While Keynesians sputtered over Stagflation, the Chicago School had better answers. Democratic thinker Elaine Kamarck argued that welfare reform succeeded in key areas. And one of the smartest education policymakers today is Gov. Bill Haslam (R-TN).
So give credit where credit’s due–conservatism isn’t inherently dumb. This makes the roots of Republican dimness even more depressing to contemplate. Many viruses swim in their intellectual bloodstream. By far the deadliest, however, is free-market fundamentalism.
Like its religious counterpart, market fundamentalism demands unconditional loyalty and vigilant policing. No matter the problem, market solutions are axiomatically correct. Government intrusion is seen as inherently corrupting. Representative Tim Moffit, for instance, once expressed concern that Commerce’s “job link” would compete with private sites, something fearsome because public involvement itself is immoral, impure and debased.
That disgust requires market idolators to eschew reason for the sake of the faith. Truth be said, this can sometimes be amusing. But like all crusades, the free-market revival imposes rigidity and makes nimble thinking impossible. In a dynamic world, this is toxic.
So free-market fundamentalism handicaps our response to challenges. For all its faults, government must play a role in solving our problems. It rectifies market failures and sometimes even contributes positively to growth. Slashing it so wantonly is like burning books or exiling heretics, destruction wrought by a crazed zealot.
Alexander Jones is an original contributor to PoliticsNC.
Truth be told, and it rarely is, the market has never been ‘free.’ It’s never been self- leveling, correcting, or responsive in times of dire economic downturn. It can’t be left alone to monitor itself or regulate itself. Just like the claims of the extreme right concerning government, the market too can become self-serving.
So this notion of ‘free market’ is prefaced on some notion or verbiage that was used long ago by someone speaking and writing of a time far removed from our own and our circumstance.
Herbert Hoover learned that all too well when, as a classical economist, stayed cleared of the market when it crashed. His hands off approach sank this country into the worst downturn of our still adolescent country, and it took over 10 years and a world war to rectify.
There are certainly times when we as a nation and a people should act conservatively. There are likewise times we should capitalize on opportunity and proceed/progress forward with little constraint. Knowing when those times are can be difficult to judge and manage, particularly when you have a lunatic fringe contingent on either side shouting, screaming, and gnashing their teeth in vehement opposition to anything except what they want and are willing to go to any length to obtain it.
The end does not justify the means.