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Robert Reich on Free Markets (1 Viewer)

JP Hochbaum

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"One of the most insidiously deceptive ideas 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. 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 on the free market -- 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 and government always messes things up.

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 protection? ); (3) under what conditions (poisonous drugs? unsafe foods? deceptive Ponzi schemes? uninsured derivatives?) (4) what's private and what's public (police? roads? clean air and clean water? healthcare? good schools? parks and playgrounds?); and (5) how to pay for what (taxes, user fees, individual pricing?).

In other words, markets don't exist in a state of nature; they're human creations. Governments don't intrude on free markets; governments organize and maintain markets. Markets aren't "free" of rules; the rules define them. The rules 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). They 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.

If our democracy was working as it should, elected representatives, agency heads, and courts would be making the rules roughly according to what most of us want the rules to be. 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). Not incidentally, these are the same people who want you and most others to believe in the fiction of an immutable "free market."

Which is all to say: If we want to reduce the savage inequalities and insecurities that are now undermining our economy and democracy, we have the right to do so. But we must exert the power that is supposed to be ours.
 
... Which is all to say: If we want to reduce the savage inequalities and insecurities that are now undermining our economy and democracy, we have the right to do so. But we must exert the power that is supposed to be ours.

Markets don't work as a tool for implementing public policy.
 
"One of the most insidiously deceptive ideas 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. 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 on the free market -- 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 and government always messes things up.

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 protection? ); (3) under what conditions (poisonous drugs? unsafe foods? deceptive Ponzi schemes? uninsured derivatives?) (4) what's private and what's public (police? roads? clean air and clean water? healthcare? good schools? parks and playgrounds?); and (5) how to pay for what (taxes, user fees, individual pricing?).

In other words, markets don't exist in a state of nature; they're human creations. Governments don't intrude on free markets; governments organize and maintain markets. Markets aren't "free" of rules; the rules define them. The rules 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). They 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.

If our democracy was working as it should, elected representatives, agency heads, and courts would be making the rules roughly according to what most of us want the rules to be. 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). Not incidentally, these are the same people who want you and most others to believe in the fiction of an immutable "free market."

Which is all to say: If we want to reduce the savage inequalities and insecurities that are now undermining our economy and democracy, we have the right to do so. But we must exert the power that is supposed to be ours.

Funny. The savage inequalities and insecurities undermining our economy, which resulted from unfair rules & practices put in place and enforced by politicians, are expected to be corrected by politicians.
 
"One of the most insidiously deceptive ideas 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. 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 on the free market -- 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 and government always messes things up.

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 protection? ); (3) under what conditions (poisonous drugs? unsafe foods? deceptive Ponzi schemes? uninsured derivatives?) (4) what's private and what's public (police? roads? clean air and clean water? healthcare? good schools? parks and playgrounds?); and (5) how to pay for what (taxes, user fees, individual pricing?).

In other words, markets don't exist in a state of nature; they're human creations. Governments don't intrude on free markets; governments organize and maintain markets. Markets aren't "free" of rules; the rules define them. The rules 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). They 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.

If our democracy was working as it should, elected representatives, agency heads, and courts would be making the rules roughly according to what most of us want the rules to be. 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). Not incidentally, these are the same people who want you and most others to believe in the fiction of an immutable "free market."

Which is all to say: If we want to reduce the savage inequalities and insecurities that are now undermining our economy and democracy, we have the right to do so. But we must exert the power that is supposed to be ours.


Lots of this fits into the thanks for pointing out the obvious category. To say that markets are human creations shoots the hell out of the concept of monkey and elephant markets. Of coarse markets are human creations. Also true is that there is no truly free market. Some markets are freer than others however. Financial markets are highly regulated. Farmers markets not so much. Anti trust laws are examples of government regulation in markets that support markets. Tariffs, price controls and subsidies are mechanisms implemented by governments which impede the natural functioning of markets which are governed by supply and demand and competition. Markets are most functional when they are governed least but certainly government has a place involving themselves in markets. Those areas should be consumer protection, protection from force, fraud or monopoly. Other than that, the further government stays away the better.
 
Governments don't intrude on free markets; governments organize and maintain markets.
lol. Governments don't intrude on free markets? What world is Robert living in. That they SHOULD be primarily focused on organizing, maintaining, and setting appropriate rules, is obvious, who was denying that? One giant strawman. If I know JP, he won't actual take Robert's words as his claim, so the entire thread is just us pissing in the wind of Robert who is not here to back, clarify, or otherwise engage in these claims.

If our democracy was working as it should, elected representatives, agency heads, and courts would be making the rules roughly according to what most of us want the rules to be.
Tyranny of the majority is what he wants. What an asshole. How about a government that us supposed to protect our rights, not enforce the majority on us. WTF.
Which is all to say: If we want to reduce the savage inequalities and insecurities that are now undermining our economy and democracy, we have the right to do so. But we must exert the power that is supposed to be ours.
The most savagely unequal in the U.S. lives in ****ing luxury compared to the absolute savagery that dominates most of our entire human species throughout all of history, even today. Liberal propaganda as usual.
 
Funny. The savage inequalities and insecurities undermining our economy, which resulted from unfair rules & practices put in place and enforced by politicians, are expected to be corrected by politicians.

You forgot something.....

"which resulted from unfair rules & practices put in place and enforced by [corrupt] politicians"

Figure out how (why) they have been corrupted and your well on your way to solving the problem.
 
No, free markets don't exist.

Nuance please. Markets exist in the general sense any time there are two individuals who exchange things of value. We do legally create formal markets, and set rules using trade organizations, private groups, and state, local, and federal governments. Of course that's a fact of reality, who was debating it wasn't the case? And, there is a range of interaction each of those institutions can have IN such markets. A government can set rules and not play the game, or they can set rules and play some, or they can set all rules and play 90% of the game, etc. And we've seen examples of each throughout history.

"Free markets' don't exist" is dumbing down the debate. The debate against Robert who isn't here to debate of course.
 
You forgot something.....

"which resulted from unfair rules & practices put in place and enforced by [corrupt] politicians"

Figure out how (why) they have been corrupted and your well on your way to solving the problem.

Give a politician the power to enrich themselves and they will do it, much more often than not. I didn't specify corrupt politicians because it was implied...
 
You forgot something.....
"which resulted from unfair rules & practices put in place and enforced by [corrupt] politicians"
Figure out how (why) they have been corrupted and your well on your way to solving the problem.
Power corrupts.

So give us your big solution that has the power to change policy, but no power since power corrupts. This should be interesting....I'm all ears (eyes really).
 
Markets existFree markets do not
This is what is meant by "free market" in common language in the U.S.
:A central feature of the U.S. economy is the economic freedom afforded to the private sector by allowing the private sector to make the majority of economic decisions in determining the direction and scale of what the U.S. economy produces.[SUP][81][/SUP][SUP][broken citation][/SUP][SUP][neutrality is disputed][/SUP] This is enhanced by relatively low levels of regulation and government involvement,[SUP][82][/SUP][SUP][dead link][/SUP] as well as a court system that generally protects property rights and enforces contracts
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_the_United_States
 
Tyranny of the majority is what he wants. What an asshole. How about a government that us supposed to protect our rights, not enforce the majority on us. WTF.

Talk about a strawman...

As opposed to tyranny of the wealthy elite?

I understand, as I'm sure is JP, that we are a republic and that the majority is constrained, rightly so, by the Constitution

The most savagely unequal in the U.S. lives in ****ing luxury compared to the absolute savagery that dominates most of our entire human species throughout all of history, even today. Liberal propaganda as usual.

Yes because comparing conditions over hundreds of years is relevant. :roll:
 
Give a politician the power to enrich themselves and they will do it, much more often than not. I didn't specify corrupt politicians because it was implied...

In order for a politician to improperly improve his/ her position they must have opportunity and the reasonable expectation that they can do so without having to answer for it.

While the nature of the position provides opportunity, it is the accountability part that can be changed.
 
No, that is not the definition of a free market.

Why are you being so tedious? So you are supporting Robert's straw man. And, ignoring what I already informed you of in this context. Following one of the first links in that very source
The term free-market economy is sometimes used synonymously with market economy, but it may also refer to laissez-faire or Free-market anarchism.[SUP][6][/SUP]
Market economy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

But the kicker is that if we take YOUR preferred definition, it’s about a non-existent thing.
In reality market economies do not exist in pure form, since societies and governments regulate them to varying degrees.[SUP][4][5]
[/SUP]
So stop with the semantic nonsense. Either you are claiming that the term free market in the way you and Robert use it is a non-existent thing, in which case you're absurd for debating about aspects of it. Or, you can accept that people do in fact refer to economies as free market, when it's really a vanilla market economy that centrally exhibits the aspects associated with a "free market economy". As summarized in the prior post.
 
Yes because comparing conditions over hundreds of years is relevant. :roll:

mach said:
The most savagely unequal in the U.S. lives in ****ing luxury compared to the absolute savagery that dominates most of our entire human species throughout all of history, even today. Liberal propaganda as usual.
You're incorrect csbrown28, you didn't accurately read it. It including all recorded history up to and included present day, as bolded above.
 
You're incorrect csbrown28, you didn't accurately read it. It including all recorded history up to and included present day, as bolded above.

The most savagely unequal in the U.S. lives in ****ing luxury compared to the absolute savagery that dominates most of our entire human species throughout all of history, even today. Liberal propaganda as usual.

So, help me understand, this; "The most savagely unequal in the U.S. lives in ****ing luxury compared to the absolute savagery that dominates most of our entire human species throughout all of history."

If you're not comparing the past to the present with this statement, what was the point?
 
Why are you being so tedious? So you are supporting Robert's straw man. And, ignoring what I already informed you of in this context. Following one of the first links in that very source
Market economy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

But the kicker is that if we take YOUR preferred definition, it’s about a non-existent thing.
[/SUP]
So stop with the semantic nonsense. Either you are claiming that the term free market in the way you and Robert use it is a non-existent thing, in which case you're absurd for debating about aspects of it. Or, you can accept that people do in fact refer to economies as free market, when it's really a vanilla market economy that centrally exhibits the aspects associated with a "free market economy". As summarized in the prior post.

As your Wikipedia link proves, free market economies do not exist

I am right
 
Why are you being so tedious? So you are supporting Robert's straw man. And, ignoring what I already informed you of in this context. Following one of the first links in that very source
Market economy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

But the kicker is that if we take YOUR preferred definition, it’s about a non-existent thing.
[/SUP]
So stop with the semantic nonsense. Either you are claiming that the term free market in the way you and Robert use it is a non-existent thing, in which case you're absurd for debating about aspects of it. Or, you can accept that people do in fact refer to economies as free market, when it's really a vanilla market economy that centrally exhibits the aspects associated with a "free market economy". As summarized in the prior post.


I may be arguing semantics here, but the term "free" in "free market" has a certain cultural bias attached to it. I'd think that most of us value and enjoy freedom, so is opposing "free" markets opposing freedom?

Of course it isn't but I think it's a theme that is played on.

I think a truer term would be "unrestricted market" and changing the term or not, that's really what is meant.
 
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In order for a politician to improperly improve his/ her position they must have opportunity and the reasonable expectation that they can do so without having to answer for it.

While the nature of the position provides opportunity, it is the accountability part that can be changed.

The opportunity part can be changed as well. Not eliminated entirely, but certainly made much more transparent.
 
The opportunity part can be changed as well. Not eliminated entirely, but certainly made much more transparent.

I agree, though initially I was thinking of transparency as part of accountability, I'll agree with you 100%.

So then back to your original statement. I recognize that, as informed as I try to be, there are just going to be situations I know little about. That's why we have representatives. Many times I can't judge their decisions until after the fact, but in the end, this system is the best we have. Identifying the incentives that politicians have and those of the people that try to corrupt them is the begining of improving the system

In the end, separating money and special interests from our representatives and maintaining the greatest amount of transparency possible seems like a dam good start.
 
I agree, though initially I was thinking of transparency as part of accountability, I'll agree with you 100%.

So then back to your original statement. I recognize that, as informed as I try to be, there are just going to be situations I know little about. That's why we have representatives. Many times I can't judge their decisions until after the fact, but in the end, this system is the best we have. Identifying the incentives that politicians have and those of the people that try to corrupt them is the begining of improving the system

In the end, separating money and special interests from our representatives and maintaining the greatest amount of transparency possible seems like a dam good start.

I agree with that statement almost 100%. What would you propose to change to make that happen?
 
I may be arguing semantics here, but the term "free" in "free market" has a certain cultural bias attached to it. I'd think that most of us value and enjoy freedom, so is opposing "free" markets opposing freedom?
Debating semantics is fine, even appropriate for many serious discussions, by all means please do. Refusing to, as Sangha has, is what's absurd.
If Robert were here to back up his claims, we might get somewhere. As I have noted, JP posting Robert's claims...who exactly is making the claims that we can debate against? Crickets.

I think a truer term would be "unrestricted market" and changing the term or not, that's really what is meant.
I agree that is one possible interpretation, certainly not appropriate though. Plug that definition into the argument, and of course that's likely a strawman. What significant group in our population (Since he's talking economic policy that effects us all) was claiming that they wanted unrestricted markets? Do you really think Robert was debating someone who made such an absurd claim? It's OK if you do, it's a valid interpretation, I just don't think it's very reasonable. But either way, I can't read Robert's mind, and he can't defend himself, so I don't really expect you to bear his burden.
 
I agree with that statement almost 100%. What would you propose to change to make that happen?

I can't claim to know I could propose something here that would solve the problem, but I could think of a few things that would move us in the right direction.


Over everything else is removing the influence of money over our elections and by way of extension votes

Start with the repeal of Citizens United.

Fund elections with public money

Overhaul the way pork gets added to bills in Congress.

Just a few ideas to get the ball rolling, I really don't feel like writing a book....In the end I think it's important to recognize that Democracy in our Republic becomes decreasingly viable as money and the influence that it provides is shifted into the hands of fewer and fewer people. IT is, IMO the single greatest challenge this country faces.
 

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