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Michael Medved, Debauch - Elf M. Sternberg
Michael Medved, Debauch
"I believe that the free market and religious belief are more important in shaping our country than anything the government does."

Medved said that on the radio yesterday, and it stayed in my mind because there's so much inanity and contradiction in it that I can't believe it came out of his mouth.

First off, the market isn't free. Never has been, never will be. Governments, even the simplest of them, must tax to survive, and since the founding of our country tax policy has been used to encourage some activities and discourage others, always within the limits of what the populace would accept. Thus, taxes on vice (drink, gambling, smoking, etc.) have usually been popular, and so have tax credits on virtue (education, home ownership, charity). Unless we want to eliminate all of that, we will never have a "free market."

What we have now is a myth, a myth than the American system rewards labor and ingenuity. In fact, the American market's tax system is tilted only toward having money, and reward having money, and consequently penalizes labor and ingenuity.

But I guarantee you that Medved does not want a free market. Because a truly free market sells people exactly what they want, and what most of them want is vice. Oh, not all the time, surely, but a truly free market would be one where not only can you buy and sell alcohol, drugs, and porn, but in order to be truly free there must be no criminal penalties for doing so: criminal penalties are just as much sand in the free market gears as economic penalties. If one person wants to sell cocaine, and another wants to buy it, and they come to a mutually agreed upon price, then why should the government have any say in this consensual capitalist intercourse?

So, Medved is either a complete moral debauch, or a ferociously self-contradictory fool. I'll vote for the former; the latter is unlikely to be entertaining.
7 comments or Leave a comment
atheorist From: atheorist Date: June 11th, 2012 02:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

graeber's debt

Have you read Graeber's Debt? He argues, among other things, that markets were (and are) created primarily by nations in order to organize the logistics for their militaries.

E.g. An armed band says "everyone has to give me one of these special tokens every year or suffer the consequences" and then starts handing out tokens in exchange for supplies and labor.
elfs From: elfs Date: June 11th, 2012 02:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: graeber's debt

I haven't read it yet, but I have been encouraged to do so. On the other hand, the egregious errors in the sections on modern corporations, soundly reviewed and abused by Brad DeLong among others, make me wonder about the quality of the scholarship.
atheorist From: atheorist Date: June 11th, 2012 02:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: graeber's debt

I don't know how to evaluate the scholarship, but it's worth reading as a science fiction novel, filled with thought-provoking stories and plausible chains of causation.

He definitely has a slant/an axe to grind/a vaguely anarchist agenda, but I think it might well shape the vocabulary and imagery used to discuss these issues, regardless of the scholarship.

shockwave77598 From: shockwave77598 Date: June 11th, 2012 03:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
A society without rules is anarchy. Plain and simple. So is a marketplace without rules. If there was no govt. regulation and limits, then oil companies could spill oil all they want and destroy the entire gulf, because it is cheaper than all this safety and prevention gear.

We have seen time and time again how robber barons act when business is "free".
hydrolagus From: hydrolagus Date: June 12th, 2012 01:43 am (UTC) (Link)
A thought on the myth: perhaps what we have is intermittent reinforcement regarding the American system rewarding labor and ingenuity. Since it sometimes works, we hold onto the idea that it should work if we just keep on doing it.
elfs From: elfs Date: June 12th, 2012 01:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, then, let's be honest and tell people the truth: the American dream is a gamble. It's a complete crapshoot whether or not it applies to you. It's like Calvinism, in that respect.
hydrolagus From: hydrolagus Date: June 12th, 2012 02:07 am (UTC) (Link)
The thing about intermittent reinforcement is that knowing the truth doesn't necessarily help. People keep gambling because maybe this will be the time. And if you don't have money, ingenuity and labor are the best game available. But telling people the truth would be the ethical thing to do, as would not basing political decisions on the myth.
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