Friday, May 14, 2010

The free market

The current financial calamity does not “threaten the key ideas” that have dominated economic policy in the United States and abroad for the past 35 years or so. By all empirical evidence it absolutely shreds the economic theology that prevailed and unhappily still underlies the effectiveness of the resistance to any meaningful remedial action by bankers, by other purveyors of financial services, and by their congressional and media agents. ...

Regulating the too-big-to-fail, for-profit service corporations would interfere with the free market – “distort” is usually the chosen word – and that would be bad. By definition.

Every time I see or hear the phrase “free market,” I have mixed feelings – a mix of anger and exasperation. Why? Because there is no such thing as a “free market;” there has never been any such thing, and never will be. What’s more: it is hard to believe that those otherwise intelligent people who prattle about “the free market” don’t know that. So it is easy to conclude that those who do use the phrase are simply monumental cynics or are suffering from an acute case of cognitive dissonance. ...

Richard Abrams, professor emeritus of history, UC Berkeley
(via Maxine Udall)

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