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One of the most deceptive ideas continuously sounded by the Right (and its fathomless think tanks and media outlets) is that the “free market” is natural and inevitable, existing outside and beyond government. So whatever inequality or insecurity it generates is beyond our control. And whatever ways we might seek to reduce inequality or insecurity — to make the economy work for us — are unwarranted constraints on the market’s freedom, and will inevitably go wrong.
By this view, if some people aren’t paid enough to live on, the market has determined they aren’t worth enough. If others rake in billions, they must be worth it. If millions of Americans remain unemployed or their paychecks are shrinking or they work two or three part-time jobs with no idea what they’ll earn next month or next week, that’s too bad; it’s just the outcome of the market.
According to this logic, government shouldn’t intrude through minimum wages, high taxes on top earners, public spending to get people back to work, regulations on business, or anything else, because the “free market” knows best.
In reality, the “free market” is a bunch of rules about (1) what can be owned and traded (the genome? slaves? nuclear materials? babies? votes?); (2) on what terms (equal access to the internet? the right to organize unions? corporate monopolies? the length of patent protections? ); (3) under what conditions (poisonous drugs? unsafe foods? deceptive Ponzi schemes? uninsured derivatives? dangerous workplaces?) (4) what’s private and what’s public (police? roads? clean air and clean water? healthcare? good schools? parks and playgrounds?); (5) how to pay for what (taxes, user fees, individual pricing?). And so on.
These rules don’t exist in nature; they are human creations. Governments don’t “intrude” on free markets; governments organize and maintain them. Markets aren’t “free” of rules; the rules define them. [...]
For months, I've been putting together the pieces of a book on what the world will be like in 2040. I've been weighing the effects of climate change, contemplating Appalachians stripped of their forests and exposed as layers of limestone and shale, marble and schist, interrupted by scars of mining and the weedy beds of dry rivers. Crumbling mountains that rise above a dusty southeast, where the drought-baked topsoil blows past the wave washed ruins of coastal vacation homes to fall far out at sea.
And I've been thinking of ice. Ice on land and ice on water. Ice that slips, slides, fractures and melts. Ice that vanishes, carrying away ecosystems and changing the map of the world.
It turns out, that in trying to base my writing off the best predictions, I've been badly off base. Because when it comes to the top of the world, 2040 isn't waiting. It's here now.
Sometimes, not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.. — @deenasjoint
On today's Kagro in the Morning show, news from the Navy Yard, which will no doubt be redefined as a "gun free zone" by the end of the day. More college campus #GunFAIL. Fox News claims of 950+ "dead voters" in SC turn out to be... 0. States that got the most disaster aid sent Congress the most climate science deniers. Update on the Lodi, CA SWAT team #GunFAIL. AR-15 carriers detained on their way to WI Farmers' Market. Taxpayers cover up to 80% of hospital gun violence costs. "Rise of 401(k)s Hurt More Americans than It Helped." C|Net: "NSA disguised itself as Google to spy" A weekend kerfuffle wherein we find out Jake Tapper hates me!