If you’ve noticed the similarity between religious kooks and prophets of the free market you’re definitely paying attention. Both are bedeviled by the same old dogmatic religious fervor, impervious to pragmatism, results or reason. Indeed faith in the free market or the theory of the free market is as much an exercise in faith in the supernatural as faith in narratives embedded in holy writ.
A conservative conceded on a cable show today that government subsidies may indeed benefit start-up industries fully capable of flourishing later, as opposed to acting merely as crutches for failed enterprises or failed ideas. Of course, she noted that as a “free market person” she is against subsidies on principle. Oh, those principles. One reason sticking to them is so harmful and ill-advised is that principles need not be effective and certainly aren’t inherently good. Infidels everywhere should die, and only white people should govern America are principles too.
Letting the banks and the auto industry collapse in the name of free-market religious purity is fine if you believe you’re going to hell if you don’t do it. Otherwise, as a policy maker or government leader you are simply a disaster, pure or not: millions of jobs and livelihoods are on the line, as is the health of the American economy and the suffering or prosperity of masses of Americans.
The worshipfulness of conservatives toward the market, especially the hopelessly and forever adolescent adoration of Ayn Rand among so many Republican officials has become a national menace. It isn’t for grownups, Mr. Ryan. Republicans, donate your dog-eared copies of Atlas Shrugged to your local chapters of Young Americans for Freedom and move on with your lives. Most of you are infidels anyway, adopting or accepting all manner of impurities, manipulations, impingements and interferences with free operation of the market. Likely you were unaware of your sins, or never contemplated the varieties of sin; or perhaps, your behavior synchronizes with your partisan objectives or is politically or personally advantageous.
Adherence to dogma or subjugation to theory for the sake of doing so is not a social or government goal. The goals of society and the goals of government are to create and sustain the best possible circumstances as possible for the largest number of people as possible. And in fact no one wants to live in the world these theories actually would create. Sure, an America without Medicare or America without Social Security would more fully comply with Paul Ryan’s Rand- infused ideals. But nobody wants to live in the place.
Civilization is important too, and the human quest to diminish risk, pain, avoidable calamities and broad hardship is what civilization is. Go back if you wish, but don’t try taking the rest of us with you. I haven’t checked with a realtor, but Marlon Brando’s Tahitian island may be up for sale. Your producers can pave it, drill it, defoliate it, deracinate it, suck it dry and melt it down, leaving nothing behind but a poisonous cloud and exposed rebar having lived the dream. You can even chortle at the non-productive parasites left behind in the wasteland.
As I often note, the irony of a political segment of America widely hostile to evolution incessantly citing Darwinism as justification for the economic practices they favor reduces one to tears of amusement. Science, Republicans’ bête noir in every other circumstance suddenly is their friend. The joke is on them of course, if they believe there’s anything scientific about social Darwinism, a dumb, intellectual non-starter, which if not oxymoronic entirely eludes sense.
But in the free market of ideas, whatever floats your boat.