Irony Alert: Michael Lind on Lochner

If you are going to accuse a critic of being “astonishingly ignorant of history,” your response to said critic should not include this:

State and local licensing rules and trade laws governed economic life in detail, down to the size of spigots in wine casks, in some cases.

It was precisely these state and local regulations that the Supreme Court struck down, in Lochner v. New York (1905) and other cases, to promote the goal of creating a single national market.

I’ve seen lots of different interpretations of Lochner over the years, but I’ve never seen anyone claim that underlying Lochner was a desire to create a single national market, and for good reason, because that’s a ridiculous interpretation of Lochner.

Surely someone with even a tenuous grasp of 20th century American constitutional history at least knows that the Justices most sympathetic to Lochnerian reasoning were also generally the most hostile to federal laws that attempted to create a uniform national market. “Astonishingly ignorant of history,” indeed.

(And if this post seems a bit snide, please consider that I’m responding to someone who writes gems such as, “if they were not paid so well to churn out anti-government propaganda by plutocrats like the Koch brothers and various self-interested corporations, libertarians would play no greater role in public debate than do the followers of Lyndon LaRouche or L. Ron Hubbard.”)

UPDATE: Not that it’s worth taking Lind’s “point” reprinted above seriously, but let’s review:

It seems undisputed that the Kochs total spending on political and ideological causes is somewhere around 10-15 million dollars per year. How big a role does this money play in the American political system?

Let’s start with ideological/intellectual causes. The liberal Ford Foundation spends over $400 million a year. The liberal MacArthur Foundation spends about $140 million a year. Liberal billionaire George Soros spends about $150 million a year. Liberals control the vast majority of academic positions in almost every humanities and social science department in every major university in the country, with total budgets in the tens of billions.

If libertarianism is winning, or at least successfully competing, in the war of ideas, it ain’t because the big money is on its side.