Sunday, September 22, 2013

A “Free Market” of the Rich and for the Rich

A recent post by Robert Reich (here) reminds us of the myths and lies used by the extreme right wing to justify reinterpretation of the “free market” in favor of their own, narrow interests.
Extremist Lies about the “Free Market”
Dr. Reich says:  “One of the most deceptive ideas continuously sounded by the Right (and its fathomless think tanks and media outlets) is that the “free market” is natural and inevitable, existing outside and beyond government.”  So, the extreme right says, keep government out of business. 
According to the revisionist lies of the Republican elitists, any attempt by the people to use government get the economy to work for them is wrong-headed and doomed to failure.  As Dr. Reich says: “According to this logic, government shouldn’t intrude through minimum wages, high taxes on top earners, public spending to get people back to work, regulations on business, or anything else, because the “free market” knows best.”
The Truth about the “Free Market”
Markets do not exist in and of themselves.  Laws, customs, skills, and infrastructure are all needed for markets to operate.  In fact, it is government that creates the conditions for markets to operate.  Dr. Reich provided a few examples of the issues that market rules address:
  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?).
We the People Created the Market
As Reich points out, all of these rules are human creations.
We the people elect the government, and the government creates the conditions for the markets to operate.  Our representatives should set rules that benefit the nation in a broad sense by benefitting all of us, not just the rich and powerful special interests. 
It is not a matter of more or less government control of the markets.  We already have laws governing these kinds of issues, often to the exclusive benefit of the rich special interests served by the extreme right.
Don’t Let the Extremists Set the Rules
The right wing extremist lie about “free markets” is one of the biggest tools they use to shape the rules and regulations to favor their interests.  The right wing interests will do anything and utter any kind of lie to prevent us from creating market conditions that benefit the people.
We know the extreme right wing Republican Party for what it is – the same party that opposed scientific thought, racial equality, the rights of women, and anything else that did not aggrandize the controlling interests.  The party that uses bigotry, lies, and hatred to deflect criticism and maintain its control.
“Make the Economy Work for Us”
Markets without rules devolve into monopolies and abuses.  Maybe we have forgotten what our ancestors suffered through not long ago:  Child workers maimed by industrial equipment, consumers poisoned by contaminated foods, industrial workers enslaved by industrialists’ thugs and company police.  We are heading back in that direction.
We the people created the market, and it exists only to sustain us and our posterity.  If we fight the extremist lies and cruel policies that undermine the economic liberty of the great mass of Americans, perhaps we can achieve what Reich proposes and “make the economy work for us” -- an economy that works for all of us, and not just for the few on the extreme right who already control the wealth.