Tuesday, October 8, 2013

#281 / A Bunch Of Rules

I liked an article that Robert Reich wrote on September 16th, He called it "The Myth of the "Free Market."

Here is the quotation I most appreciated: 

In reality, the “free market” is a bunch of rules about (1) what can be owned and traded (the genome? slaves? nuclear materials? babies? votes?); (2) on what terms (equal access to the internet? the right to organize unions? corporate monopolies? the length of patent protections? ); (3) under what conditions (poisonous drugs? unsafe foods? deceptive Ponzi schemes? uninsured derivatives? dangerous workplaces?) (4) what’s private and what’s public (police? roads? clean air and clean water? healthcare? good schools? parks and playgrounds?); (5) how to pay for what (taxes, user fees, individual pricing?). 
And so on. 

The idea that our so-called "free market" economic system exists independently of human choice and political decision is particularly appealing to those who are the "winners" in the "free market" system as currently constructed. That 1% group certainly doesn't want anyone else to understand that there is nothing in our human world that is not susceptible to change, and that the nature of the "free market" is in fact established by the political choices we make. 

That "free market," in other words, is just a "bunch of rules," and we shouldn't forget this. 

In a democracy, remember, the whole idea is that WE get to make the rules. 

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  1. This is a powerful insight. As you well know, this comes up in the legal field as "natural law" and it is just as problematic. Great post, Gary.


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