Sunday, August 28, 2011

InterDependence vs Independence

I grew up in a white, Anglo-Saxon, strongly protestant home with a strong Republican bias against Democrats (who were urban union-mafia mobsters). My socio-political and personal faith journey has come a long ways, much to the dismay of some. To some, it may appear I have simply moved from the extreme rightfield bleachers to the far leftfield bleachers.

I see my journey as escaping from Redneck Haven, exploring Libertyville in leftfield, but settling into deep centerfield, more deeply entrenched than ever in the centrist views of an a-political Jesus, who is at the core of my evangelical Wesleyan-holiness faith.

Having said that, I’ve just been reading a biographical sketch of Milton Friedman, as I explore the world of greed. I quote:

“Above all, Friedman argued, no one will take advantage of others (emphasis mine). “So long as the freedom of exchange is maintained… Thus, Friedman summarized his moral philosophy. If individuals are given the choice, free of government rules and regulations,
of where to work,
where to invest their retirement funds,
where to send their children to school,
where to buy their health care,
and where to rent or buy their homes,
competition to supply the best goods or services will result in a greater number of cheaper and higher-quality options. In this way, Americans will have more high-paying jobs,
a more secure retirement,
schools of surpassing quality,
a possibly cheaper but surely more efficient health care system,
and more affordable housing.

"He argued further that with reduced government and lower taxes,
the poor would be better off,
inequality would be minimized,
and discrimination eliminated;
coercion would be minimized
and material prosperity maximized.
It was nearly a utopian or religious promise, and that was its broad appeal, a moral call for the protection of personal freedom. Economic freedom is also the way to achieve political freedom, according to Friedman“ (Madrick/Age of Greed/Knopf/NY/2011/41).

This is the gist of “free market economy” in a paragraph, propagated by all Republicans, Tea Partiers, and that grand multitude that believe that individual liberty without intervention is the ultimate of American freedom.It not only defines "free market" economy but it defines anarchy and/or libertarianism.

Because Friedman’s bias said, “The fact is that the Great Depression, like most other periods of severe unemployment, was produced by government management rather than by inherent instability of the private economy,” he blamed the depression on the Government--pre-FDR! This is no different from those who today blame the current depression on Obamamania and his stimulus spending, rather than facing the truth of George Bush spending us deeply into debt via the Iraq War and putting it on our Chinese credit card.

Whether or not I learned anything else, I learned a fierce sense of telling the truth as a child. I can tell you it is not comfortable to be taken back and forced to tell the truth to someone you misled. I learned better as a child and Mr. Friedman and company should be made to tell the truth, that a “free market” will not automatically adjust itself, and rather than people in that “free market” treating everyone else by the Golden Rule, people will lie, cheat, steal, and defraud you, just because they think they can get away with it. The Bible calls it sin, but that word is not in vogue these days.

Nonetheless, Friedman’s “moral philosophy” was MORALLY FLAWED from its inception. HE WAS WRONG, as are all extremists of this far right political persuasion. I know little about economics and the philosophy of financial management, but I know that when people anchor themselves to Capitalism and Freedom (authored by Friedman), I know they are working with a flawed system.

I know that such a free market system evolves until it becomes a cannibalizing process of economic survival of the fittest (ask any MBA graduate how that works). Walter Wriston built First National City Bank into the largest in America via the free market. He grew the company large enough that it was too big to be allowed to fail. On the several occasions it did nearly fail, it was the government that bailed him out because it would be detrimental to the economy (cf Madrick, pp 10-25 for Wriston story of regulatory revolt).

All democratic nations face that tension of individuality versus government. Democracy can survive only with a good balance. Without regulators (referees and officials) any game will become unequal, unfair, dirty, and compromised; the players need objective assistance. An overly-regulated game will be no better. What I do know is this: to attend Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY and watch the Wildcats play, properly assisted by a well refereed game, may look like far too much governmental regulation, but it produces a satisfying game for the customer (especially if KY wins), and it produces a huge economic windfall for the Bluegrass--players, coaches, scouts, officials, fans, university, business community, et al.

I may not understand economics adequately, but I know athletics well enough that if “free marketers” were correct, two basketball teams could play without officials, BUT it takes those regulators (NOT JUST 1 referee but SEVERAL OFFICIALS, TIME KEEPERS, SCOREKEEPERS, AD INFINITUM) to keep everything fair and above board from the 7 foot center to the 5’ 6” guard.

From Warner’s World, I still believe in interdependence more than independence; this is

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