The Hypocrisy of the Libertarian Utopia

Steve FraserThose who champion the free market as the carrier of prosperity today are not only fanciful but really hypocritical. Take Orange County, for example: the home of the Goldwater movement back in the late 1950s and the early 1960s — to this day a very conservative, right wing, affluent place. Orange Country doesn’t exist as a high tech place without the defense industries, aerospace, huge government irrigation networks, waterworks, road building, tax subsidies, tax exemptions, federal subsidies: the whole world out of which Orange County and other sun belt communities were born.

Phoenix, Arizona, for example, or places in Texas depend utterly on government supports that build the infrastructure that makes the market exchanges possible and so on. This was always true — back in the Gilded Age in the 19th century. The railroads, which were the first major form of industrialization in the United States, depended on land grants — from states and the federal government — in order to build the railroads that they constructed across the country. They depended on governments to provide them with all kinds of federal subventions and tax exemptions. So it’s a myth that there ever was this free market that didn’t depend on the government.

—Steve Fraser
Conversations with Great Minds

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