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Monday, October 13, 2008


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In my latest blog entry, I said "I guess my overall point is I support the ideals behind the Free Market theory to a certain degree. But when corporations are operating at a level that can impact people that aren't their investors, employees, or customers, I think the government needs to address that."


Xark, did you stay up all night? The economic history of this country is replete with periods of governmental intrusion in the marketplace, with little success. Europe, with socialist ideals built into the political systems of each country, is still The Sick Man. If one thinks the EU is the highest form of that branch of political evolution, then we should absolutely avoid even glancing in that direction.

It's fair to say that our model of democracy/free enterprise/capitalism could use a rejuvenative period at a health spa, but it ain't time to jump onto the bandwagon that has demonstratively not worked for our English and French mates.

Maybe we should cast our eyes to the East, where states have managed to fashion a form of capitalism that works for most (remember.....in capitalism there are some losers).


By coincidence, here is a post by Mark Cuban that offers a free-market to the kind of investing that got us into this mess:


Sensible regulation, through bi-partisan legislation, free from the nefarious influence of lobbyists, is way better than jumping 2 parsecs to the left.


I agree -- Job No. 1 should be the Lawrence Lessig "Change Congress" agenda that I promote at the top of the page. Do that and we'll get public-spirited, practical legislation. Ignore it and we'll just stay on the broken merry-go-round.

As I noted at your blog, I'm not interested in solutions that abandon market freedoms. The market will always be the engine.

What we disagree on (maybe... we might agree on this, too) is how you set up the rules in which the markets operate. The discussions that don't go anywhere are the ones in which free-market advocates refuse to acknowledge that government plays any role in setting up and regulating markets and the seldom-heard arguments for replacing markets with government planning.

So: Let's fix congress, recognize that "socialism" is a continuum, and split the difference and jump just 1 parsec to the left. That should put us closer to the middle.

But let's also think about how technology, travel, global warming and globalization have changed things. I have this sneaking suspicion that if we can get the new market rules right, we'll unleash another stunning advancement of abundance.


Mr. Zulu, prepare for warp speed.....


Mr. Zulu, prepare for warp speed.....


"Agricola", who obviously isn't a farmer, wrote: "Xark, did you stay up all night? The economic history of this country is replete with periods of governmental intrusion in the marketplace, with little success. Europe, with socialist ideals built into the political systems of each country, is still The Sick Man"

Are you delusional, or simply ignorant?

Median disposable income is higher throughout Europe, poverty rates are lower, infant mortality rates are lower, health by all measures is better, when surveyed "happiness" (!) is better, transport is better, they're ahead of us in technological development in every field except computing (and catching up fast), they have more popular support for their governments, higher voter turnout, et cetera.

I suppose you think the New Deal -- the most dramatic government intervention in the marketplace in the US -- was a big failure, too. Well, nobody who's actually studied it agrees with you.


Even though Agricola was arguing against me, I want to argue just a bit on his behalf, at least when it comes to Europe. I lived in Germany for two years in the 1980s and European attitudes towards work, in particular, struck me as annoying.

One of my best friends was an Englishman who was simply living there because he could get a better standard of living on German unemployment than he could back in the East End of London. People had a generally comfortable standard of living and the security of health care and unemployment insurance, but it wasn't a mobile society, and it certainly didn't strike me as innovative.

Since then I've read several memoirs of Americans living in rural France, and there's always a chapter about the American learning to adapt to the French ways of "work," which doesn't seem like work at all to the Americans in the story.

For all those weaknesses, though, there are things that I think they simply do better than we do, and the 21st century is making those things more important. I suspect that some New Deal-style "socialism" (infrastructure projects backed by government spending) may be required to help us catch up... and I also suspect that my friend Agricola believes there are better ways to achieve those goals.

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