The Mix

Big Business intervention in the free market of ideas

A simple narrative for today's political economy: distortions keep markets from fuctioning
Centrally planned economies create too much inefficiency to make good wealth-creating engines.

The corporate elite and their media bootlicks have taken that principle and stretched it into a dogma. It's become an absolutist position: government should have no role in the economy save for enforcing a minimal set of laws and correcting the occasional "market distortion" -- the Enrons and what have you. And when the government does make such an intervention, it musn't go too far.

But what about the reverse? What about the private sector's endless interventions in the free market of ideas that we call a democracy? Doesn't it cut both ways?

Milton Friedman, the Godfather of the libertarian right, explained why governments shouldn't butt into the private sector:
The most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit. The big difference between government coercion and private markets is that government can use coercion to make an exchange in which A benefits and B loses. But in the market, if A and B come to a voluntary agreement, it's because both of them are better off.
Joshua Holland is a staff writer at Alternet and a regular contributor to The Gadflyer.