02 December 2008

Could criticizing banks be considered hate speech?

In Latvia, it is a crime to criticize the bank:

It is a crime to criticize the stability of the banking system in Latvia. Economists have been prominent among those rounded up recently in these uncertain times (that phrase would be about as far as you can go in Riga) for suggesting that one could lose money through exposure to the country's banking system.
Monday's Wall Street Journal explains on its front page how the now-51%-government-owned biggest bank in the country has become the beneficiary of such protection.Hayek's dictum that economic control entails the control of all rights and freedoms is once again demonstrated. -- Here.
One "Arend" offers this astute comment:

One should be really careful in calling the Latvian banking system fundamentally unstable, because just as criticizing the system will contribute to its collapse, just believing... BELIEVING the system is stable, and good, and wonderful will just make it a fact. That's how one beats reality, my dear friends. Government style.
Don't say, "Things are not all right" and things will be all right.

Think of what's going on. We all know, or suspect, that talk -- mere talk -- can affect the market. Mere talk could cause a run on a bank. If we have businesses too big, too important to fail then we certainly have banks too big to fail. And the biggest bank of all is the Federal Reserve system. Since the government has oversight of the economy and is empowered to regulate it, we shouldn't be surprised if someday, some pol makes the suggestion that speech having deleterious effects should also be regulated, as something very like hate speech.

Today, it's just Latvia.

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James Frank SolĂ­s
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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