Vache Folle Just Kinda Slips Up

Friday, July 20, 2007
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I’m not really sure what Vache Folle is attempting here. Apparently, in his mind, I am “looking askance at Chinese products in view of recent safety concerns” and believe the anti-China hysteris “is just another Commie plot to impoverish us all.” Hmmm, looking askance?

Mr. Folle refers to this post. I can appreciate his opinion, however, I will correct him and then explain our differences. First, he says I “conflate private, voluntary consumer action with government intervention.” Where? By my quoting the quotes he points out? Here’s what’s on his blog; he emphasizes what I quoted in my post, then makes a comment (bold is my emphasis):

While I agree that the Chinese safety scares will be exploited by protectionists to push for legislation, and I disapprove of this as much as Karen does, but she seems to conflate private, voluntary consumer action with government intervention. Look at the two quotes she cites:

A:”Quality is one thing, safety is a different matter, and if we continue to hear this drumbeat of safety (problems), that could clearly impact consumers’ perception of goods made in China,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank in Chicago.

B:”The Chinese better take heed and crack down hard (on faulty goods) now or they will be faced with anti-Chinese trade legislation soon,” said Andrew Busch, global foreign-exchange strategist with BMO Capital Markets in Chicago..

The first quote is about consumers’ reaction qua consumers, whereas the second is about possible legislation.

So my point in my post was that the safety concerns of some products from China are being put into play by special interests and legislators to open the door (and very widely so) for protectionist and anti-free trade legislation. He even points this out (twice), but then he questions why I would question it? Mr. Folle, I question it because I am an admitted market anarchist and I believe that government has absolutely no place whatsoever in the world of regulating trade. So his pointing out that a special interest strategist was hinting at “anti-Chinese trade legislation soon” makes his comment about my comment seem rather ineffectual.

And how is the first quote a “consumer’s reaction?” Mr. Ablin is a mass commenter on such issues, as you’ll see him quoted everywhere, especially in the Wall Street Journal. He is a special interest, not a mere “consumer.” And again, Mr. Ablin is saying exactly what I said: that this continued hysteria regarding Chinese products is clearly going to have an impact. Only Mr. Ablin, in his comment, refers to the anti-China hysteria as a “drumbeat of safety.” So by using these quotes to lead up to my thesis, I make the point of my thesis perfectly clear: interventionists and protectionists are licking their chops at this golden opportunity of safety hysteria to limit, prohibit, or otherwise interfere with trade between China and the US. And the more they can beat the drums of safety hysteria, the larger the perception in the minds of people that China is all things bad, and thus they will support and/or even call for more government trade protectionism and “safety” measures. And since Wal-Mart is seen as evil because it is a huge retailer of goods from China, well, it’s just another reason for the anti-China and pro-Mom-and-Pop crowd to hate Wal-mart.

So again, where do I, a market anarchist, “conflate private, voluntary consumer action with government intervention?” Indeed, a market anarchist such as myself believes that a free market for products will very quickly vet out the good from the bad because, of course, making or selling unsafe products will mean that the maker or seller will quickly go out of business.

Take the pet food ordeal, for instance. Wal-Mart is a seller of the products that were tainted. The moment that it became known that the products were found to be unsafe, Wal-Mart took everything off the shelves and very forthrightly labeled the shelves throughout its pet food department, explaining the situation. I know, I saw this display. When it became safe to sell the goods again, Wal-Mart again took it upon itself to label the shelves explaining why the products were now safe, and why it was confident enough to guarantee this and start selling the products once again. The information conveyed to me via Wal-Mart left me, the consumer, with the thought that it was looking out for its customer and doing its best to keep me constantly informed of any potential issues that I need be aware of.

Vache may “hate” (his words) to shop at Wal-Mart because of its lack of service and atmosphere and whatnot, but as to me, when I buy toilet paper, laundry detergent, and a host of varied commodity items, I do not need “atmosphere” or “service.” I want to wisk through there and powershop, load my cart with life’s necessities at the lowest prices possible, and get the heck out. I’ll pay for atmosphere and service on non-Wal-Mart items.

Vache also finds Wal-Marts employment practices “objectionable,” and it is unfortunate he buys into that drivel. He also believes that refusing to shop at Wal-Mart is a “democratic process,” a term that a “Hyper-Individualistic Libertarian” such as myself would find objectionable. Exercising an individual choice to not patronize a business is very “hyper-individualistic,” and is a choice involving a person (him) or his family unit. There is nothing “democratic” (a most misused word that is the favorite of government talking heads) about such a personal decision. His decision is apart from the same choice made by other Wal-Mart haters, and it is individual to him.

I understand he is into this whole “class-consciousness” and “good collectivism” thing, so I will just end things there. And that is all fine and well, but my point being that we just think differently about these issues. Very differently. I am an individualist libertarian anarchist, and he appears to be more of a mutualist anarchist. Hence criticism and/or discourse is valid and welcome, but making the huge error that I conflated voluntaryness with intervention is very, very wrong.

And lastly, before Vache Folle thinks I am just being “contrarian” for the heck of it, he’d better think again. I’ve got nine years of Internet archives and five years of website archives and a very public bio that ‘splains my entire philosophy of freedom and my foundations therein. To go along is easy. To stop and think through things (like the whole anti-China, anti-Wal-Mart thing) takes a lot of work, a lot of time, and it doesn’t make life easy. But someone has to have principles. Being I am libertarian and an anarchist sure as heck is going to make me “contrarian” on many things. Such is the way.

If Mr. Folle wants to learn a bit more about Chinese capitalism, Lew Rockwell has several great articles on this topic. In fact, today he posts his own piece on the anti-China hysteria, and he starts out, “A hysteria of sorts has been generated by reports that some of China’s products lack quality control.” I guess that’s pretty “contrarian.” Shame on you, Lew.

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