Saturday, December 11, 2010

Free Marketers.

"What has been undermined was the wisdom of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal reforms that capitalism needed to be saved from its own excess in order to survive, that the free market would remain free only it was properly regulated in the public interest. The great and terrible irony of capitalism is that if left unfettered, it inexorably engineers its own demise, through either revolution or economic collapse.

The guardians of capitalism's survival are thus not the self proclaimed free marketers, who, in defiance of the pragmatic Adam Smith himself, wanted to chop away at all government restraints on corporate actions, but rather liberals, at least those in the mode of FDR, who seek to harness its awesome power while keeping its workings palatable to a civilized and progressive society." (The Great American Stickup-pg 18-19)

Chris Hedges in his novel, the Death of the Liberal Class, writes the liberal class has abandoned its core principles and has "become a useless and despised appendage of corporate power."(Death of the Liberal Class pg.9) The irony remains, according to Mr. Hedges, that "In killing off the liberal class, the corporate state, in its zealous pursuit of profit, has killed off its most integral and important partner. Corporate power forget that the liberal class, when it functions, gives legitimacy to the power elite."(Death of the Liberal Class pg. 12) The Liberal Class recognizes the social-economic hierarchy of human nature and tries to work within that framework to allow for some social mobility for those who given the opportunity. It doesn't call for a idealist society, but one that works with the current system to help those who are at disadvantage.

Allow me to take this one step further with help from Joseph Heath's Economics without Illusions, "The commitment to "limited government" and "laissez faire" capitalism turns out to be not so much a principled defense of individual liberty as an arbitrary privileging of the interests of those with money to invest (whom we may refer to, for convenience, as the "wealthy"". The right wing call for "less government" therefore becomes a call to "keep those programs that benefit the wealth-scrap everything else." And this simply doesn't qualify as a political philosophy. When spoken in the mouths of the privileged, it's just a fancy way of saying, "More free stuff for me, less for you"

Capitalism is not a spontaneous order. The compositional fallacy, however, makes it tempting to believe that is is. Since it is in everyone's interest to have a system of property rights, or to have the orderly exchange of goods, won't people just natural tend to organize their affairs in that way? Who needs the government to step in? Yet as it turns out, we do need government step in, even to secure the most basic conditions for a functioning market economy. Two boys trading marbles in the schoolyard may constitute a spontaneous order, but the capitalist economic system is a highly artificial construct, based upon an elaborate set of social programs that have been refined and tweaked over the course of centuries.

Do I need to say more?

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