Good ol’ Ross Gittins has come out with another great article questioning the prevailing economic orthodoxy: that government should just get out of the way and let businesses do their thing in a “free market”.
There is no question that capitalism has done great things. But those who put free-market economics on a pedestal tend to miss the bigger picture. The market is not inherently good or moral. People are not inherently rational and often do not behave in ways that seek their self-interest. The market value of goods and services produced by an economy (GDP) is at best a tangential measure of progress and arguably not that important if you’re trying to look at the overall well-being of people (which is ultimately what matters in the end, right?).
Using economic rationalism as the primary basis for policymaking leads to undervaluing of the environment, erosion of workers’ rights, rent-seeking by powerful corporations, disregard for things that do not have market value and commercialisation of things that probably should not be dispassionately traded as goods and services. Capitalism is useful, but like any other human endeavour it should be kept within appropriate bounds.
How to put the above more succinctly? Thanks Ross:
… I want to live in a market economy, but not a market society.