FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe has a terrific new book, “Hostile Takeover”. Kibbe describes how the explosion of information choices available to Americans has already changed politics and will continue to do so. Though not organized this way, there are three broad themes in the book, leading to one inescapable conclusion:
- Top-down journalism is a dying paradigm
- Top-down, Keynesian economics is a tool of oppression
- Top-down politics is no way to run a free country
The inescapable conclusion: while there is a lot of work ahead of the advocates for individual freedom and limited government, the decentralization of information has the wind at our backs.
The Top Down Old Media
Rather than a handful of newspapers and TV anchors presenting the public with “unbiased” information that isn’t really unbiased, the new media world, with its hundreds of cable channels and hundreds of millions of blogs and social media users, presents information that is known to be biased, leaving the selection, filtration, and processing of that information to the individual.
Old media is a business; new media is driven by its biases and the desire to spread a message, to serve a cause. Because of that, as Kibbe puts it:
Impact is now measured by outcome, rather than by ratings or hit numbers — the way Old Media calculates their importance, even in the new paradigm.
So, rather than having our news and information sent down from on high as before, through “trusted” sources we didn’t vet and should not trust:
Walter Cronkite, or “news-like websites”? “Serious journalists”, or Ace of Spades? Top-down or bottom-up? Keep your top-down solutions, Walter. I’m clinging to my individual sovereignty and my RSS feed.
The End of Credibility for Top Down Economists
Kibbe describes the attitude among the ruling class as “knowing”, having enough knowledge to design an economy that makes better decisions than individuals would.
No politician in my lifetime better personifies the hubris of knowing better than Barack Obama. His administration, in all its various attempts to “fix” the economy, has sought to replace the corrective forces of the market process with a different plan, or a new direction that better masters “all the possibilities of production, as innumerable as they are.”
Of presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Joseph Rago and Paul A. Gigot write in the Wall Street Journal, “Mr. Romney describes the core failure of Mr. Obama’s economic agenda as faith in ‘a wise group of governmental bureaucrats’ rather than political and economic freedom.”
Kibbe contrasts Romney’s dismissal of Obama’s economic arrogant ignorance with a 2007 Journal interview, in which Romney talks enthusiastically about his data-driven approach to reforming business and government. Kibbe doesn’t actually make the case that Romney is talking about reforming society as a whole, only about reforming government itself.
As an Austrian economist, Kibbe delves into monetary policy, explaining how inflation and the chicanery of the Federal Reserve work. Hostile Takeover would be worth buying if only to read that one section.
The Top-Down Old Politics
The Occupy movement is an odd mix of big-government Marxists and and hipster anarchists held together by their conspiracy theories about corporate greed, thrust into the public eye by a compliant old media. Kibbe relates the pitiful efforts of 9/11 Truther Van Jones to graft himself into the movement and turn it into a power base, even as it fades in interest.
The political right always seems to be searching for the next Reagan, according to Kibbe.
Even Barack Obama, whose conviction that history holds a special place for his presidency seemingly knows no bounds, sometimes sees himself as the next Ronald Reagan.
Though not a detailed history of the Tea Party movement, the book traces the journey of the tea parties from TARP outrage to GOTV machine, and what happened when 2010’s first wave of candidates that new machine elected got in office.
Regarding crony capitalism, Kibbe notes that big business is not typically for free enterprise as such, Republicans don’t all represent big business, and Democrats don’t all represent the common man. Too many have been seduced by the power of government to dole out favors to the connected. The longer they’re in power, the more prolific the problem becomes.
Several chapters are devoted to particular policy topics, showing how individual choice and a market orientation are preferable to the failed top-down efforts of the last century:
- Public education is about extending government control to the next generation.
- Health Care reform: we buy what goes into our bodies at more or less free-market grocery stores; why not the same for our health care?
- Entitlement reform and true, sustainable retirement programs
Hostile Takeover is essential reading for those who want to understand what is happening in American politics and how activists fit into the new dynamics. Independent media and a growing rejection of top down, Keynesian economics, are coming together in a wave of grassroots political involvement that will return America to the right path.
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