At the weekly Discover Capitalism meeting here in Melbourne last night we studied Ayn Rand’s 1972 essay, The Establishing of an Establishment.
In this essay, Ayn Rand discusses how it’s not only Government censorship which causes intellectual stagnation in a culture. Governmental encouragement – through funding – does it too. It’s not a direct effect, however.
Ayn Rand details the mechanisms involved, focusing on a particular example: The funding of the Behavioralist School of psychology – B F Skinner – author of “Beyond Freedom and Dignity” – being its best known proponent at the time.
One of the problems with government funding/encouragement, especially in the social sciences, is that it makes politicians and beauracrats arbiters of thinking and ideology.
This has been one of my concerns in the recent complaints made against Australia’s taxpayer funded TV and radio network, The ABC.
The gripe has been that ABC presenters and shows are heavily biased towards leftist views. Anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-capitalist, etc.
The proposed solution has been to do something like find a “Phillip Adams of the Right” or get more “conservative” presenters and shows. This is a bad move which I believe will make things worse than they already are.
Why? Because it sets up government officials as arbiters of ideology. What is “conservative” or “right wing”? How will the right “mix” of viewpoints be determined? Who will decide this? How will they decide it? It can’t be done and it shouldn’t be done – or even attempted.
It’s bad enough the state funds this idiotic enterprise which undermines the values of liberty, private property, individual rights. To now try to micro-manage its ideology, steps way over the bounds of the proper role of government.
This proposed “solution” reminds me of another counter-productive idea that is now entrenched. Namely, work-for-the-dole. This has to be one of the dumbest ideas I’ve ever come across.
Since it is government which maintains unemployment by restricting the labour market by such measures as minimum wage laws and so-called “unfair” dismissal laws, then the government has some responsibility to provide a safety net of some sort. i.e. the dole. As long as the government restricts labour market flexibility and freedom, the dole is valid.
What the labor market needs is not another layer of bureaucracy in charge of forcing people to work in bogus jobs. We need deregulation. We needs the free market.
And, as for The ABC, privatize the bastard.