(Article for the Huffington Post July 16th, 2008)
On Wednesday President George W. Bush touted the success of market forces in driving oil prices so high that people are starting to cut back on the amount of gas they use. And as rising fuel prices continue to spill over to the price of produce and other goods, will he also brag about the success of market forces in getting people to cut back on food?!
With the economy crashing, gas prices soaring, and precious American jobs (and breweries) fleeing overseas, can we please stop letting Republicans pretend that "market forces" are the solution to all our ills?
It's bad enough that capitalism is a notoriously belated solution to any problem. But, I don't think conservatives believe it themselves. Like their spurious claim to favor a "culture of life" - a conveniently idealistic mantra that flies in the face of their preference for a culture that is pro-war, pro-death penalty and anti-health insurance - "market forces" is just something to say to weasel out of actually doing anything to help matters. It silences their opponents (lest they be branded communists) and lets them go on about the business of not doing a damn thing about the problems they've helped to create in the first place.
Republicans claim to want market forces to solve gas prices and the cost of health care, because these are problems they don't want solved. And since market forces have already proven themselves disastrously ill-equipped to the challenge, well... problem solved!
Yet, when it comes to actual incompetence in business - something market forces are ideally suited to deal with - they're far less confident in the market's natural ability to clean house. Immediate action must be taken, in the form of a government bailout at taxpayers' expense.
It seems the only thing more genuinely "conservative" than evading market forces is the complete subversion of those forces through blatant market manipulation - as in the Enron case. There is no higher good, in the neo-con ethos, than upending the entire economy in order to make a buck. Even if it devalues the buck.
As consumers continue to scramble for ways to cut back, in the midst of an economy that the President himself claims is in need of stimulus, I'm sure he'll continue to cling to the delusion that years from now, when "smart" people have finally figured out a way out of the hole he's dug for us, that we'll look back on the damage done by his administration as the seeds of all our future successes. Or, at least, the hole.
"Enough with the Market Forces"
by Jeff Goode, copyright © 2008