Free market extremism

Jackass whisperer

It's easy to feel like a "jackass whisperer" when trying to give advice to Governor Pope and Deputy Assistant Governor McCrory. It's not that either man is dumb, but it's safe to say they both suffer from a version of the Midas Complex. Pope, in particular, reduces the entire world to dollars and cents, which is why his career as a slum retailer has been so successful.

When it comes to the broader social goals, however, neither man has the sense god gave an animal cracker. So in the spirit of taming jackasses everywhere, I offer this provocative article from the business section of today's New York Times.

In praise of greed

John Hood, stage manager at the non-profit Art Pope Puppetshow, is at his free-market best today with a selective nod in the direction of accepting reality.

The reality here is that most people act with regard to their self-interest most of the time. They work in order to feed, clothe, house, and otherwise take care of themselves and their families. They’ll also gladly give of their time and money to causes they deem worthy, but that’s not their primary motivation to work, save, and invest.

Fortunately, another reality to accept is that intentions don’t determine results. When governments use coercion to force people to act contrary to their personal choices, the results are often disappointing regardless of how well-intended the government program may have been. And in a market economy, individuals freely transacting business to mutual advantage tend to advance the common interest by promoting innovation, lower prices, better service, and economic opportunity.

How can you disagree with that? Individuals freely transacting business to mutual advantage. Of course in some cases, that mutual advantage means you're a kid who doesn't get the crap beat out of you. Sounds like heaven to me.

Weekend wound-up: Running government like a business

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Free-market extremists say they want to run government like a business, except in one really important way. They don't want government to compete. Odd isn't it? If what they say is true about free markets, the Invisible Hand of Capitalism depends on competition to do its magic.

Let government compete?

My illegal friend

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I offer this not as a solution to anything, but simply to humanize the issue. It is about my friend, whom I will call Alex.

Alex is the son of a middle-class Mexican family that couldn't keep it together in their home state south of our border. With too many children to feed, the father entered the US illegally 20 years ago. Ten years ago, when Alex was 18, he followed his father to America legally, on a work visa. When his visa expired, he chose to stay here illegally. When he tells the story, it's clear it was a hard decision. Had Alex returned to Mexico, he would have lost his job working at a cement factory. His father, who was injured and disabled at the same factory five years earlier, returned to Mexico and is no longer able to work. Alex is the sole source of income for his parents.

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