A recent NYT article posed the question "The Free Market: A False Idol After All?" No doubt, progressives and anti-market types joined in one Pavlovian chorus in response. Folks like Fitzsimon and Schofield over at NC Policy Watch like to delude themselves and their readers into believing that we have been living in some sort of pure laissez-faire-lovers paradise ruled by "market fundamentalism" here in the US. "If only government would interfere just a little bit and correct some of the inherent injustices of the capitalist system, we would all be better off" they often lament.
Jeffrey Tucker has a great response to such nonsense. First, this notion that our economy is largely unhampered, and therefore any "failures" in the economy can be blamed on an unfettered free market is simply fantasy.
"We live in the 100th year of a heavily regulated economy; and even 50 years before that, the government was strongly involved in regulating trade.
The planning apparatus established for World War I set wages and prices, monopolized monetary policy in the Federal Reserve, presumed first ownership over all earnings through the income tax, presumed to know how vertically and horizontally integrated businesses ought to be, and prohibited the creation of intergenerational dynasties through the death tax.
Just how draconian the intervention is ebbs and flows from decade to decade, but the reality of the long-term trend is undeniable: more taxes, more regulation, more bureaucracies, more regimentation, more public ownership, and ever less autonomy for private decision-making."
Tucker then attacks what can be narrowed down to either ignorance or outright deceit on the part of journalists and pundits:
"How is it that journalists can continually get away with asserting that the fantasy is true? How can informed writers continue to fob off on us the idea that we live in a laissez-faire world that can only be improved by just a bit of public tinkering?"
Of course, bureaucrats will always long for more intervention because it provides them with more power, and elites will go along with it because they refuse to acknowledge anything less then their omniscient ability to plan and direct society, nevermind their complete denial of the superiority of spontaneous order and localized knowledge. Naturally, most interventionists think that their recommended dose of meddling is just the right amount to "correct" the perceived negative externalities of the market system. To those folks, I say this: Take one look at the massive tax and regulation codes (both US and NC) and try to convince that we need "just a little more intervention" to make everything perfect.