Letters to the Editor

The free market?

Thursday, May 17, 2018

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Dear Editor,

To my thinking, economic theory always entails and/or supports the basic economic philosophy of the theorists and it does so in direct proportion to their potential to influence or 'scare' the political and business elite. At one end of the spectrum is the rabid, unbridled religiosity of the free market absolutists, and at the other is the always disruptive, perhaps to a large degree, indefensible control, morality sensitive apparatchiks. In-between is pragmatic rationality and common sense. Confusingly, at every point along the scale there is the endless battle between theory and related intent.

I have always thought that the “free market” descriptor is the most subtle of oxymorons. Essentially, no defined market can in any way be free. If nothing else, there are at least two inevitable costs with significant and lasting implications: the cost of entry and the cost of maintenance or remaining in the market.

Note that neither the market nor these costs are ever limited to purely monetary considerations. Together, these costs tend to drive indifference to and abuse of consumers regardless of whether or not they actively participate in the marketplace. In short, they almost single-handedly ensure the absolutely transactional nature of our feigned morality, economic or otherwise. I tend to understand the position of various economists depending on where on the scale they may reasonably be discerned to be. In other words, there is no purity in economic theory. Likewise, there is never purity in outcomes.

In general, the commentary clearly justifies its contention that the various periods of ascendency of various free market thinkers do have meaningful impact on national economic policy and practice. While this should surprise no one, it is nevertheless very useful to understand how and why the political elite, especially, is influenced by economic theories regardless of the extent of the alignment of these theories with particular political philosophies.

OJ

ojames41@gmail.com

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