Bill Moyers: “Laissez-faire” is French for turning off the alarm until the burglars have made their getaway.

July 19, 2008 | By | 5 Replies More

Bill Moyers has some sharp comments for those who believe that the Free Market offers free, effortless and unrivaled wisdom:

[W]hen you worship market forces as if they were the gods of Olympus, then the gods can do no wrong – until, of course, they prove to be human. Then we realize we should have listened to our inner agnostic and not been so reverent in the first place.

But we also get into these terrible dilemmas – where the big guys step all over everyone else and the victims are required to pay the hospital bills – because we refuse to recognize the connection between money and politics. This is the great denial in democracy that may ultimately mean our ruin. We just don’t seem able to see or accept the fact that money drives policy. It’s no wonder that Congress and the White House have been looking the other way as the predators picked the pockets of unsuspecting debtors. Mega banking and investment firms have been some of the biggest providers of the cash vital to keeping incumbents in office. There isn’t much appetite for biting – or regulating – the manicured hand that feeds them.

Financial services corporations are only the most recently publicized target of Moyers’ criticism. He has sketched out numerous other cases of “artful lobbying,” which he translates as “graft.” It is a sober reminder that, unbeknown to the People, our Constitution has been quietly amended to allow big corporations to make most of the laws in this country.

For more criticism aimed at those who insist that the “Free Market” will wisely guide us, and that we thus don’t need to use evidence, intelligence and forethought to set public policy, see these DI posts:

We are naive fools to wait for the free market to save us from impending shortages of critical natural resources.

“Push capitalism” turns us into full-time consumers and non-citizens.

The Invisible Hand needs a hand.

We need to hunt down and kill Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand.

No Intelligent Designer needed for the economy.

It makes ECONOMIC sense to invest in disadvantaged children while they are young

The Fourth Person in God: The Free Market


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Category: Corruption, Economy, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (5)

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  1. Although I'm sure most people here know George Carlin's take on education and the American dream, but here it is again, just in case.

  2. Paul Wren says:

    What is the source of this Moyers commentary?

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    Paul – sorry, I left off the link. I have now added it.

  4. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    I hear the self proclaimed businessmen parrot the "Free Market" mantra and it is obvious they believe that a "free" market is a venue without government restrictions of the suppliers. This is incorrect. Free market is a theoretical simplification where all suppliers have equal access to the consumers and can supply identical goods or services, and the suppy is greater than the demand.In a free market, quality is reduced,prices are reduced and profits are reduced/

    The opposite of a free market is a "controlled" market. A controlled market occurs when a single entitiy ( it doesn't matter if the entitiy is government , a corporation, a cartel, or a middleman ) has control of the supply. This results in low quality, high prices and high profits.

    A completely controlled market is also a theory, A function economy dynamically balances itself some where in the middle when supply and demand are pretty much equal. What we actual heve is a trend toward a privately controlled market.

  5. Erich Vieth says:

    Democratic rival Barack Obama blamed the Republican anti-regulatory fervor of recent years for part of the mess [$85 B loan to AIG], saying the crisis is "a stark reminder of the failures of crony capitalism and an economic philosophy that sees any regulation at all as unwise and unnecessary."

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