Free trade, the political-economic theory of the so-called Neocons, was completely discredited last week when America’s financial markets collapsed.
So, I guess it is time to bury the late Milton Friedman, who died in 2006.
Friedman was a prominent economist of the late 20th century who championed the idea of free trade.
Neocons, which stands for neoconservatives, learned about free trade from Friedman and than tried to make free trade and capitalism synonymous terms. They view free trade almost as a religion, with Friedman being its deity.
To be fair, free trade as a concept was originally introduced by Adam Smith, generally thought of as the father of modern economics.
Smith lived during the 16th century in Scotland. His The Wealth of Nations, is considered the first modern work of economics.
Smith is remembered for his explanation of how rational self-interest and competition, operating in a social framework depending on adherence to moral obligations, can lead to economic prosperity and well-being.
Friedman expounded on free trade as the panacea for the entire world, which is a bit of a stretch for thinking people to accept.
Neocon disciples of Friedman really distorted the idea of free-trade. The only moral obligation they to have is to greed.
Let me burst the bubble of those who think free trade is a laudable pursuit.
There is no such thing as free trade. Someone always has his or her thumb on the scales to create an unfair advantage––it’s called cheating.
Republicans (and not just a few Democrats) picked up the free-trade mantra during the in the 1980s.
The concept rumbled on during the 1990s with such things as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
George “dubya” Bush (the lightweight) and the sinister Dick Cheney brought free trade to a whole new dimension. They called it “the ownership society.” Others simply called it what it was: letting corporate America take ownership of the U. S. government.
Last week, free-trade practices drove the American economy over a cliff. Two of the largest investment banks went under––Lehman Brothers and Merrill-Linch––joining Bear Stearns, which went under earlier this year, as victims of free trade.
That was followed by the $85 billion bailout of AIG, the insurance giant.
I mentioned that there is no such thing as free trade. Instead, what we have had in the past 28 years is managed fraud against taxpayers.
To the Neocons free trade means privatizing profits and socializing risks (and losses) in an environment completely devoid of regulation.
That is, all profits accumulated in a given period of time belong to the corporate C.E.O.s and shareholders, and all risks are transferred to the taxpayers.
Even if the companies go under––for example, requiring a bailout––the C.E.O.s walk away with multi-million-dollar golden parachutes. Some are even hired back at a higher salary to manage the closing of the business.
There are all types of practices under the rubric of free trade, including privatization of government functions along with military functions.
A hundred years ago free trade wasn’t in the lexicon much. Then the popular term was laissez faire capitalism.
Promoters of laissez faire capitalism were prominent during the first 30 years of the 20th century. When they gained control of the government in the 1920s they ran the country over a cliff and the nation suffered the Great Depression.
In the last 20 years of the 20th century and the first eight years of the 21st century, the free-trade crowd gained control of the levers of power and proceed to drive the nation over a cliff. Does this refrain sound familiar?
Laissez faire economics didn’t work a hundred years ago and free trade economics don’t work now.
In fact, there has never been a time in the history of the world where a free trade experiment has worked.
Therefore, it’s now time to bury the guru of free trade, Milton Friedman. (There is no need to bury Adam Smith, the Neocons buried him when they substituted greed for “adherence to moral obligations.”)
Free trade will be tough to eradicate because Neocons are so entrenched in the fabric of both the corporate boardrooms and the halls government.
However, to “preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States of America,” as the oaths of office require of every public official and military officer and enlisted man, we must proceed with Neocon eradication.
However, advocates of laissez fair, free trade or some other buzzword name will be back sometime in the future. This is fair warning.
© Copyright 2008 by P. A. Triot, which is a pen name for a retired journalist. Reproduce and distribute at will, with proper attribution.