Throughout the entire economic debacle there has been one recurring theme: This is the fault of free market capitalism. Now, I am no economist – and as much as I’m trying to catch up I know there are people here that can explain Austrian economics much better than I will ever be able – but I know enough to know that we have not been living in a truly free market economy for a very long time. Unfortunately, because of the Bush Administration, Republican members of Congress, and Rush Limbaugh/Fox News “conservatives” throwing the term around, it has lost any semblance of its true meaning. Laissez Faire, Adam Smith (forgive me for not mentioning Mises, but Smith is a more recognizable name), free market, capitalism, etc. have all become dirty words inside the beltway and on the cable news networks (accept of course for Fox News, who are determined to see the term free market belittled to the point where it will never have a legitimate meaning again).
At some point early this summer I was driving in my car suffering through the Thom Hartmann show on progressive talk radio – which I only listen to because I got sick of having my patriotism questioned through my car radio by conservative talk radio hosts for not supporting the war in Iraq. A caller asked Mr. Hartmann if then-Democratic nominee Barack Obama should consider Ron Paul as a member of his cabinet if he were to win. After complimenting Dr. Paul’s antiwar credentials Hartmann decided to explain to his listeners how they should not be fooled by the good doctor’s antiwar stance because libertarians are worse than Republicans in terms of privatizing government services – including ending Social Security (guilty as charged) and privatizing the military through the use of private military companies like Blackwater Worldwide. After confusing corporate socialism from free enterprise, the progressive’s progressive would then go on to explain how libertarians are mostly young people, or were spoiled children, because they don’t understand how the world really works.
Now, I don’t blame Mr. Hartmann for his misunderstanding of what the free market is. I blame the phony conservatives like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly – as well as those in Congress – who sing the virtues of the free market without understanding what it actually is. With spokesmen like these it is no wonder why people believe that the economic crisis is a product of “Free Market” capitalism.Published in