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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The American free market

Free markets exist where buyers and sellers transact voluntarily, reaching a mutual agreement. In the “free market” a consumer can demand a better price, buy a similar item, shop elsewhere or forgo the purchase altogether.
The right argues that any interventions in the form of taxes, regulation or subsidies are detrimental to the “free market”. This is simultaneously proposed with the “supply side” theory which provides government support, and subsidies, to the suppliers and “job creators”. From this we can see that “supply side”, “job creators” and the “free market” are terms used to describe a political or ideological viewpoint on policy. None of these terms describe any field of economics. As policies based on ideological views, economic research and real world data is most certainly unwelcome.
The ideology of “free market” medicine will work if you decide to voluntarily have a heart attack, or voluntarily get injured in a car wreck. If the price is too high, you just forgo the heart attack, or postpone the injurious car wreck, until a better offer is available.
The inconsistency, fraud, deception and hypocrisy of the ‘free market” ideology becomes obvious. Capitalism based on a level playing field has proven successful for all participants, the “free market” ideology based on monopoly, taxpayer support and rigged rules (our too-big-to-fail banks), ultimately fails everyone. We have reached a point where too-big-to-fail exists for the rich, while too-small-to-save is the rule for the common citizen. The billionaires need a safety net, while grandma needs to become self reliant and tough it out. This is not a market failure because there is no capitalist based market.
This not an accident, this is not the natural evolution of capitalism, nor is this the way it has to be. This is the intentional result of power protecting power. This is the result of humans acting like humans. When we get lucky, we credit our intelligence, we all protect ourselves from perceived threats, and we all think we are the best drivers on the road. To these normal human traits add unlimited power and vast resources, and abuse will be the results. Temperance becomes wrath, charity becomes greed, and humility becomes gluttony. Only a great person can withstand great temptation, and great people are exceeding rare.
I push the speed limit on the highways, occasionally far beyond the legal limit, and if caught by police authorities I am punished. HSBC (a British mega bank) was found guilty of illegal money laundering, the laundry of drug money, terrorist money and organized crime money. The judge released the corporation, and all managers, without penalty. Too-big-to-fail is now too-big-to-jail, laws no longer apply to the mega wealthy. They are only policed by themselves, a very unreasonable expectation.
The rich have used their resources to create the ideology of “free market”, “job creators” and “supply side economics”. There are many apologist op-eds written supporting the crimes of HSBC, there are “think tanks” dedicated to creating supportive “research” for the rich, flattery by politicians is rewarded with “campaign contributions”, and lobbyist write legislation benefitting the rich at the expense of the common citizen. Being an apologist is very lucrative and secure profession.
You and I have no political representation, there is no lobbyist working on our behalf, no organization fighting for the middle class. The politician that claims to represent me in speeches, sponsors legislation that destroys my environment, laws that restrict my protection from corporations, and laws which give tax benefits to ship my job off shore. This bad legislation is explained as helping me, improving GDP, and increasing jobs. A message professionally packaged, market tested, refined in focus groups and then emotionally tinged. We are told that apple pie taste best with a little arsenic added.
You may not be shocked by any of this, but you certainly got the bill, with none of the benefits.

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