Tag Archives | Free Market

The Danger Of Putting A Price On Everything

market societyVia Motherboard, Harvard philosophy professor Michael Sandel on our slide toward a market society:

In recent decades we’ve been in the grip of market faith, which says that markets are the primary instrument for achieving the public good. This assumption has gone largely unquestioned in the past 30 years. As a result from that we have drifted from being a market economy to being a market society.

A market economy is a valuable tool for organizing productive activity. A market society, on the other hand, is a place where everything is up for sale, in which money and market values begin to dominate every aspect of life. From family and personal relationships to health, education, civic life, and politics. We need to step back and ask some fundamental questions about what the role of money and markets should be.

Utilitarianism assumes that all good things in life can be translated into a single uniform currency or a measure of value, typically money.

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The Free Market: Means or End?

Picture: Elembis (PD)

Jason Bernard Claxton writes at Counterpunch:

Free market advocates sometimes champion the free market as a means to an end, sometimes as an end in itself.  Sometimes the free market is better at achieving certain goals than any alternative, sometimes there is no alternative.  Sometimes the free market is the best way of achieving prosperity, security, and a good life for a people, sometimes the free market is “the only moral system.”  If it were clear at any given moment which justification were being offered, a lot of confusion might be avoided.  But free market advocates often take both positions within the same argument – a strategy that is rhetorically effective, but logically dubious.

When an owner’s right to dispose of property exactly as that owner desires is considered morally ultimate, then the free market becomes an end in itself.  And if individual property rights are so sacred that no state of affairs that market intervention could possibly bring about would justify the rights violations that market intervention implies, then it simply wouldn’t matter whether more market regulated economies are more productive than free market economies.

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On The Rise Of Predatory Privatization

People for the American Way‘s paper (available in PDF form) titled Predatory Privatization, is a must-read overview of how corporate players are attempting to use state and local budget crises as an opportunity to seize essential public assets and functions, making America closer to an oligarchy:

Privatization is a wonky term that can obscure the real mechanism and process at work. Through privatization schemes to outsource traditional governmental functions, taxpayer dollars are diverted from the building of public assets and institutions to create long-term revenue streams and profit for corporations.

Through privatization schemes that directly sell off assets that belong to the public, legislators enrich corporate interests at the expense of the long-term interests of the American people in assets their taxes have helped build. The privatization of the people’s assets is essentially permanent.

The agenda of privatization schemers was manifest at last August’s American Legislative Exchange Council meeting in New Orleans where ALEC members urged that the government, meaning the people, should not own buildings but should sell them to the private sector, which could then lease the space back to the government at a profit.

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How Much Is My Body Worth?

Via the Guardian, Storm Theunissen discusses her experiment to find out, ultimately learning that we are worth far more dead than alive:

In Britain…there are various legal ways human body parts can be sold. I tried to see how much of the human body can lawfully be put up for sale: by trying to sell as much of my own body as I could.

I tried to sell my hair. I was quoted £50 by a hairdresser in London that specialises in harvesting human hair to make wigs for chemotherapy patients. The British pharmaceutical industry uses many bodily fluids to test new drugs, and I was hopeful for a decent sale upon learning they pay up to £1,750 for 1ml of blister fluid, £1,000 for a cup of saliva and £1,600 for a gram of earwax. The best offer I got was £30 for some blood. Another clinic would have paid me £50 for some skin – if I had psoriasis.

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The History Of Neoliberalism — And How To Undo It

neoVia New Left Project, London School of Economics professor Jason Hickel on the 1980s rise of neoliberalism — the belief system that defines our reality:

I often find that my students take today’s dominant economic ideology – namely, neoliberalism – for granted as natural and inevitable. This is not entirely surprising given that most of them were born in the early 1990s, for neoliberalism is all that they have known. In the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher had to convince people that there was “no alternative” to neoliberalism. Today, this assumption comes ready-made; it’s in the water, part of the common-sense furniture of everyday life.

If an economist living in the 1950s had seriously proposed any of the ideas and policies in today’s standard neoliberal toolkit, they would have been laughed right off the stage. As Susan George has put it, “That the market should be allowed to make major social and political decisions; that the State should voluntarily reduce its role in the economy, or that corporations should be given total freedom – such ideas were utterly foreign to the spirit of the time.”

The neoliberal model was made – intentionally – by specific people.

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God Helps Run The Economy?

God & MoneyCathy Lynn Grossman reports in USA TODAY:

The way you see God tells a lot about how you see the U.S. economy, a new national survey finds. About one in five Americans combine a view of God as actively engaged in daily workings of the world with an economic conservative view that opposes government regulation and champions the free market as a matter of faith.

“They say the invisible hand of the free market is really God at work,” says sociologist Paul Froese, co-author of the Baylor Religion Survey, released today by Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

“They think the economy works because God wants it to work. It’s a new religious economic idealism,” with politicians “invoking God while chanting ‘less government,'” he says.

“When Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann say ‘God blesses us, God watches us, God helps us,’ religious conservatives get the shorthand. They see ‘government’ as a profane object — a word that is used to signal working against God’s plan for the United States.

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Tyson Foods Revokes Activist Chicken Farmer’s License To Raise Chickens; Farmer Sues & Loses Appeal in U.S. Supreme Court

TysonFoodsMark Sherman reports on the AP via Yahoo News:

The Supreme Court on Monday turned down an appeal from a former Tennessee poultry farmer who sued Tyson Farms after losing his contract to raise their chickens.

The justices did not comment in turning away Alton Terry, who said Tyson cut him off because he helped organize area farmers and complained about the company’s practices. Lower courts had previously dismissed the lawsuit.

Terry, essentially, argued that he lost his contract to raise chickens on his 12-acre farm, because he squawked too much.

Terry was a poultry farmer who brought together a group of area farmers and told them they had the right to complain about Tyson’s practices. He also raised concerns directly with Tyson, among the world’s largest meat companies.

Terry says Tyson and other big companies have too much sway over farmers, and federal courts also have bowed to agribusiness interests by setting too high a standard for the farmers to succeed in court.

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6 Secret Monopolies You Didn’t Know Ruled the World

Cracked has a cool way of introducing a line of thought for the internet fanboys ... here's a recent article from Christina H. on Cracked.com: QuantaWhether You're a Mac or a PC, You're Probably a Quanta
Start any Mac vs. PC debate and sooner or later someone will bring up how Macs' "highest quality components" make the choice equivalent to "Porsche vs. Camry." Of course, Apple likes to play up this perception, invoking the picture of PCs made sloppily in sweatshops while Macs are put together in sparkling white labs by Apple store employees. Not only are the laptops you're arguing about both put together in Taiwan, but very likely even by the same company. Taiwan's Quanta Computer makes 33 percent of all laptops in the world, including Dells, HPs, Sonys, Toshibas and yes, Macs.
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