The continuing descent of Reason magazine from irrelevant inanity to outright self-parody continues, this time with Katherine “It's quite exciting to inaugurate a war” Mangu-Ward -- last seen defending the use of private jets by the CEOs of failed corporations (which actual libertarian Jim Henley termed an “understated masterpiece” in making the case that “libertarians are just shills for corporate privilege”) -- lashing out against, of all people, critics of the AIG bonuses.
In her latest ill-considered defense of corporate excess, Mangu-Ward implies critics of failed companies using the U.S. Treasury to enrich their undeserving employees object to all instances of firms providing bonuses, including to those who deserve them. Taking the absurdity to the next level, she then suggests President Obama's statement that, “We believe in people getting rich based on performance and what they have add in terms of value and the products that services that they create,” somehow contradicts his (belated) attacks on the AIG bonuses. “Don't know why anyone would think otherwise,” she snarks, linking to this BBC article about the the U.S. government pressing AIG to payback the bonuses (which were only made possible by the federal government's generous gift of more than $170 billion in taxpayer dollars).
But like her fellow Weekly Standard castoff and resident Reason hack Michael Moynihan -- who earlier this week defended poor Jim Cramer from mean old Jon Stewart’s attacks -- Mangu-Ward's chief fault is not so much her views on war or the corporate state, per se, but the fact that her writing is so incredibly dull, dull, dull and devoid of any semblance of actual thought. Her schtick, like her boss Matt Welch, is apparently to poke fun at silly leftists – like those quacks who opposed the Iraq war and earlier sanctions and think bankrupt companies shouldn't lavish their employees with taxpayer-funded bonuses – rather than, say, the actual people in positions of power to, I don't know, start illegal wars and commence the greatest transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to the rich in U.S. history.
An actual libertarian might point out that AIG, as an elite financial institution, for years benefited from a state policy of easy credit from the central bank and an implicit guarantee -- now made explicit -- of a government bailout in the face of hard times. Even without a bailout the AIG bonuses would be of questionable morality, seeing as how firms on Wall Street actually authored the state-granted priviledges they benefitted from in the heady days leading up to the current economic malaise.
If opposition to force is the core of libertarianism, and if AIG is using stolen money from you and me to finance tennis lessons for the children of the corporate elite, then that would make them little more than thieves, no? Mangu-Ward, however, sees an attack on rich corporate executives and can't help but reflexively leap to their defense. The takeaway from all this? Some (vulgar) libertarians really are just defenders of corporate privilege -- shocking, I know -- and organizations that advocate "privatizing" prisons are probably not the best allies in the fight against corporatism.