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Ralph Nader > Special Features > Repudiating the Myths of Market Fundamentalism and the Corporate Coercions it Masks and Enables

Repudiating the Myths of Market Fundamentalism and the Corporate Coercions it Masks and Enables

  1. There can be no free market when companies engage in monopolistic or anti-competitive activity and systems.
  2. There can be no free market when companies lie, cheat and steal, as a way of doing business (eg. the mortgage rackets and pay day loans) and systematically engage in deceptive advertising (eg. Pills That Don’t Work – Sidney Wolfe, MD, Public Citizen Health Research Group).
  3. There can be no free market when companies demand and lobby for subsidies, handouts, giveaways and bailouts(most notoriously the bastion of self-styled free market fundamentalism that is Wall Street). The New York Stock Exchange’s own private regulations are far-reaching but do little to curb Wall Street excesses. The manipulation of cost/benefit formulas is legion and exaggerated costs often go un-rebutted!
  4. There can be no free market when certain companies demand preferential tax avoidance treatment or engage in systematized tax evasion (as in the offshore rackets). Amazon received billions of dollars in benefits because of the unfair competitive avoidance of sales taxes against brick and mortar stores, including small businesses, had to pay six to eight percent sales tax (plus property taxes). Only recently have some online sales been upheld by the Supreme Court. This politically lobbied unfair advantage helped mightily to create the Amazon multi-headed monster. Or shall we use the world “Moloch.”
  5. There can assuredly be no free market when there is no freedom of contract for the consumer or buyer or franchisee. Herein the overpowering phenomenon of contract peonage or contract servitude known as the fine print, standard form contract that is so coercively tyrannical and so really non-consensual that a leading authority on contracts, Professor Margaret Radin called them “Torts” in her seminal book BOILERPLATE. These “mice print contracts, in the words of Senator Elizabeth Warren, block use of the courts (compulsory arbitration), impose “unilateral modification changes by the vendor,” waivers of Constitutional rights such as trial by jury and much more. Companies do not compete over fine print, further eliminating choice. (See the article, “Land of the Lawless,” in the Spring 2018 Lapham’s Quarterly).
  6. There can be no free market when there is systemic corporate crime, fraud and abuse (See Corporate Crime Reporter). With Medicare being drained of some $60 billion in vendor fraud a year, Medicare is not really benefitting from the free market. This is a big area – corporate crime as a way of doing business over time (VW, GM, Toyota recently in their covered up defects, along with the Takata air bag cover-up, are troubling illustrations of lawlessness). So are financial and insurance rackets, forced purchases (Wells Fargo), imposed by leading companies on and off Wall Street. Applied mathematician, professor Malcolm Sparrow at Harvard estimates, at the minimum, computerized billing fraud and abuse in the so-called healthcare industry totals ten percent of all sales on about $335 billion this year (see his book License to Steal). Then there is the massive matter of harmful diseconomies – environmental, occupational and planetary damage to people, species and the natural world.
  7. Deliberate complexity to confuse, wear down and deceive consumers is rampant and getting worse. Too many contrived choices, most of them trivial, lead to a cognitive dissonance by consumers who basically signal “I don’t know, take me, I’m yours.” This is also part of what is known as Chamberlain’s theory of monopolistic competition (as with brand name advertising). Complexity includes hiding the actual price and other terms of the transaction before clicking or signing on the bottom line.
  8. Jurisdictional escapes – such as doing bad things but being outside the arm of the law or jurisdiction–are increasingly becoming common practice for foreign and domestic companies and their subsidiaries (shell companies) that are located in permissive tax havens. This has become another discrediting element of free market fundamentalism.
  9. Free market fundamentalists claim that they observe the laws of the land, that they are not anarchistic, they play by the rules. Market actions powerfully make the rules through government (the campaign money, lobbying, the corporate state, tort deform). Moreover there are large gaps of lawlessness,– meaning there are deliberately no laws or the laws are essentially dead letters. Recall the repeal of usury laws in almost all the states by corporate pressure during the nineteen seventies. Non-stop coercive robo calling circumvents no-call list enforcement and saturates people’s phones.
  10. There are many more corporate-bred distortions and destructions of free market operations. Theoretical free markets themselves can still be damaging and need boundaries (regulation when banks and insurers reject poorer people as a class).

Market fundamentalism’s ideological tyranny keeps on metastasizing, afflicting the young, silencing politicians and hoodwinking the media,  as its propagandists avail themselves of the free public airwaves (talk about non-market pricing?).

Done clearly, concisely with illustrations and some galvanizing narratives as to the critical importance of displacing this fundamentalism as a force, both economically and politically, that perpetuates controlling processes and corporate propaganda, this gathering and the subsequent publications of its proceedings can  plant many seeds for cultivation by realistic minds and provide consequential leverage!

Too many progressives don’t have a handle on the arguments that must be made to counter market fundamentalism. (Consider the presently asserted “too much government regulation” or “deregulation” when it’s really government-sanctioned corporate regulation, or “just too liberal for the congressional District” or “socialistic” uttered by corporate socialists etc.).

Watch the Destroying the Myths of Market Fundamentalism Conference from October 2018 here: https://www.c-span.org/video/?453260-3/center-study-responsive-law-conference-part-1&event=453260&playEvent