Q&A on "The Illusion of Free Markets" with Bernard Harcourt discussion

Start Date: March 1, 2011

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message 1: by Bernard E. (last edited Mar 01, 2011 07:06AM) (new)

Bernard E. Harcourt | 16 comments Mod
We'll start the discussion on March 1, 2011, and we'll try to keep at the heart of our discussion the central question: How does the belief in the free market relate to our punishment practices today?

message 2: by Rumbustious (new)

Rumbustious | 4 comments My purely unscientific take on it is that the free marketers, usually Republicans, who bring with them their accompanying attitudes about crime, white collar variety excepted. And most of that attitude, I believe, is race based. Republicans, you may know, don't care much for blacks, latinos, or other troublesome ethnicities. Very few people of color are concerned with discussions about free markets, though its practice affects them adversely far more than others. Free markets should properly be termed freebooting, as in piracy. So, to go to your question, belief in free markets means that one is entitled to whatever one can grab and not get caught. A free market for labor means that a human being's labor is a mere commodity, and his wage is whatever someone is willing to do a job for, never mind if is not a living wage. Since free marketeers are largely oligarchs, or wannabes, they make the laws and control their enforcement. Those who are punished are the victims of those laws, meant to preserve the status quo, "wealthy men, content in their homes," to paraphrase Churchill--that is what is necessary for a stable society, according to him. I disagree. A free market allows and rewards abuse of labor. This is bound to lead to large disparities in social condition and wealth, which, I think it pretty obvious, fosters property crime, breeds violence, and promotes drug use, which are then punished, though with little hope of rehabilitation and successful return to society at large. Free markets economies are a modern term for that Hobbesian life that is nasty, brutish, and short.
My view is taken from the Dutch, who regard prison cells as a precious and expensive commodity, to be reserved for those who really need it. Non dangerous offenders are usually not given long sentences. Arguably, one could say they had a free market economy, but I think it closer to socialist state, because of its generous social safety net that improves life for all its citizens.

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