Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Freedom to Gouge

I've written before about how clueless most Republicans are when it comes to their supposed love of "free markets," as they don't seem to have any real understanding of what it means beyond "Government Sux," and even oppose many regulations designed to make the markets work better. And so I couldn't believe it when The Atlantic named Carpetbagger (AkA Steve Benen) as the 44th most influential political commenter in the country and wrote this in his bio (emphasis added):
His blog posts—advocating for universal health care, calling out centrist Democrats, decrying the GOP’s dedication to free markets—frequently drive coverage for left-leaning bloggers, who spread his takes across the Web.
The GOP's dedication to free markets?? What a joke! I'm not sure I agree with the "calling out centrist Dems" line, but to suggest that Benen is upset about free markets is to imply both that Benen is a socialist jerk and that Republicans really care about the free markets.  Hint: They don't.

And sure enough, we get yet another example of the GOP's confusion over the free market, via Benen, no less. He writes about how the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA) was likely to pass the House (it passed), which is great because it cuts the moronic middlemen out of the student loan business and instead spends the money to students and schools.

Government Takeover of Middlemen

And the whole issue highlights the GOP's idea of what "free markets" are. They insist that it makes more sense for the government to pay banks to process the paperwork while guaranteeing their loans, rather than just directly making the loans ourselves. And in their eyes, this is capitalism. This is the free market. They might not be able to explain exactly what "market" is at play here, but by god, they're going to protect it.

As Rep. John Kline (R-Minn) said,
First, we saw a drive toward complete government takeover of our nation's health care system.  Now, we see government seizing control of student lending, forcing the private sector out and welcoming in a mountain of public debt.
And mind you, this guy is the highest ranking Republican on the Education and Labor Committee, so he's supposed to know what he's talking about.  But no.  He's actually arguing that removing the middlemen from the student loan industry is an infringement of freedom.  He ended with "I’m almost afraid to ask: What part of our lives will be handed over to government next?"  With any luck, it'll be Kline's maudlin rhetoric.

1 comment:

Scott P said...

I think when conservatives say "free market", they really mean "whatever allows companies to make the most money, irregardless of petty concerns like fairness, compassion, morality or simple human decency". Yeah, I guess "free market" is easier to say.