Mudcat Café message #959166 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #59921   Message #959166
Posted By: toadfrog
25-May-03 - 11:29 PM
Thread Name: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
Mr. Hardly: Well, assuming everything these guys are saying is terribly unfair, how about your assertion: "If there is a phrase that might sum up the driving force behind liberalism as it philosophically approaches economics it would be It is morally (more on "morally" later) unacceptable for anyone to have what he wants if there is one person who does not have what he needs." That is a parody. It is not a good-faith argument. The idea is, if all the wealth and power is lumped in a few people, it destroys the democratic idea. And is subversive of the common good as well, because the wealthy and powerful will, if unrestrained, put their own interest ahead of the common good.

As to inserting "moral" values into the argument, it is necessary because the market does not necessarily either deliver sound policy decisions or moral ones. A free market will probably maximize the production of wealth - if you make a number of assumptions, such as everyone having perfect information about the products, their cost, and their usefulness, which is not usually true, because vendors of products would often prefer not to provide accurate information - among other things. Also, presence of monopolies will defeat a free market much more effectively than government involvement. But as a rule of thumb, a free market will produce more wealth.

But the reason people bring in these "moral" issues, is that market fundamentalism often is used as a dishonest ploy when what is at issue is not the maximization of wealth, but moral and policy issues. In this context the statement that the market should decide quite simply means the people with the most money must have their way. For example, to say matters of health care should be determined by the market is to say health care should be provided only for those who can afford it. To say that schools should be a matter for the market is to say there is no point in educating the poor. It is fashionable to say, we must have SUV's because there is demand for them, regardless of their effect on the environment, because the market demands them. That is just wrong, because the common good requires a healthy and educated population. It is dishonest to cloak arguments about who should have power, and what values should govern, it pseudo-economic jargon, as if science mandated we be ruled by an oligarchy.

And to say the market must govern is in some contexts, to say whatever is, is right. Some of us are disturbed by the extremely large amounts of money taken out of the economy to pay senior management, or CEO's. We are always told, the market requires it. Have to pay a lot to get top managers. That makes no particular sense, because the correct amount to be paid managers is determined either by the managers themselves, or by their close friends and collegues.