Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Empty Promises of the Free Market

Photo by John Attebury

Government Regulation gets treated like the girl at the party no one invited. But it's the only thing that can save us now, and since we are generally undereducated when it comes to the way our governments, home loans, or credit cards work, I'm worried we may lose it.

I don't see regulation as slipping the handcuffs over the Adam Smith's precious invisible hand, but telling the hand not to steal from us or poison our people. Letting big business do what it wants doesn't seem great for the common man. But these teaparty folks who are supposed to represent "joe the plumber" are trying to kill the middle class off.

Why do big energy companies avoid taxes? Because we don't give our government enough power to go after them. The IRS goes after the little guy, because the little guy doesn't have a lawyer and an expensive accountant. The IRS doesn't have enough money to go after the big guys, because they don't pay taxes and the IRS is underfunded. It's a mess, but it's our fault. We have to stop saying no to taxes and hold our government more accountable when it comes to spending.

As Americans we need a serious attitude adjustment. How is it that we stand by and let the people with the most money just keep it? I think most of the people who have a ton of money got their by learning that sometimes you have to cheat. And now we have the real American dream: Cheating your way into Millions and not getting caught.

I've been reading pro-free market responses to the banking crisis. They imply we don't need to put in laws to protect "stupid people who can't read a contract." Have you taken a look at a credit card application recently? Or the letters they send you when they change the APR rules on you. It's really f'ing complicated, and I consider myself and educated person. In fact, I have a college degree. It seems like allowing people to sign something they dont understand while dangling a carrot in front of them like, for instance, money they need to feed their kids, is wrong.

So... When I take my trips to India hoping to inform the population and improve working conditions, I feel a little hopeless. Indian government regulation in the mining sector is a joke. And it's such a joke, it's taken the wind out of my sails. People make money enslaving others, and bribe they people who regulate their industry. Everyone knows it and while some NGOs are making a stink, things seem to be getting worse. Large companies are going to rape the resources of the third world and charge them for infrastructure projects meant to increase employment, but in the end will increase slave labor and the bank accounts of the people in the world that are already rich.

Concepts I take issue with:

Private enterprise works on a voluntary basis ->
Yes. If poor people had options I would buy this.

markets are self-regulating ->
Reading this and knowing people believe it makes me cry.


FatCatWatch said...

Yeah - good article, it's all nice in theory but there is no such thing as a free market and hence the greed factor.... and twisted sickness in this world that we are all a part of... The hand doesn't need to be smacked, it needs to be smashed with a hammer.... starting with me... Capitalism forces people to screw everything else with continual growth... But do we really need all this crap in the first place?

BlueMoon said...

The way I look at is that yes, we do need some of that "crap" and someone needs to provide it to us. It's the society that we've evolved into and now we have to figure out how to make it better. There are some really interesting new (and not so new) companies that are providing people with a choice as to what kind of company they buy from and what types of products and services they buy. What we have to do is get on that band wagon with, support those companies and demand change. I like the article.