence?” They rest on the presumption that, absent government people wouldn’t care about the defence of their person and property. Absurd, completely absurd.
Am I being unfair? These things are “public goods” after all. They couldn’t possibly be provided by the market, could they? Then again, a prime example of a public good is the fireworks display, but, curiously enough, I’ve never heard it argued that fireworks displays are provided in “suboptimal” amounts, that they are an instance of “market failure”, and must be taken into “public ownership”.
I have a post on the latest Westminster scandal and what liberals can learn from it, here The unpalatable truth about apples and oranges. There’s no kittens, but it’s still pretty cool.