Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Political Refresher Course Brought To You By Hurricane Sandy

The market system works fine in most cases. It gets the baker to bake our bread and the gadget maker make ever newer and smarter gadgets, but the market is guided by prices and the pricing mechanism doesn't work very well when decisions are interdependent and there is plenty of insecurity. At the core, it is a matter of people and groups of people (companies, organizations) agreeing on a price, which is relatively easy for shoes, and eggs and ipods, but very hard for disaster relief and enviromental protection. The obvious solution is to leave such decisions to non-market systems, usually local or national governments.

Market-fundamentalists like Romney and Ryan have a skewed view of what markets and governments can and should do. New York Times nailed it in today's editorial:

A Big Storm Requires Big Government

Disaster coordination is one of the most vital functions of “big government,” which is why Mitt Romney wants to eliminate it. At a Republican primary debate last year, Mr. Romney was asked whether emergency management was a function that should be returned to the states. He not only agreed, he went further.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.” Mr. Romney not only believes that states acting independently can handle the response to a vast East Coast storm better than Washington, but that profit-making companies can do an even better job. He said it was “immoral” for the federal government to do all these things if it means increasing the debt.
It’s an absurd notion, but it’s fully in line with decades of Republican resistance to federal emergency planning."

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