Saturday, January 29, 2005

Markets as moral entitites?

Crooked Timber: Just deserts and the market

Crooked Timber notes a persistent theme among their commentators: "...if markets are working correctly, people end up more or less where they deserve to be...". The author digresses into an academic refutation that apparently involves Hayek (generally a sign that it is to heavy a discussion for my aged brain).

Analysis aside, this is a persistent theme in right wing discourse. It seems to have two separate roots that converge on a single conclusion.

Root One: The Deists
  • God rewards the good and punishes the bad.
  • Poverty is a sign of God's punishment, hence of badness.
  • Wealth is a sign of God's reward, hence goodness.
As Mike P. reminded me, this is the thesis of the pre-Job Bible. It's characteristic of many religions and it's the natural regression point for many fundamentalists.
Root Two: The Libertarians
  • Markets are God-like.
  • Markets are Good.
  • Poverty is a sign of Market punishment, hence of badness.
  • Wealth is a sign of Market reward, hence goodness.
We need to expose the roots of this reasoning wherever it manifests itself.

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