Paul Krugman was right on the mark with his book review of Nicholas Wapshott’s Samuelson Friedman: The Battle Over the Free Market (3 Aug. 2021).
As a historian, not an economist, I take a look at this free market idea through the lens of a historian. Paul Krugman, the economist and his ideas from the perspective of an economist agree with what I have been writing for so long.
As expected, Krugman delves into the ideas for free markets which were pushed by Friedman and opposed by Samuelson. He also identifies Reagan and Greenspan as perpetrators. I so agree with that. I would also ad the queen of “virtues of selfishness,” Ayn Rand, as well. The net result of what Reagan and his goons did in the 1980s has been monopolized business by big corporate giants who resemble Goliath in the Bible and work to destroy capitalist competition, on the notion that this is a prime example of “free markets.” In fact, destruction of competition is annoying as it destroys the ideas of regulated capitalism which is designed to help both supply AND demand. Reagan’s notions of “deregulation” have resulted, besides promoting a “trickle-down” philosophy, is “reregulation” done by the corrupt practices of privatized huge corporate conglomerates. We might think we the people have no voice, but with privatization by the supply-side big fat cats. Business in the hands of the big fat cat supply-siders, similar to plantation-style, manorial, and feudal economics of the Medieval period is more atrocious because it can more easily shut down the voice of the people than can be done with government (especially when there is more predominance of the existence of government controlled by the big fat cats, as a result of a dim-witted U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision with a propaganda-style title of “Citizens United” and its hidden agenda).
Case in point. Privatized forms of government called homeowners’ associations which are given more teeth to do injustice to people by the Republican one-party state in Florida. The HOAs of Florida have come to be known as the “condo commandos.” However, the HOAs have spread more widely than just condos, as yours truly had to pay a HOA fee when he owned a single-family home, not a condo. The HOA played the role of the local nearby government where I also owned a home. They would inspect lawns, as the local government did, and cite us if it was not cut correctly. Both village and HOA did the same thing (there was no HOA in the village). Big, big difference. The annual HOA fees were far higher than those of the village and we had no recourse to go to a village board meeting and express disdain over the regulatory practice of inspecting lawns. Compared to a local village in upstate New York, the HOA fees were three times higher than this village and its taxes. The village shed itself of a police unit, so it became more like a HOA, but at much less the cost of a HOA. Yet, people here complain about the tax of this village. Be careful for what you wish for.
My point being that privatized supply-side businesses are vicious, malicious, and bullying. They are the ruination of local business and local control. Case in point also about the privatized hospitals created by a man who sits in the U.S. Senate: Rick Scott. With an overall consideration, even hospitals still run by religious organizations are far better at dealing with the demand-side – the patients (consumers) – than privatized hospitals and nursing homes. I have plenty more personal experience examples I can share. Certainly, there are plenty of facts and statistics to validate my experiences.
The historical examples are about the “norms” established by the aristocratic wealth and royalty when Adam Smith drew up his ideas of capitalism which were meant to challenge the supply-side economics of feudal economies run by aristocrats. I am able to prove that the aristocrats were one step ahead of Adam Smith. They embraced the “new” idea of capitalism in the late 1700s and early 1800s, as if it was their own baby for which they gave birth. When Marx went to England to generate interest in the common folks of the demand side of the market, he blamed capitalism because the supply-side aristocrats were the ones coining the phrase of capitalism for themselves. America had plantations in the South and the North thought it was better with its “industrial revolution” consisting of crap like sweatshops and so forth. Those sweatshops may have paid workers earnings, it was dismally small and not a living wage, while the big fat cats became just as wealthy as the plantation owners of Dixie. They were better in not putting African slaves in chains, but were they really any better, just because they did NOT enslave people, as they used immigrants in the sweatshops?
In the 20th Century, Gov. Teddy Roosevelt of New York State began to intercede for workers. From child labor laws to many other laws, Gov. T. Roosevelt, worked with people. Gov. T. Roosevelt also became known as the “trust buster” as he busted the organized syndicates with Boss Tweed and other sources which, with their corrupt practices, controlled the supply-side economics as well as government. America became great due to the trust buster, unions, pooled finances in retirement systems which were really designed to be capitalist returns on investments. Same thing with the “health savings account” we call Medicare, where there was an intent to have a return on investment. The original intent for these resources was not to have lousy corrupt representatives propagandize false ideas that such resources were “taxes” and then steal such money for other purposes. They stole from such funds for projects “back home,” in order to keep their constituents happy and then get re-elected in the process. Using propaganda, such corrupt politicians and lawyers destroyed the ideas of long-term capitalist investments into short-term, “I want it now” instant gratification ideas. With the older ones dying off and the younger ones not worried about long-term investments, those corrupt people in a representative democracy convinced people to do the things most beneficial to the wealthy fat cats at the top. Shall I go into actual examples of what I am talking about?
Krugman expressed his ideas in terms of economics and academia. His explanation is very good. But someone needs to address this to those who do not follow the details of economics. Meanwhile stupid people like Mark Levin and others from Fox, rely on not presenting facts, but only emotions. The best seller lists contain books by such people which are false. And yes, I challenge Mr. Levin as a dumb jerk with his emotionalism being the sole means of capturing the hearts and minds of people. I don’t challenge Mr. Krugman, but wish someone could put what he says in the words more conducive to the “lay person.” It would really help cut down on the chaos and contention of pitting American against American. Let us shed the damn emotionalism and traditionalism which pervades the land and get back to rationality and common sense.
Professor Douglas Willet Cornwell (Retired)
Newark Valley, NY
———————————“Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” “The problems of the world are not that some people love in a different way. The problems are that so many people don’t know how to love at all (CGA, 1970).” A Puritan is someone in fear that someone, somewhere, is having a good time. “Liberty and justice for all [not priorities on individual and selfish rights].” “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” “We the people, in order to form a more perfect union [and overall wealth of American society]…”
Benjamin Franklin: “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are affected.” Stacey Abrams: “Compromise about actions, but not about values.” Oscar Wilde: “I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.” Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” Benjamin Franklin: “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Whoopi Goldberg: “To handle this COVID-19 pandemic effectively, we all need to get on the same page.” Note: To be clear, I do not like being patronized. I do not express my disdain over what happens to my fellow humans just for my own sake and to pursue favors and handouts. I do it in order to gain R – E – S – P – E – C – T for me and for millions of other Americans of any race, ethnicity, religious belief, or sex and sexual identity who try to walk in integrity as they attempt to achieve, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. PERIOD. One nation under God [our Creator] with liberty and justice for all.