The American Prospect: Opinion: Robert Kuttner: The Libertarian Delusion
Just to start off about the so-called free market and if we’re going to talk about the free market we might as well talk about Santa Clause since neither one of them exists. As much as Libertarians and so-called Conservatives talk about the free market, that is not what they’re talking about since their market wouldn’t be free. Sure, perhaps from government regulations, but non-regulated market is not a free market. Especially if government is subsidizing that market through taxpayer-funded subsidizes.
The other thing about the so-called free market is that business is just part of it. Government is another part, workers are another part and consumers perhaps the most important part of the market. Because without consumers where would business get the resources to do anything and pay their workers. Where would government get the resources to do, well anything. So when you say the free market should set wages, prices and anything else. Are you saying that government, business, workers and consumers should all come together like a Congressional conference committee and decide what the wages and prices should be? Or are you talking about something else.
When Libertarians or Conservatives talk about the so-called free market they sure as hell aren’t talking about bringing the whole market together do negotiate those key issues. They are talking about getting government out-of-the-way so business’s can make these decisions for themselves. Under their so-called free market there would be no such thing as organized labor or collective bargaining. Because again business would have the power and be free to make all of those decisions themselves. So as long as we’re talking markets free or otherwise let’s be clear and factual about what we are talking about.
So what type of market are we talking about if we’re not talking about a free market? We’re talking about the private market and private enterprise. Which is what produces most of the products that we all consume, pay for and generally enjoy and tend to pay for at affordable rates. And everyone whose to the right of a Marxist meaning the Democratic Socialist all the way over to the Libertarian on the Right believes in some form of a private market. It all depends on what type of private market and how big it should be. How much it should be regulated and how much it should be taxed. With the Democratic Socialist the market would be the smallest and most regulated. With the central government being the dominant player. With the Libertarian the private market would be the biggest and not regulated or taxed at all.
And since we all want a private market, well everyone except for the Marxist, it’s just a question to what degree. And for me as a Liberal I want a huge market with as much freedom and choice and consumers with money to spend as possible. That is regulated and taxed yes, but to protect consumers and workers from predators. And to provide government with the resources that it has to have to provide the services that only it can provide and that it does well. Security, law enforcement, regulations, education, infrastructure, safety net and job training for our low-income low-skilled adults so they can also live in freedom and off of government dependence.
The libertarian idea of the market is basically government go home. Other than protecting the borders and stopping criminals that hurt people. The social democratic idea of the market is that government provides most of the essentials that people need to live well in life. With private enterprise being for things that are more luxury items and things we would use recreationally and transportation. But that the central government provides us with most if not all the essential insurances that we need in life. That people would be free not to take responsibility over their own lives and not to have to make choices. I want an educated society that is protected from predators with everyone having the knowledge to be able to manage their own lives themselves both from an economic and personal perspective.