A Leftist Blind Spot

Every ideology has its blind spots, areas wherein the ideology cannot predict the consequences of particular actions. Leftists are keenly attuned to negative consequences of giving the state power in matters of sex and police work, but they seem utterly oblivious to the dangers of granting the state power in economic matters. Leftists see only the immediate gain without considering how that power might be abused.

For example, most leftist are strong supporters of freedom of the press, while at the same time being strong advocates of government regulation of large media companies. They want the government to have the power to decide such matters as which markets media companies can enter and which technologies they can use. It never seems to occur to them that giving the government a great deal of say in a media company’s economic operations ultimately also gives it leverage to control the content it provides.

Via Instapundit comes this story in the WSJ about Time Warner’s presumed capitulation in the Plame scandal. Time Warner may reveal the reporters’ sources, possibly because:

Time Warner depends on government approval for a number of matters. It is, for example, awaiting antitrust approval for its acquisition — with Comcast Corp. — of Adelphia Communications’ cable assets. It depends on the government’s largesse to issue securities. And though it is a cable operator and holds no broadcast licenses from the Federal Communications Commission, the company is vulnerable to FCC pressures on issues of media content.

One other potential issue is a deferred-prosecution agreement struck last year between the Justice Department and Time Warner relating to America Online. A deferred prosecution contemplates cooperating with the government in its ongoing investigation into specific wrongdoing, in this case alleged accounting fraud.

“Time Warner has got to be inclined to be as cooperative with the government as they can on all fronts,” says Washington attorney Hank Asbill, who is representing a former America Online executive charged with securities fraud.

Of course, both Time Warner and the government would never admit to any quid pro quo and in any particular case, there may not be one, but giving the government power over the economic well being of the press raises at least the possibility that economic pressure could be used to alter or suppress reporting.

Leftists have spent the last 100 years trying to convince everyone that in matters of economics, the government always knows best. Yet, they act surprised when events like the Kelo decision occur. Economic matters are the material basis for every other facet of life. Freedom of the press means nothing if you cannot buy paper, ink or a press. To grant the state carte blanche in economic matters is to ultimately grant it power over every other facet of our lives.

5 thoughts on “A Leftist Blind Spot”

  1. I doubt that there will be any real pressure on that front. I bet that it is just hype to make the company look more resolute when is refuses to name names.

  2. This is not unlike the disconnect among my acquaintances: they complain that in a properly run country the government supports the arts, but see censorship when government agencies do not choose to support their artistic projects.

    As usual, Shannon’s remarks are both pregnant and lucid (an interesting visual metaphor). A comment on another blog struck me as unusual, practical, & perceptive. When I saw it was one of his, I thought, “Of course.”

    The free marketplace of ideas is dependent upon the free marketplace of economics – despite my colleague’s insistence that democracy is not linked to capitalism. Even if government’s provisions are handsome (not that under socialism they are), if the government is the only provider, freedom is lost. I suspect we are then tempted by that great tempter – jealousy. We aren’t responsible but are dependent upon the whims of bureaucrats. Another’s gain is our loss. Sibling rivalry sets in – immature and jealous, we eye the patriarchal government in fear & supplication.

  3. Pregnant and lucid! I like that.

    Shannon’s post reminds me of a suspicion I think we share. Where leftists sense they have control, as in the MSM’s content, Ivy League education, and the advocacy uses of union dues – they resent government controls. My sense is they like these categories just the way they are, and feel rightly that any imposition of our representative government’s oversight would disfavor them.

    But the facets of our lives where their views currently hold little or no sway – our globe’s growing capitalist economy, for-profit corporate boards, our nation’s religious and social taboos (ie. gay-marriage), or our personal consumer choices – they will claw and scrape to render them subject to their manipulation.

    It is truly apt that having acted like children in the “Plame Kerfuffle” – using the lies of a hack like Joe Wilson to manufacture a scandal to depose “W,” Leftists may find that dependence on big government is a double-edged sword. This dependency could be the lever that pries the lid off the MSM’s coffin to expose it’s wan corpse to the sunlight. Ha!
    (It’s always a good day for visual metaphors!)

  4. Mark,

    “Bias” was one of the seven wise men of classic greece for a good reason. heh.

    All groups of people who self-identify with this or that ideological platform have blind spots that typically form a sort of gaussian cloud of probability that’s related to the core premises associated with said ideology. The “right” is no different from the “left” in this regard, just as “libertarians” are no different from “progressives”. We all have our own particular ‘foolish consistancies’, that when defended to extremes become the hobgoblins of our factions.

    The trick, I think, is in those of a more moderate disposition within a particular faction taking a stand and toning down their own radical members. The moderate right had a tough time doing this during the 1990’s, and the moderate left is having an even tougher time doing this today. Still, Libertarians are famous for our own inability to see clearly in certain areas, and so it’s probably wisest to be cautious before dwelling on the faults of others…. heh.

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