Monday, August 16, 2004

Rights and Reason: Housecleaning

I've decided to cut the Volokh Conspiracy from the blogroll due to the addition of GMU law professor Todd Zywicki to the list of conspirators. Zywicki just returned from a stint at the Federal Trade Commission, an organization he praised in a post he wrote this Saturday:

Debbie Majoras takes over as Acting Chair of the FTC, along with Jon Leibowitz. Both are very able lawyers and people of great character, smarts, and integrity. Which will be needed, of course, to help the Commission recover from the "Zywicki interregnum." Seriously, Majoras and Leibowitz are excellent choices to continue the amazing successes of the FTC over the past few years, under the leadership first of my new colleague Bob Pitofsky and then my old colleague Tim Muris.
Amazing successes? Majoras was a key figure on the government side in the Microsoft antitrust case settlement—the final act in a case that should never have been argued in the first place. Both Majoras and Muris have been instrumental in denying the rights of physicians to negotiate as a group with HMO’s. And Pitofsky, in testimony before Congress, posed this precious gem of a hypothetical:

All of the doctors in Elgin, Illinois, get together over lunch and say, "We are not making enough money, our kids are going to expensive colleges, and we are not driving the luxury car that we prefer. Let's go to this one HMO that is committed to cost containment, and we will say we are going on strike. Unless you pay us twice as much money, we are going on strike. We are not going to take care of people in your organization."
So wanting to send one’s children to "expensive" colleges and drive the luxury car of one’s preference is an indictment of the free market? Working toward the good life is a sign of avarice? From this, doctors lose the right to communicate with other doctors as they negotiate their fees?

These people Zywicki goads over are not just bad—they are appalling, ideologically committed opponents to individual rights and economic freedom. Zywicki’s praise for them symbolizes precisely what is wrong today with the intellectual leadership on the right. If the leadership of the FTC can be praised as good, anyone can do anything and somehow still be a proponent of freedom. Given Zywicki’s intellectual credentials, he ought to know better.

Blogs come in all strips and the inclusion of one on our blogroll is not an endorsement; the blogs CAC links to indicate our interests, not our agreement. Still, CAC does not link to enemies. One of the greatest threats today in the realm of ideas are the proverbial wolves in sheep’s clothing—those who say they support freedom and then act against it. There is nothing good to say about the FTC or its leadership. The laws that animate it are morally bankrupt and should be held to be unconstitutional. We don’t pretend otherwise and play chummy with "colleagues" who act with impunity against businessmen. Neither should anyone else.

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