RSN August 14 Fundraising
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment
Print

Reich writes: "One of the most deceptive ideas continuously sounded by the Right is that the 'free market' is natural and inevitable, existing outside and beyond government."

Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09.  (photo: Perian Flaherty)
Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)


The Myth of the "Free Market"

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

16 September 13

 

ne 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 whatever inequality or insecurity it generates is beyond our control. And whatever ways we might seek to reduce inequality or insecurity - to make the economy work for us - are unwarranted constraints on the market's freedom, and will inevitably go wrong.

By this view, if some people aren't paid enough to live on, the market has determined they aren't worth enough. If others rake in billions, they must be worth it. If millions of Americans remain unemployed or their paychecks are shrinking or they work two or three part-time jobs with no idea what they'll earn next month or next week, that's too bad; it's just the outcome of the market.

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.

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.

These rules don't exist in nature; they are human creations. Governments don't "intrude" on free markets; governments organize and maintain them. Markets aren't "free" of rules; the rules define them.

The interesting question is what the rules should seek to achieve. They can be designed to maximize efficiency (given the current distribution of resources), or growth (depending on what we're willing to sacrifice to obtain that growth), or fairness (depending on our ideas about a decent society). Or some combination of all three - which aren't necessarily in competition with one another. Evidence suggests, for example, that if prosperity were more widely shared, we'd have faster growth.

The rules can even be designed to entrench and enhance the wealth of a few at the top, and keep almost everyone else comparatively poor and economically insecure.

Which brings us to the central political question: Who should decide on the rules, and their major purpose? If our democracy was working as it should, presumably our elected representatives, agency heads, and courts would be making the rules roughly according to what most of us want the rules to be. The economy would be working for us.

Instead, the rules are being made mainly by those with the power and resources to buy the politicians, regulatory heads, and even the courts (and the lawyers who appear before them). As income and wealth have concentrated at the top, so has political clout. And the most important clout is determining the rules of the game.

Not incidentally, these are the same people who want you and most others to believe in the fiction of an immutable "free market."

If we want to reduce the savage inequalities and insecurities that are now undermining our economy and democracy, we shouldn't be deterred by the myth of the "free market." We can make the economy work for us, rather than for only a few at the top. But in order to change the rules, we must exert the power that is supposed to be ours.


 

Comments   

We are concerned about a recent drift towards vitriol in the RSN Reader comments section. There is a fine line between moderation and censorship. No one likes a harsh or confrontational forum atmosphere. At the same time everyone wants to be able to express themselves freely. We'll start by encouraging good judgment. If that doesn't work we'll have to ramp up the moderation.

General guidelines: Avoid personal attacks on other forum members; Avoid remarks that are ethnically derogatory; Do not advocate violence, or any illegal activity.

Remember that making the world better begins with responsible action.

- The RSN Team

 
+79 # pappajohn 2013-09-16 16:35
The 'Free Market" is an Orwellian-like invention, although one invented in the late 1700s. In the 1930s, FDR finally implemented common sense protection for the 99%.

But since deregulation has taken over (starting in the 60s & 70s, and accelerating in the 90s and 00s), the largest banks, the too big to fail banks, have become massively over-leveraged in toxic derivatives. Trillions of dollars in worthless paper.

To the tune of 500% of US GDP.

They can never get rid of all of these toxic assets and survive. So for the big banks to continue to exist, they have to proceed with the charade that their balance sheets are based on actual value. Their assets are actually based on the phony inflated values of real estate derivatives that were all created in the lead up to the 2007 crash.

Until these phony assets are "written off," which would destroy these TBTF giants, the game must continue. Only real regulation, like FDR's Glass-Steagall, weakened over decades and finally repealed in 1999, will bring us back to reality. Dodd Frank is not Glass-Steagall, and even its weak regulations have been watered down by the Wall Street Congress and Bankster Owned Regulators. Wall Street Lobbyists know this, and will fight to the death to keep any and all regulations at bay.

John Miller
 
 
+28 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-09-16 23:07
How about that Eric Holder guy? "too big to jail." He told the 99 % to "stick it."
Frankly, the gov. did go after the large banks, particularly B of A. They paid a heavy financial price, but nobody went to jail. Lovely.
 
 
+2 # RLF 2013-09-17 04:47
The government by and for Goldman went after a select bank...when it should have gone after them all. We currently have a Justice system that is in the pocket of certain donors to the democrats...and we have a dumbass the head of it.
 
 
+11 # Skeptical1247 2013-09-17 10:12
Just to point out that on average, the Repubs get about 10% more in bribes than the Dems, and if Rmoney were Pres, things would be about 10% worse than they are at the moment.
 
 
0 # bingers 2013-09-19 08:11
Quoting RLF:
The government by and for Goldman went after a select bank...when it should have gone after them all. We currently have a Justice system that is in the pocket of certain donors to the democrats...and we have a dumbass the head of it.



Mors so the Republicans. Some of the Dems are NOT a part of the sellout, but without exception EVERY Republican is.

The Republicans to a man (or woman) are utterly corrupt, not so with most Democrats.
 
 
+9 # pappajohn 2013-09-17 09:43
Holder is on the payroll, just like the rest of the administration and our congress.

The biggest joke is how we work so hard and try to split hairs at election time, when the nominees are all vetted by the Banksters for pure thought and pliability! They would never let us vote for someone they don't approve of, and fund!
 
 
-1 # bingers 2013-09-19 08:12
What did you expect, Holder is from Wall Street. The AG we needed was Eliot Spitzer.
 
 
+6 # Sully747 2013-09-17 04:51
JM,... Never has so much been said in so few words. Thanks...
 
 
+2 # pappajohn 2013-09-17 09:40
You're welcome.

Wonder how we will ever get the word out to the masses?

(Similar situation in Guantanamo--we' ve tortured innocents for a decade. We can't ever let them go to tell their stories. They must die in prison.)
 
 
+1 # robcarter.vn 2013-09-17 16:55
Really I see only one way to solve the excessive 11-20% net profit of the rich Corp against AGP 2.7% is to recognize automation is killing Jobs ~ USA since WW II smashed a World for them to lend money, sell goods to & profit from export. You can't keep exporting your problems unless you smash the World repeatedly. How then?
Increase all fuel & power for commercials 100% and private say 50%. If industry can't afford the automation food they will employ humans again to eat their own wages. If the private persons can't afford the cost of transport roads etc, they will stay home and save instead of gallivanting all over the World chasing illicit sex their partners don't see, and a lot of luxury they can't really afford, they might even save for a rainy day.
War sent a billion or more into the jungle monkey dormancy and import reliance. Americans must realize the monkeys have left the junge, and corporate US has no NSA exclusivity, they sell technology and latest machines to those monkeys, who now have the facility to sell back goods and facilitate your parts outsourcing and at quality above your older machines that are still being amortized in the Corp US and USG books before they can afford to buy latest technology machines and compete.
 
 
0 # FDRva 2013-09-19 21:51
Absolutely. Glass-Steagall re-imposition is an essential starting point for a real recovery.

Rep. Kaptur (D-OH) has re-introduced a bill to that effect. And I suspect that bill could attract a bi-partisan coalition like the one that has, so far, short-circuited military intervention in Syria.

Sadly, the biggest stumbling blocks to its passage appear to be Hedge Fund manager's wife, Nancy Pelosi, and some folks at the White House.

Perhaps, Larry Summers fate will sober these Wall Street Dems up.
 
 
+51 # LizR 2013-09-16 19:49
The free market isn't a natural state of affairs - ask anyone from the 15th century! The natural order is Feudalism - or maybe it's the Roman Empire, with slaves and crucifixions. Or maybe it's living in caves...

D'oh. What's wrong with this picture? It's that there isn't much that's natural about the human condition, and that's just as well if we'd prefer lives that aren't nasty, brutish and short.

What separates us from other animals is language and technology (and the brains that go with them). The "free" market is something we invented (as is money). The only thing that *is* natural is what we call the "environment" - i.e. the bits of the world we don't control (yet) and which are currently threatening to shake us off like a dog removing a few fleas unless we do something about the effects of the "free" market pretty damn soon.
 
 
+35 # Mickeyfilm 2013-09-16 19:59
Everyone is writing and thinking too much. All of this is really simple. "We can make the economy work for us, rather than for only a few at the top. But in order to change the rules, we must exert the power that is supposed to be ours."
Simple, remember the movie "NETWORK?' Please, remember what the character in the film, Howard Beale said on network TV he was anchoring:I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've got to say, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' ....Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: "I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"
 
 
+21 # m... 2013-09-16 22:26
People don't yell out the windows anymore.... They yell at the TV and then feel as if they did something about it.
 
 
+7 # RLF 2013-09-17 04:51
or sign online to documents that disappear as quickly as the delete button is hit. This is the case of non-violent protests too...I'm afraid we're beyond fixing thing nicely.
 
 
+2 # pappajohn 2013-09-17 09:44
The world is run by those who show up.
 
 
+8 # RLF 2013-09-17 04:49
Why do you think they passed NDAA...it sure wasn't because of a few al caida jerks!
 
 
+2 # Skeptical1247 2013-09-17 10:42
To the contrary, not nearly enough thinking and writing is occurring, as in examining all that which is NOT working, looking for the "why" of it, then writing a document, a Party Platform if you will, or a Proposed Update to the Constitution to address the root cause of the problem, a document around which people could rally as strongly as they have to an outdated and very flawed US Constitution. These brave nitwits couldn't even generate a "List of Grievances" to give to the Press, when asked the inevitable question.."What Do You Want?"

"Occupy" was MAD AS HELL, yelling in the streets, and although capable, was unwilling for some reason to do their effing homework and birth the natural offspring of that revolt... A "Peoples Party" to exert pressure both within the political system and from without..massiv e organized boycotts, direct action against the Corporations, etc. withdrawing their money, withdrawing their debt, withdrawing their active participation in the very system dedicated to destroying their health, their financial well-being, and their political influence on their own behalf.

"Mad" doesn't cut it. Camping out in the streets, without doing some intelligent work, without some slight organizational skills, without engaging some brilliant minds in a collective effort to create effective actions (if not a single "hero", then at least a "Council of Elders"). It was do-able, and they screwed the pooch. Perhaps we'll be a little smarter next time.
 
 
+1 # Mickeyfilm 2013-09-17 20:43
I've spent over 40 years trying to make intelligent documentaries. that doesn't really seem to help much. Emphasis has to be more on what all this crap is doing to my pocketbook. Your right, Occupy was mad, but not mad enough. On our liberal side, there is enough great writing, and that has motivated me but then nothing happens. Period. And there are windows you can yell out of, just look for them.
 
 
0 # soularddave 2013-09-17 20:29
I haven't watched TV since 1967, and well, here I am!

Still mad as hell! (but I have company - thanks to RSN and all the great commenters)
 
 
+15 # cascadian12 2013-09-16 20:13
So the Fed has been buying those toxic assets to the tune of $85 billion a month ("quantitative easing"), which seems like a very odd way to take care of the problem. Doesn't this increase the debt? And aren't we all on the hook for this? All to enable the banks to continue churning money. Ultimately, it all comes down to the Stock Market - another farce. No one wants to cause the market to fall and to lose all that pension value.
 
 
-23 # RLF 2013-09-17 04:52
We certainly wouldn't want Obummer's owners to lose money...that's what taxes are for!
 
 
+13 # kalpal 2013-09-17 06:28
We certainly would not want bigots to curtail their bigotry since that would end the fun of disparaging people inasmuch as the bigots need to look down upon others because their own willful ignorance is so precious that it trumps everyone else's knowledge.
 
 
+3 # bingers 2013-09-19 08:16
Quoting RLF:
We certainly wouldn't want Obummer's owners to lose money...that's what taxes are for!


You can't blame Obama for the rampant Republican corruption, but you can blame him for not fighting them tooth and nail on it. Or for allowing scumbags like Paulson, Geithner and Summers within a light year of governance.
 
 
+20 # Shorey13 2013-09-16 21:22
The first rule of the "Free Market" ideology is that NOTHING CAN EVER BE FREE. The root of all evil is not money, but the idea that everything must have a price, and that price has to be based on how badly you need it and how much you have in your pocket.

All I want to know is: How Bad Does It Have To Get?

Apparently, a lot worse....
 
 
+33 # m... 2013-09-16 21:25
''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 whatever inequality or insecurity it generates is beyond our control. And whatever ways we might seek to reduce inequality or insecurity - to make the economy work for us - are unwarranted constraints on the market's freedom, and will inevitably go wrong.''

OF COURSE..!!! This is the fundamental sales pitch behind the entire 'SMALLER GOVERNMENT' (though endless Corporate Lobby formulations of Deregulation, De-Taxation and Privatization of Government) SCAM.

You hear it all the time from Corporate Conservatives, Corporate Media and their Pocketed Politicians

Government should be run like a business by business people!
Get Government out of the way!
Privatize Government into for-profit management!
Government cannot fix anything!
Government is the problem!
What we need is less Government!
Government inhibits growth!
Government assistance makes people lazy (even in 10% unemployment environments)!

Well, Compare the New Deal era with the current, ongoing era of the 'Reagan Revolution' and 'Smaller Government' Scam after 30 years of Corporatists efforts to create 'Smaller Government' according to their self enriching schemes.

This is the era where only Snake Oil Salesmen get rich and powerful..!
 
 
+11 # TCinLA 2013-09-16 21:34
Wall Street's the proof that Marx was right.
 
 
-5 # jtatu 2013-09-17 08:02
Actual history is the proof that Marx was wrong.
 
 
+6 # m... 2013-09-17 17:15
I disagree.
I'm a Capitalist.
But I am also a believer in a Government OF the People, BY the People and For the People... a GOVERNMENT THAT OPERATES FOR THE GREATER GOOD of THE PEOPLE--the collective of 'US.'

I believe that such a Government OF OURSELVES is one where We the People are empowered and served best through the power of Regulations, Taxation and a Government that is the 'proper' size with the 'proper' number of employees-- a.k.a.-- CIVIL SERVANTS, who work directly for the People according to the ebb and flow, evolution and devolution of what our society needs and requires for serving the greater good, the protection of all, providing a level playing field and the awareness that the Human Condition is complex, multilayered and is most certainly NOT exclusively framed in meaning by the concept that BUSINESS is the only meaningful thing in the universe.

Communism is certainly no panacea. Just ask any conservative.
And, Capitalism and the Free Market are certainly not AUTOMATIC PANCEA CREATING MACHINES which should be allowed to run amok as if its some sort of mystical magical gift from God that will solve all problems of the universe.

Conservatives are right. Communism is no Panacea.
Conservatives are also blind, dumb, obtuse freaks of nature when it comes to shoveling their ''Free Market Snake Oil Cure for EVERYTHING'..., especially since its mostly sold like snake oil to 'satisfying their need for greed.
 
 
-52 # AdamSmith 2013-09-16 22:13
A “rich” family in 1900 had no electric lights, phones, refrigeration, TV, radio, computers, cars, appliances, air conditioning nor access to air travel, antibiotics, or CT scans. A low-income family today has all that and much more.
How in a mere four generations was that much wealth generated? The answer is Capitalism--inn ovation and economic growth. To vastly improve the standard of living for all of us in the future, capitalism is the key--not merely redistributing what exists.
 
 
+29 # RLF 2013-09-17 04:54
Probably what caused it more than anything was the GI bill after WWII. Educating more than the elite made this country great...not the elite...they had run the country into the ground...like they have again...but this time they learned from history and have locked up all of the politicians.
 
 
+19 # kalpal 2013-09-17 06:31
You mean that the rich did all that work and invented all those wonderful inventions and those who were not already rich did nothing of value other than the labor that built the nation, fought the wars and crafted a soon to be eradicated middle class which the rich are ardently paying others to destroy.
 
 
+3 # Livemike 2013-09-18 01:48
Oh for god's sake if all you've got is strawmen SHUT THE HELL UP. He didn't say that the rich did all the work. Capitalism is not about the rich or the poor doing the work, it's about GETTING RICH(er) from doing things that make others better off.
 
 
+16 # Michael Lee Bugg 2013-09-17 07:16
The rich also didn't have jets, exotic sports cars, multiple grandiose homes, large ocean going yachts, and multiple shell corporations to hide income from taxation either. The wealthy have been redistributing wealth since before the Mayflower landed here by taking from their workers, by taking government contracts and subsidies, and by tax dodges and loopholes that leave more of the federal annual operating expenses and more of the national debt to the rest of us to pay from our limited incomes! It is past time for the workers in this country to stand up and claim their rightful share!
 
 
+11 # GravityWave 2013-09-17 10:03
Capitalism did so well because corporations weren't expected to be good citizens and clean up behind themselves. They got away with using any kind of chemicals no matter how dangerous to people and dumping their pollution anywhere. If they had had to be rational good citizens, things would have gone more slowly. Now we have a terribly polluted planet that is turning into a place people will have a hard time living with and may not get that done. So Capitalism, effectively, is killing us all.

That said, when regulated rationally, it can work pretty well to give us a modicum of freedom and better and longer lives.
 
 
+7 # dkonstruction 2013-09-17 10:21
Quoting AdamSmith:
The answer is Capitalism--innovation and economic growth. To vastly improve the standard of living for all of us in the future, capitalism is the key--not merely redistributing what exists.


If the "answer" is capitalism (which means at the very least a system based on wage-labor) then why did the other Adam Smith write in his private writings (on this see Michael Perelman's book "The Invention of Capitalism") that the only way to develop a sufficient pool of wage-laborers was through gov't intervention that: a) threw people off the land (and made it impossible for them to use "the commons" as they had always done) so that they couldn't be self-sufficient outside of wage-labor; and b) kept food prices up through tariffs again so that people would have to become wage-laborers in order to afford such luxuries as food? Why did Smith say this was needed? Because otherwise no one would voluntarily become a (capitalist) wage-laborer.

And that "all of us" whose standard of living was increased surely doesn't include and was at the direct expense of all those in the colonized world conquered through capitalist imperialism and why to this day 80% of humanity live on less than $10 a day and nearly half the world (3 billion people) live on less than $2.50 a day --

(http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats)

This is the true history and the true face of capitalism.
 
 
+8 # Skeptical1247 2013-09-17 11:00
Wow... a real master of jingoistic shallow thinking. Capitalism is in general a good thing. Completely unregulated capitalism spawns a cancer called Corporatism, which is a component of Facism, which will eventually kill us all... after enslaving us with debt and removing all human rights in favor of Corporate rights. This is not theory. It is documented historical fact. We are living it now. Corporatism destroys competition, stifles innovation, and currently, economic growth does NOT translate into improving the standard of living for all of us. Are you stupid or just been under a rock for the last 20 years?
 
 
0 # Livemike 2013-09-18 01:46
But corporatism hasn't happened where there is "completely unregulated capitalism" it happened where there was heavily regulated capitalism. Name a fascist regime that came from a relatively (not even "completely") unregulated capitalist system? It has _never_ happened. Stop drinking the elite kool-aid of "We need more regulation", every time you regulate the government gets more power, and that means the corporations get more power.
 
 
0 # bingers 2013-09-19 08:22
Every time capitalism goes with strict regulation (not stupid regulation) it eats itself and collapses. That's the ACTUAL history, not your wet dream of a benign, rational capitalism.
 
 
+14 # cordleycoit 2013-09-17 02:34
The only free market was the drug market and that is managed by enforcers, the Bannano's Bushes,and the K.C. Mob. The people who believe in free markets yearn for the Dirty Wars, disappearances and government by rape and plunder.
 
 
+24 # fredboy 2013-09-17 03:37
The "free" market almost killed our country in 1929 and 2008. Yet so many in "leadership" live only for the day and the dollar. Instead of building paths to a better future--a presumed national duty--they destroy them, and annihilate hope for a better day. This is called killing the spirit.
 
 
-2 # Livemike 2013-09-18 01:43
The country had a central bank and massive government regulation in both cases, so blaming the free market is simply a lie. Even the Federal Reserve chairman admitted it was the fed, not the "free market" that caused the Great Depression. Government spending hasn't been below 30% of GDP since when Clinton? Reagan? So how is there a 'free market'? Especially since there hasn't been a reduction in regulation in the USA since, I was in school. Look if you can't be bothered to learn the basic facts about something, _shut up about it_. Is that too much to ask?
 
 
+20 # Realist1948 2013-09-17 04:56
Belief in the miracle of the free market seems like religious belief in some ways. Both sets of beliefs are based upon what people have been told, not on objective analysis of reality. To question the sacred truth is to draw the wrath of the true believers and "leaders."

Capitalists have worked hand in hand with missionaries to colonize many parts of the world, replacing the native culture, belief system and power structure. Sometimes the capitalists and the missionaries are one and the same, like the Dole family in Hawaii.
 
 
+28 # dkonstruction 2013-09-17 05:28
Reich writes:

"In reality, the "free market" is a bunch of rules about(1) what can be owned and traded ; (2) on what terms ; (3) under what conditions (4) what's private and what's public ; (5) how to pay for what."

In other words, the "free market" is a myth and always has been. It has never existed. So, calling for a return to something that has never existed is just absurd at best.

When Adam Smith wrote about the "invisible hand" of the market he was also writing in his private papers about how the state needed to pass laws to force people to become wage laborers since no one would voluntarily do so. In England (the birthplace of capitalism) these were initially the Enclosures that forced people off the land (and prevented them from using "the commons" for things like food and fuel) so they could no longer be self-sufficient without becoming waged workers. Yet Smith is touted (by those who have either never read him or simply don't understand what they have read) as the father of laissez faire free market capitalism i.e., capitalism with no gov't intervention in the market).

In the US, our first industry, the railroads, only developed due to the gov't giving the owners free (or very cheap) land and providing sizable tax breaks. And this pattern continue to this day.

So capitalism has never been about a "free market" and has always been "regulated." Yet despite these regulations it has always been a system in which most of us get screwed.
 
 
+10 # kalpal 2013-09-17 06:35
The free market has never been free. It has been an arena which the rich controlled as stringently and viciously as they could within their ability to bribe politicians and elected officials to obstruct anyone from organizing into effective competitors..
 
 
+12 # jwb110 2013-09-17 08:06
I voted against the GOP/TP mostly for their grand scheme of ridding the country of the disenfranchised . I am a member of a minority that they are always on the attack about. My vote was a question of equal protection and access to the entire system that makes for better lives for ALL Americans. Mine was just a single vote but that is all the vote that I had. Now the GOP/TP lunatic fringe is trying to make it impossible for even that vote to be cast.
Here is where I think this may be going. When 99% of the population of America becomes a minority that is an incredible phenomenon. The greater phenomenon is when they realize they are the minority. Chances are they may vote for the ethical issues, their place in society, and leave the money issues to the thieves who have them now. The Syria outcry from the American population is a sea change from merely six months ago. It may very well become a redirection of the people to no longer trust that Washington and Corporate America "know better". I may not have a seat at that table in my lifetime but it is good to know that the people are taking back their chairs.
 
 
-12 # egbegb 2013-09-17 15:33
From reading Mr. Reich since he was a Labor Secretary, I conclude he doesn't even know what the "free market" is, let alone speak about it intelligently.
 
 
+7 # Texas Aggie 2013-09-17 18:06
Sounds like Dr. Reich has never heard of the divine right of kings. Doesn't he know that God ordained that rules are only for the little guy? If you don't believe me, just ask Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Roberts and Kennedy. Speaking of buying the courts.
 
 
-1 # bingers 2013-09-19 08:26
Quoting Texas Aggie:
Sounds like Dr. Reich has never heard of the divine right of kings. Doesn't he know that God ordained that rules are only for the little guy? If you don't believe me, just ask Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Roberts and Kennedy. Speaking of buying the courts.


I believe the SCOTUS 5 should be hanged for treason, possibly sparing Kennedy because about half the time he votes in accordance with the constitution rather than ideology, but the other four are, by any rational standard, traitors.
 
 
-1 # dbrize 2013-09-19 10:03
You need to switch to decaf.
 
 
0 # Livemike 2013-09-18 01:38
"By this view, if some people aren’t paid enough to live on," IN A FREE MARKET "the market has determined they aren’t worth enough."

"If others rake in billions," IN A FREE MARKET "they must be worth it."

"If millions of Americans remain unemployed or their paychecks are shrinking or they work two or three part-time jobs with no idea what they’ll earn next month or next week," IN A FREE MARKET "that’s too bad; it’s just the outcome of the market."

Notice the change there? We are not in a free market. We are in exactly the sort of regulation market your kind claims to want. Is it a surprise that people are paid billions in an unfree market for not producing anything worthwhile? No. Is it a surprise that some remain unemployed or their paychecks shrink in an unfree market? No.


Look Reich you know nothing about economics or free markets, why keep talking about them? You merely dishonour everyone who publishes you.
 
 
0 # fredboy 2013-09-19 05:52
I have seen a few comments claiming there is no "free market." When almost all banking regulations and safeguards are eliminated, when the Fed offers almost free money (1 percent and less) to the banks, when the big banks go sour and belly up and the government dives in to bail them out paying 100 cents on the dollar, and when no one is prosecuted and instead the attorney general declares they are "too big" to prosecute, you've pretty much defined a "free" marketplace.
 
 
0 # dbrize 2013-09-19 10:20
Quoting fredboy:
I have seen a few comments claiming there is no "free market." When almost all banking regulations and safeguards are eliminated, when the Fed offers almost free money (1 percent and less) to the banks, when the big banks go sour and belly up and the government dives in to bail them out paying 100 cents on the dollar, and when no one is prosecuted and instead the attorney general declares they are "too big" to prosecute, you've pretty much defined a "free" marketplace.


Ahem, no, what you have well defined is a sweetheart deal between large banking interests and government. Much closer to mercantilism or national socialism. We can pretty it up a bit by calling it "Crony" Capitalism.

It can only exist with government sponsorship by your own definition. Who do you think "deregulated" those banks? The "free market'? Nope, government.

Was it the "free market" that bailed them out? No again.

In anything approaching a "free market" those banks would have gone belly up and their assets would have been marked down and purchased by stronger hands.

Tough medicine no doubt, the kind politicians and their corporate sponsors of both parties have no stomach for.
 
 
0 # FDRva 2013-09-19 21:38
Quite agree with the author.

I might add that the persistence of the myth of the idyllic 'natural free market' is intertwined with the myth of the magic of money.

Currency, of course, is created by governments.

But many people, who also tend to be 'deficit hawks' act as though money were a finite natural resource with only so much to go around.

That this myth lingers is ironic, given the vast helicopter-load s of money that has been created under Bernanke-Bush-O bama and basically given to money center banks.

If those helicopter-load s of Bernanke money had been 'created out of thin air' to build bridges and power plants--instead of mere to bail-out select investment houses--I expect our employment picture would look a lot rosier.
 
 
0 # EverythingSolidMeltsIntoAir 2013-09-20 02:50
Capitalism, the word, the idea, the systems busily humming away utilizing Adam Smith's academic writing, is a slippery topic for all the reasons mentioned here.

Here Chris Hedges outlines a relevant modern discourse on the big C-word:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0bRgKrnR0M

So Capitalism whether you're an econ professor or an auto worker - is the commodification of everything.

Everything is bought and sold. Wheat, dirt, hats, your labor, etc. The derivatives market is an amazing example of how complex, confusing, and removed from material objects this system of trading can become.

Unfortunately the illusion of an open system that 'free-market' ideologues put faith in cannot exist within a closed system like Earth without being tempered by culture and its mechanisms, like governments. History has plenty of proof that growth has limits.

And so we reach the end game of the American political and capitalist simulation and the results of empire capitalism cannot be ignored - over population, resource degradation, cultural suicide strategies like facism, etc.

We must take over the parts of the system as it is, parts that we can control, and humanize them at the local level.

Holder putting Blankfin in jail would be great, but it is ultimately an irrelevant quarrel taking place within a country club.

Don't forget that your elected officials have simulated the repeal of Obamacare 42 times.

Direct local action is the best antidote to the country club.
 

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.

RSNRSN