Sunday, August 19, 2007

What Free Market?

Don’t you just love these Wall Streeters, these high-flying hedgers?

When they’re raking in billions in mortgage skullduggery, and a booming housing market makes them look like geniuses, they praise the system to the skies. Capitalism has proved its superiority. The Free Market is the system nature intended. Which is why Americans must never let socialism in any form sneak into our way of life: neither as socialized medicine, nor as handouts to the poor. Free Market medicine must be allowed to work. Though some may suffer from a "correction" here and there, this is the only medicine that ever has, or ever will produce a cure. It must be swallowed.

But then the housing market goes bad. People start to default on payments. "Subprime" loans are suddenly in the toilet, increasingly joined there by everyone, including the banks themselves. No one, not even the big boys, can get credit.

"Help," they cry. "The government must help. The Fed must help." And of course the government does, pouring billions of new currency into the system. And the Fed goes it one better, cutting interest rates despite its recent warnings about the dangers of inflation. And Wall Street breathes a sigh of relief, singing hosannas in the highest:

"The system works,"they crow. Look how we’re rebounding.

Excuse me? The system works? By bailing out the fools who pushed credit on everything with a pulse able to sign its name? By rewarding those who committed the unpardonable crime in capitalism—taking high-stakes, stupid risks? Isn’t capitalism supposed to punish precisely this kind of failure? Isn’t that what the free market is about—correcting by ruthless pruning every venture that does not turn a profit?

Well yes, but that’s when the mistakes are made by the lower classes. By the poor. By the underprivileged. When the gaffes are made by the ruling classes, however, by the brokers and bankers and CEO’s, well that’s a different story. Then the government is obliged to step in and save the system. Save those who run the system. Save those who game the system, but whose gaming is sanctioned because after all, they are the important ones, the prominent ones, the ones who own the ones who make the laws.

It is to laugh. It is to puke. It is to make one want to blow the house down, and the entire population out of its stupor. The system is rigged, folks. And all the rosy talk about free markets and our capitalist way of life—it’s all designed to keep the rubes running on the treadmill for as long as possible, while the money boys rake in the cash and salt it away in anticipation of what they know (because they’re doing all the stealing) must be the inevitable collapse.

Free market? More like a free-for-all. As long as you’re on the inside with your fingers in the till, that is.

Lawrence DiStasi

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