It has always seemed to me that many socialists don’t just dispute that a free market works to benefit all involved, but that they are incapable of understanding that it might, or even that some rational people believe it does.
As far as I can see that is why a significant proportion actually think that to be capitalist, libertarian or worst of all Conservative is to be evil, is to be utterly selfish. They don’t believe it is actually possible for the free market to help people, anything without altruistic motives cannot have a positive result. Of course nurses, doctors and fire crews are never selfish in working for pay or even in demanding higher pay, they are altruistic whether they work hard or not, and whatever their pay.
I watch little television, and on the BBC it is strictly QI, Top Gear or Have I Got News, but I am visiting my parents. On Thursday night Hard Talk was on, and Stephen Sackur was interviewing Steve Forbes, CEO of a major magazine publisher and editor-in-chief of Business magazine.
Sackur just could not understand that Forbes could lay responsibility for the financial collapse on government rather than bankers; it was not that he disagreed, he just seemed unable to accept that someone could hold that opinion. Forbes made a case that monetary indiscipline and regulations, especially the unpredictability of government intervention, were the root cause, but Sackur just kept asking Forbes to condemn bankers and accept that capitalism was dead. He was obsessed by it, and showed little sign of listening to Forbes’s arguments and no sign at all of understanding them.
OK so the BBC should not show this sort of naked socialism in its interviewers, nor have a non-entity who cannot understand basic economics interview a man like Steve Forbes on that topic. However what struck me was a classic case of a leftie assuming that evil capitalists, and the evils of free markets must be to blame, and government must have a role in recovery but did not have any responsibility, and utterly incapable of understanding that a very knowledgeable person might disagree.