The Columbia Critic

A place to debate anything we want to. We'll talk Columbia campus issues. We'll talk up the homosexual problem. We'll talk China. And we'll talk without resorting to partisan rhetoric. We may be left. We may be right. But we aren't going to be quoting any party line. We're leading the discussion. But feel free to chime in. Hannity and Colmes this is not.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Myth of the American Free Market

An excellent article by David Sirota on the myth of the American free market. People should know by now that we have never been "free market capitalists". We are and have always been "what's best for the American economy and will put up whatever protectionist barriers and tariffs we want to" capitalists. We only push for free markets and rapid market liberalization in developing countries and those in debt before we go in and squash them even further into debt. But that's just the cynical extremist inside me talking, Sirota actually has a very detailed and thorough discussion on the subject. It is worth your time to read.

Flattening the Great Education Myth & the Free Market Fundamentalists
David Sirota

Partisan War Syndrome rages across the progressive blogosphere. Wall Street Democrats hide their corporate fealty by declaring a new era of "The Common Good," claiming as their own a term their arch enemy, Noam Chomsky, coined years ago. Democratic lawmakers cheer about bringing a "change" to Washington, talk up important efforts to better-fund education, then quietly begin reassuring K Street that all will be the same when it comes to structural economic issues.
And lost in the din is the most important question: will free market fundamentalism finally be openly challenged?

That is the question I pose in today's San Francisco Chronicle in an op-ed entitled "Flattening the Great Education Myth." The piece describes a recent community meeting here in Helena, Montana and how local officials, hamstrung by a national trade policy that undermines their communities, are forced to focus exclusively on education as the way to build the economy. But, as the hard data shows, we cannot simply educate our way out of the problems associated with a globalization policy whereby our economy is regulated exclusively to enhance multinational corporate profits - and not to enhance ordinary people's lives.

Read more: LINK


  • At 3:00 PM, Blogger Brian said…

    Haven't had a chance to read the article yet, but I will, I swear. My initial comment, though: it is always important to remind people that protectionism runs rampant in our "free market," and that many actors try to game the system to win big. At the same time, this realization should not lead us to oppose trade or globalization. For many liberals, the deficiencies of the system are an excuse to attack the whole system as opposed to its failures. This flawed approach is economically incorrect and dangerous to our continued prosperity. Trade, on a basic level, is an unequivocal good--it is how societies prosper in their relations with one another. But for the big nations to take advantage of both each other and the less developed nations leaves many in the dust. That is why bills like the African Growth Opportunity Act, which allow for tariff-free imports of apparel and other goods from impoverished African nations, are important in creating a tide that raises all boats.

    On the other hand, we should avoid going to far in our love of free trade. It has recently been stated by a group of economists who were at the front of capitol liberalization that circumstances have proven some assumptions about liberalization incorrect. Now, they say that developing nations should not allow for free capitol flows (which, in case of a scare, can flow out of a nation so quickly as to cause a collapse, i.e. the 80s in Mexico and 1997 in East Asia). Instead, they now say that certain criteria need to be in place, including an established central bank and financial structure, before such flows should be completely liberalized.

    Even as we criticize the system, the decision-makers are adapting to improve. We just need to keep up the pressure to ensure that free trade is "fair" in the sense that the system is open equally to every actor.


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