21 January 2012

The real free market

About a week ago, I was listening to The Stephanie Miller show. A caller phoned in with the typical conservative talking point about how social-welfare programs enabled poverty and kept African-Americans and other minorities down. As I expected, the host and her mooks parroted the usual Democratic and ineffectual counter arguments but it occurred to me as I listened that a better response might have been along these lines:

"Dear caller, the reason we need anti-poverty programs is because of the economic system we've locked ourselves into. There is a 'free market.' It's called the 'labor market,' and it's where individual workers are pitted against each other in a ruthless race to the bottom of the wage scale. Meanwhile, oligopolistic corporations use their bought-and-paid-for politicians to rig the system so they can confiscate as much wealth as they can get away with, starving the commonwealth.

"If you want to reduce people's dependence on social welfare, at the very least you're going to have to radically redistribute wealth in a fairer way, and give workers the right to flex their muscle in the work place (i.e., "unions")."

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