Tuesday, June 01, 2010

ECONOMY - The Faulty Free-Market



Automobile Safety: The auto industry fought for decades to prevent mandatory seat-belts, air-bags and other critical safety features. Why? Because adding such life-saving devices cut into profits.

Auto Mechanics: It's almost a certainty: the final bill will exceed the original estimate. Even worse: mechanics who make unnecessary repairs.

The Battle of the Taxi-Cabs: You want the lowest fare possible, but your cabbie wants the highest. As a result, the shortest distance between two points is often a crooked line.

The Cable Industry: After deregulation in 1984, cable prices soared, quality of programming plummeted, and service providers began selling their channels in indivisible blocs to prevent subscribers from voting with their dollars. From 1986 to 1990, the cost of basic service rose 56 percent -- twice the rate of inflation.

The Corporate Special Interest System: So who's bribing our Congress? In 1992, corporations formed 67 percent of all PACs, and they donated 79 percent of all contributions to political parties. This poses a dilemma to believers in the invisible hand: how do you condemn today's government without condemning the free market that controls it? A better alternative: democracy.

Corporate Welfare: Private enterprise is quite adept at feeding at the public trough, despite its professed antagonism for government. One of the most famous examples is the Wool and Mohair Lobby, which receives $100 million a year for a product the Pentagon no longer needs. Estimates of corporate welfare run from $85 billion to $800 billion a year.

The Cuyahoga River: This Ohio river was so polluted by industrial waste that it caught fire three times. Government stepped in and ordered a $1.5 billion cleanup. Today, the river is clean.

The Drug Industry: According to Dr. George Silver, a professor at the Yale University School of Medicine, about 22 percent of the 6 billion doses of antibiotic medicine each year are overprescribed, resulting in 2,000 to 10,000 unnecessary deaths annually.

The Exploding Ford Pinto: Ford knew for years that it would cost only $11 per Pinto to correct defective gas tanks that exploded upon impact. The company decided it was cheaper to let its customers burn and pay out damages to victims or their families instead.

The Exxon-Valdez Oil Spill: The oil industry has long fought to defeat laws requiring double-hulled oil tankers. And what few oil-spill cleanup measures existed at Prince William Sound were ones that legislators had mandated. These measures failed miserably when the single-hulled Exxon Valdez ran aground and spilled 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska's most scenic waters.

Now add the BP Oil spill.

I do think our Free Market is still the best around, BUT that is NOT to say that it fault-free.

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