Paul B. Farrell, a columnist for CBS Marketwatch since 1997, wrote a fascinating column entitled 11 reasons America’s a new socialist economy, How free market ideology backfired, sabotaging capitalistic democracy. This column is not only a must read because it is very well written (to lower than an 8th grade level, I might add) but because some of it is downright funny. I find much absurdity in the modern conservative.
He starts off talking about Milton Friedman’s 1962 Nobel prize winning Capitalism and Freedom (something I have always had much loathing for – and something I now feel I need to read in full for I fear that it may be far different than what I have been led to believe):
Too late to stop President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, those principles became the battle cries energizing conservatives since Reagan: Unrestricted free markets, free enterprise and free trade; deregulation, privatization and globalization; trickle-down economics and trickle-up wealth to an elite plutocracy destined to rule the new American capitalist utopia.
So what happened? Are you guys nuts? Hey, I’m talking to all you blind Beltway politicians (in both parties) … plus the Old Boys Club running Wall Street (into the ground) … plus all you fat-cat CEOs (with megamillion parachutes) … and all your buddies scamming everybody else to get on the Forbes 400. You are proof of Lord Acton’s warning: “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
He then goes on a point-by-point dissection of our economic woes – each with its own fascinating insight (which I have not included):
Here are 11 reasons your manipulations are sabotaging the great principles of leaders like Friedman and Reagan:
1. Dumber than a fifth grader with cognitive dissonance
2. Where did all the leaders go with their moral character?
3. Fed and U.S. Treasury adopted Enron accounting tricks
4. Deregulation creating new socialist housing system
5. Trade deficits outsourced more of America’s wealth than jobs
6. Banking system in meltdown, minting penny stocks
7. Ideologues preach savings, but still push spending
8. Warning, the market’s under 2000 peak, losing money
9. Inflation and dollars: Is Zimbabwe the new model for the U.S.?
10. Free-market health care failing 47,000,000 Americans
11. Conservative free-market policies inflated oil 300%!
On point number 10 (above), Mr Farrell writes (in part):
Conservative ideologues naively believe the answer is more pay-out-of-pocket insurance plans, even with 47 million already uninsured because they can’t pay. Here as in so many areas of our economy, free-market junkies really are suffering a severe case of cognitive dissonance, as blind to the facts about the uninsured as they are to their outdated free-market fantasies.
Mr. Farrell is, by all appearances, an old school conservative who, by his own words, feels that Reagan was someone with great principles. He is also a member of a group that was once called “Compassionate Conservatives.” I don’t believe much of that lives any longer.
I don’t agree with much of what Reagan did as president, nor do I hold him in such esteem that I want to see his face on Mt. Rushmore or the ten dollar bill. While I am not too often in agreement with conservative ideologies, I do believe in good fiscal policy and that is something which has been sorely lacking over the last eight years.
Clinton allowed the Republican Congress to put through legislation which led to our current economic debacle. George W. Bush and his Republican Congress made sure that greed won out and anything or anyone else did not matter. And as if a boomerang, it is now returning to slash the head off of the giant that was once capitalism (and conservatism).
One last quote:
Friedman was right: Congressional spending is the biggest cause of inflation, and, wow, those conservatives sure did love blank-check deficit spending the past eight years!
If you have any interest in our economy or markets, this is a must read.