Free market principles, supported by neo-conservatism or neo-liberalism and perpetuated by a “corporatists’ crusade,” are aligned with the policies of the “Chicago School” ideologues, the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund. These doctrines perpetrate a blitzkrieg deconstruction of the middle class, privatization of public ownership and industry (downsizing and parceling out public companies and services to private interests), government deregulation and cuts to spending (thus, stimulating deep economic recessions) and cutbacks or the elimination of the public sphere and all social funding – hence, turning the working class into the “disposable poor” – to loosen control of the flow of money and to produce “freer trade” in the global market marked by an intransigent belief that “it should be left to correct itself.” Global free market theory has surfed “the waves of fear and disorientation” while advancing an ideology of “unfettered capitalism,” leaving inequality and degradation in its wake (Naomi Klein, award-winning journalist, fellow at the London School of Economics, author and filmmaker).
The free market theory caters to self-interested desires and profit to the detriment of other peoples’ lives, all the while promising “freedom and prosperity.” Free market principles advocate that the rich and poor should be taxed at the same flat rate, despite creating a vast inequity; that, for example, education, health care, retirement pensions, national parks (and most any function intrinsic to essential governing) become privatized; that publicly-owned companies, services and their assets be auctioned off to private investors; that universities and colleges be bought with exorbitant donations in exchange for indoctrination of right-wing ideologies; and that besides allocating vast amounts of wealth and resources from public to private ownership, in the free market the transfer of private debts to the public sector while public ownership is systematically dismantled ironically continue.
The free market economic theory was developed by Milton Friedman in the 1950s at the University of Chicago. It has come to underlie the basis for the exploitation of ecological, economic, political, and/or social catastrophes, documented in such places as Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Southern Cone, Poland, Falkland Islands, Bolivia, China, South Africa, Russia, Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, former Yugoslavia, “New Orleans,” Canada, Iraq, Sri Lanka… (Klein) – all attempted transformations through invasion, occupation, and deconstruction, in other words, the ransacking of a country’s natural resources, its culture and industries, and thus forcing austerity on masses of people, while further dispossessing the poor. (Resultant violence, theft, and torture are often “thriving industries” in the world of global free market philosophy).
Whether inadvertently or not, Friedman’s theory results in a concentration of wealth and the creation of a plutocracy through unregulated corporate profits at the expense of eradicating the middle and lower classes’ rights to earn a decent income, public pension and the opportunity to acquire any semblance of dignity or satisfaction of basic human needs. This is also referred to as the “busting of unions, the slashing of payrolls and the shredding of employee benefits, without any attempt by government to constrain or reverse these practices…” (Robert Reich, Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and former secretary of labor in the Clinton administration).
The method employed by “corporatist crusaders” includes unilaterally imposing the free market ideology and its creed that freedom without government regulation (or unlimited, avaricious profit for a few people) will create the greatest benefits for everyone. Historically, it has been exercised with such corruptive force that it generates “economic genocide” (Klein). Often times, this is accomplished by manufacturing a “pseudo crisis” to be later used as leverage for such opportunism. This “crisis” is then transmitted vigorously through the media and funded by big banks and corporations. Moreover, the method has also been known to employ the “divide and conquer” strategy (to break unions) and hyperinflation to forward the free market crusade.
It is said that the free market economy is built upon “planned misery” for the masses, where the majority of the population is excluded from reaping any benefits despite promises for “freedom” and “shared wealth.” The notorious effects of global free market principles at work are the elimination of subsidies, layoffs or the loss of millions of jobs, especially in the public sector, and decreased or frozen wages while the corporate elite continue to procure exorbitant financial gains through the demolition of the public sector, the consistent outsourcing of jobs and inundation of cheap imports, tax loopholes, untaxed off-shore bank accounts (a “theft ex post facto”) and from laws, that David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Syracuse University law and business schools’ lecturer, says “continue to enrich the wealthy few at the expense of the many through auctions that are called markets but act instead like bid-rigging systems approved by government.”
We have witnessed legislators who pass corporate-sponsored reform bills that support privatization and deregulation (the destruction of unions, public jobs and pensions) in order to garner money for their re-election bids. We should ask: might there be a conflict of interest when it comes to some policy changes for politicians who have moved from the corporate world into public office and whose motive for service is market-based profit and/or self-interest?
The results of wealth being transferred to “disaster capitalists” while hundreds of thousands of people are subject to human rights’ abuses, mass poverty, repression, and other forms of political, economic, psychological and physical terrorism – “policies of dispossession” – are fully substantiated and documented. As many of us are aware, free market strategies have capitalized on national emergencies to meet objectives by initiating a “manufactured” debt crisis or through price and currency “shocks” crafted by a volatile and deregulated economy.
The global free market economy has proliferated unchecked corruption manifested in lucrative private contracts, tax cuts, and redistribution of public wealth to existing (or now defunct) profit-driven billionaires, corporations and banks such as the Koch Brothers, Halliburton, Blackwater, Lockheed Martin, FEMA, Fluor, Shaw, Bechtel, CH2M Hill, New Bridge Strategies, Ash Britt, Service Corporation International, Entergy, CACI, Booz Allen Hamilton, Koch Industries, Searle Pharmaceuticals, Monsanto, Wal-Mart, Intel, Caterpillar, Microsoft, IBM, Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP, Chevron, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Merrill Lynch, Washington Mutual, Arthur Andersen, AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Enron, WorldCom, Adelphia, Global Crossing, Tyco, Sunbeam, ImClone, to name just a few. The list is endless.
Behind the entire “corporatist crusade” are also “think tanks” such as the Illinois Policy Institute, Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, Americans for Prosperity, American Enterprise Institute, Hoover Institution, Carlyle Group, Milken Institute, Mercatus Center, Heartland Institute, Reason Foundation, et al.
Johnston, David Cay. Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill). New York: Penguin Books, 2007.
Klein, Naomi. The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism. New York: Picador, 2007.
Reich, Robert B. Aftershock: the Next Economy & America’s Future. New York: Vintage Books, 2010.