Sunday, March 08, 2009

Naomi Klein vs. Rahm Emanuel

Apparently White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has been quoted as saying "You don’t ever want to let a crisis go to waste: it’s an opportunity to do important things that you would otherwise avoid." I can't find a reference to when or where he said that, but if he did say it, I wonder, will Naomi Klein claim that he, too, is part of the vast neoliberal conspiracy to make everyone miserable?

Klein has argued that Milton Friedman and other free market types espoused using crises as opportunities to advance their radical free market agenda. She hasn't let facts get in her way, as has been thoroughly documented. Apparently the conspiracy extends to slightly left-leaning presidential administrations, too. Perhaps she would argue that the Obama administration isn't really progressive after all. The Rahm Emanuel quote sounds an awful lot like the Milton Friedman quote that Klein willfully misunderstands, except that Emanuel's quote sounds more like the sinister interpretation Klein uses (which is not to say that I think Emanuel is actually being sinister and plotting).*

I would like to give the Obama administration thanks for ending the federal raids on medical marijuana facilities. Hopefully we'll move a few steps closer to legalization.


*For those curious, here is the quote:
Only a crisis--actual or perceived--produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.
Klein misinterprets the first part of the quote as prescriptive, rather than descriptive.  She thinks that Friedman wants to manufacture crises to get his ideas implemented. Rather, he is simply saying that when a crisis comes along, it's wise to have good ideas developed and ready to be used. So she thinks that Friedman conspired with Pinochet--which is untrue--and that groups like CATO support the Iraq war in order to get radical free market ideas implemented in Iraq. In fact, CATO opposed the Iraq war, which Klein would know if she bothered to do the slightest bit of research.


2 comments:

paradise vendors, llc. said...

i just read of rahm's statement in arthur laffer's WSJ op-ed today (6/11/09). my first response was knee-jerk: that naomi klein must not know what to do now. so i went to the google, put in some terms, and got this post. thank you for saying what i was thinking.

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