It can be confusing, what with all the noise out there. With Ayn Randian “dog-eat-dog” Neocons pushing us to let the markets determine our collective fate through free trade and nothing more. It’s confusing, because on the surface the utter simplicity of Rand’s economic philosophy sounds like it should work. Which is probably why so many on the far-right get sucked into her “get it for yourself or get lost” mentality. It’s something they can understand.
Thing is, it can’t work, because no matter how hard you try, no matter how much money you save, a point might arrive at which you will need the help of others and no amount of cash or pleading will save the day. The British came to that conclusion when they saw the wisdom of establishing their National Health Service following World War II. It’s socialized medicine, and it works.
It isn’t enough to imagine “a thousand points of light,” as George H.W. Bush urged us all to do. Imagination is a wonderful thing, but imagining won’t get it done. It’s up to us to do it. Just like the British did.
Contrary to Ms. Rand’s anti-altruistic dogma, people need other people.
There’s also the problem of free-trade being thoroughly bogus in a climate of monopolies and price-fixing. Which is to a degree, what we now have in America, following decades of “merger madness,” giving monster corporations a free hand in gobbling up competing companies one by one, leaving us with a handful of media giants, monster oil multi-nationals, big-box superstores killing small “mom and pop” businesses and too-big-to-fail banks owning the Congress and the White House.
They (meaning the uber-wealthy of Wall Street), pretend our current troubles are caused by the high cost of the US Postal Service (which is a lie), unions (which they have nearly eliminated), middle-class dependency on Social Security and Medicare (basic common sense humanism), food assistance and Medicaid for low income individuals and families (again, common sense humanism) and demands from the left for somebody to regulate big business to prevent a return to full-blown feudalism – which is what they want and where we are currently headed.
Occasionally though, a tiny bit of truth manages to dribble out.
Such is the case with the Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, who blamed the recent world oil glut on a lack of price-fixing, or as al-Naimi put it, Non-Opec nations “will realize that it is in their interests to cooperate to ensure high prices for everyone.”
And there you have it. The Saudi’s answer to falling oil prices is an international price-fixing conspiracy to maintain prices at a higher level than is possible through free trade.
Free trade isn’t what contemporary wealth-management is about. It’s about the wealthy doing whatever they must to acquire additional wealth. Beyond that, it isn’t about merely remaining wealthy, it’s about the unsustainable goal of constant and never-ending expansion, regardless of the harm it does to others.
In a word, our contemporary economy, which benefits the relative few through monopoly at the expense of the many, is uncivilized.
At the top of the Wall Street’s current civilization killing dog-eat-dog to do list, is the abolition of government regulation, even (and perhaps especially) when that regulation ensures free trade.