Monday, September 22, 2008

Fundamentalists In Suits

When we think of “fundamentalists,” what often comes to mind are the Muslim extremists who carried out the attacks of 9/11 and those who continue suicide missions in the Middle East. 

But this recent financial crisis reminds us that the fundamentalists who pose the greatest threat to America don't live in Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Iraq. They live here.

They are free-market fundamentalists.

Free-market fundamentalists, also known as small government proponents, believe that capitalism naturally works its best when the government remains out of the private sector. They argue that regulations and taxes of any sort hurt productivity and investment.

This powerful ideology, referred to as the "Chicago School of Economics," was formed by Milton Friedman, an influential economist who taught at the University of Chicago several decades ago. His research and experience led him to the idea that, when it comes to the economy, government is bad—very bad, in fact.

Current adherers to Friedman’s beliefs are Wall Street elites, corporate executives, and the Republican Party. They oppose welfare, healthcare, and education funding because large tax revenue is needed to support these programs.

And I don't know if you know this by now, but free-market fundamentalists hate taxes!

Instead, Friedman’s followers favor privatizing social security and letting competition handle expensive healthcare premiums. Sound familiar? Perhaps it does, because these are the precise policies that have been supported by
senator John McCain of Arizona, the Republican nominee for the 2008 presidential election.

Interestingly enough, while free-market fundamentalists take every opportunity to denounce programs like food stamps or housing for the underprivileged, they remain oddly quiet when the government
subsidizes their corporations or, as occurred recently, rescues their firms from collapsing.

The lesson learned from the recent financial meltdown is simple: Deregulation escalates corruption, and corruption destroys the market.

So I’m still scared of fundamentalists, it just may not be the same kind that you're scared of.

1 comment:

KiNeTiC said...

The economic fundamentalists love to wave their favorite cards:
"small government"
"no government intervention"
and the best:
"the market will work itself out"
but when the biggest financial crisis since the great depression everyone is in favor of governmental life support. The inevitable is being delayed even longer. Good bye healthy economy it was nice knowing you...