"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Monday, March 22, 2010

"Free Markets" and "Republican Values"

A couple of bloggers have referenced this piece by David Frum, mostly referring to the opening paragraphs and his analysis of the Republican Waterloo represented by the health-care reform package just passed by Congress. Most of the references have praised Frum for his rationality (yeah, well, they're liberal bloggers -- they love when the right points fingers at each other), and I think Frum has the right take on who is in control of the right and therefore responsible for the disaster (and I don't think it's hard to figure out that the Limbaugh-Beck Axis constitutes a disaster), but one thing stuck out at me, near the end:

So today’s defeat for free-market economics and Republican values is a huge win for the conservative entertainment industry. Their listeners and viewers will now be even more enraged, even more frustrated, even more disappointed in everybody except the responsibility-free talkers on television and radio. For them, it’s mission accomplished. For the cause they purport to represent, it’s Waterloo all right: ours.

I like the part about "defeat for free-market economics." We're talking here about a "free market" that enjoys exemption from anti-trust regulation, and in fact is almost completely unregulated, and has proven itself to be almost completely dysfunctional for everyone except those who are raking in huge profits -- the insurance companies and drug manufacturers. There is no "free market" operating here -- there is a corporate oligarchy that is making a lot of money charging for services it then refuses to provide. There's no competition, and the "marketplace" is rigged.

And what does that tell you about "Republican values?" Except that they're a large part of the problem. I'm not talking about the wild-eyed, "keep your government hands off my Medicare" contingent. I'm talking about the very sober, responsible leaders who just don't get the idea that their job is to serve all of us, not just those who are paying for their re-election campaigns.

Paul Krugman gets it:

And let’s be clear: the campaign of fear hasn’t been carried out by a radical fringe, unconnected to the Republican establishment. On the contrary, that establishment has been involved and approving all the way. Politicians like Sarah Palin — who was, let us remember, the G.O.P.’s vice-presidential candidate — eagerly spread the death panel lie, and supposedly reasonable, moderate politicians like Senator Chuck Grassley refused to say that it was untrue. On the eve of the big vote, Republican members of Congress warned that “freedom dies a little bit today” and accused Democrats of “totalitarian tactics,” which I believe means the process known as “voting.”

That last line, I think, encapsulates "Republican values": votes by our elected representatives are "totalitarian." Just think about that.

And under the heading "Doesn't Get It," check out this little fantasy by Megan McArdle, who easily maintains her position as quite possibly the most clueless pundit ever -- given that Bill Kristol is emeritus, at this point.

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