I'm no expert in economic theory, but there's something about the glib promises of free-market fundamentalism that has never seemed to add up. So lately I've spent time reading things written by people who know a lot more about it than I do. One of those people is Fred Block, who has a thought-provoking article up at the Longview Institute website.
If you're at all interested in the cataclysmic clash between free market mania and the progressive pursuit of the common good, please take time to read it. I especially liked his conclusion:
Market Fundamentalism is actually more vulnerable than ever. As the dominant viewpoint for more than twenty-five years, it has a proven record of failure. Despite years of increasing reliance on markets, poverty and inequality are worsening, the health care system is in crisis, corporate crime and corruption are widespread, and we have fiddled as the crisis of global climate change has intensified.
Progressives have to invest resources in campaigns that chip away at the dominance of Market Fundamentalism. These could be giant campaigns such as a battle for universal health insurance or something far more limited such as an effort to eliminate those annoying television ads for prescription drugs that mostly serve to drive drug prices ever higher.
We might lose such campaigns in the short term, but they would produce tangible benefits. First, there would be real spillovers to other fights. Whether the issue is access to health care, controlling greenhouse gases, anti-poverty programs, corporate corruption, or labor rights, conservatives consistently defend their position by invoking Market Fundamentalism and the wisdom of the market. If a campaign on health care weakens people’s belief in these ideas, it will help in the next battle for tighter environmental regulations or for improved labor rights.
The second benefit is that campaigns that attack Market Fundamentalism can help us peel away some voters who are currently aligned with the religious right, but who are susceptible to arguments for building our economy on moral foundations. It could also help break up the business community’s almost monolithic alliance with the Right, since many businesses would obviously benefit by bringing health care costs under control.
There's a lot more good stuff there, so I hope you'll take a look.
And if you wonder why any of this is important, the answer is simple. Art "the Puppetmaster" Pope and the John Locke Foundation are in the business of spreading myths about free-market fundamentalism around North Carolina ... to the point where small-minded policymakers actually want to adopt their ideas into public policy. Part of our job is to expose the truth behind these scams and drive these delusions from the public arena.