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FREE MARKET: "Privatization and deregulation are seen as virtues that lead to 'less govern

September 20, 2008

Discussion: In the U.S., we love the word "free" and all its permutations, from big ideas like freedom to small redundant ideas like "free gift." "Free market" sounds like something we would like, but it's deceptive.

"It has major moral implications," says George Lakoff (/Thinking Points/). "Privatization and deregulation are seen as virtues that lead to 'less government.' That is a fallacy. They lead to less /responsible/ government. ... HMOs and drug companies, for instance, are deciding what type of medical care people will have and how much it will cost." (The [2003] prescription drug bill /prevents/ Medicare from even negotiating volume discounts with drug companies.) …

"More fundamentally," says Lakoff, "the free market is a myth." He cites the bailout of the airlines after 9/11 to the tune of $15 billion. Now it’s apparently the banking and mortgage industry’s turn. “But when government intervenes on behalf of working people, consumers, or the environment, conservatives scream foul and invoke the 'free-market' frame, because these interventions don't mesh with their political philosophy. ... A 'free market' means business can strip the commons of its wealth, making the rest of us pay for its profits."

For more information on the forthcoming Unspinning the Spin: The Women’s Media Center Guide to Accurate, Bias?-Language, click here.