The free market advocates I’ve met so far have been intelligent, patient, and extraordinarily civil. I’m not yet fully convinced by their arguments, but that’s not as important as that fact that a Voting Advice System represents their best chance (and perhaps their only chance) to make the changes they want.
Originally published 2005
In The “Free Market” Doesn’t Exist, and Doesn’t Work, I began a dialogue over the relative merits of free market economies. That article received an extremely articulate, carefully-argued comment from Michael Hartl, Ph.D.
I’ll say this: I’m impressed with the intelligence and civility of the free-market advocates I’ve met so far. Michael presented some well-researched arguments showing how a really free market — one that is free of interference from government — would effectively eliminate the health problems and other problems that were the original motivation for the Voting Advice System.
For example, he showed that without government subsidies for soybeans, partially hydrogenated oils wouldn’t be the profit-maker they are now, so food producers would tend to stop using it.
That is an interesting slant that had not occurred to me, and I have to admit that the arguments were impressive — at least on the subject. I’m not sure I agree with them. I rather suspect I don’t, in fact. I think there is a balance that needs to be struck between government regulation and market freedom. But whether I’m right or wrong about that, it misses the main point: Free-market advocates need a Voting Advice System to create a truly free market.
My personal opinion is that more government regulation is needed. But I must stress that it is a personal opinion. The articles I post here are intended to motivate — to show why a Voting Advice System is needed. And the desire for free markets among intelligent thinkers and citizens is one more good reason.
To reiterate, the goal of the Voting Advice System is to get the money out of politics , and make it irrelevant to elections. Such a system lets people determine their own fate, free of corporate interference. Right now, corporate lobbyists and campaign contributions effectively run the country. The laws we’re passing are benefiting corporations most of all — and many of them are hurting citizens and consumers.
In fact, it is critical to observe that the soybean subsidies are a direct result of the influence of corporate money in the political process. Sure, if we had a totally free market, those subsidies would never have been granted. But the fact is that we don’t. (And for the reasons I put forth in The “Free Market” Doesn’t Exist, and Doesn’t Work, it would be harmful to society, even if it did exist.)
In the end, I believe that government legislation is needed to restrain corporate behavior. Free market advocates like Michael Hartl and Russel Nelson believe that government should stay out of the markets. We all believe that giant corporations are using government intervention to dominate their markets. In other words, the one thing we all agree on is that giant transnational corporations who owe allegiance to no one should not be running the country.
Let’s assume for the moment that the free market advocates are right, and that government should stay the heck out of the marketplace. How can they get that policy enacted? As long as corporate money dominates the process, they have very little chance. Corporations will continue rigging the game, because they benefit from doing so. They’re not about to stop because, philosophically, it’s a good idea.
Now let’s imagine 100% voter participation in Voting Advice System. In that scenario, corporate money is totally irrelevant to the process. The only thing that free market advocates have to do is to convince a few hundred people about the validity of their position. If they convince the right people, the recommendations those people make will convince a few thousand more, whose recommendations will, in turn, convince a few hundred thousand more. In the end, millions of people will make their decisions based on the advice of the influential thinkers who have carefully examined the issue and reached the most accurate conclusions they can.
Now, that’s an ideal scenario, of course. The reality will undoubtedly lie somewhere between that ideal and the situation we have now. But we know that the system we have now is dominated by corporate money — which makes it a foregone conclusion that we will not have a truly free market any time soon! A Voting Advice System provides a remedy for that problem. It’s a remedy that free market advocates need.
In the end, it is clear that we need to circumvent the political system we now have, and create a true democracy in cyberspace. We support the Clean Money initiatives that restrict the amount of money that goes into campaigns, because they open up the political process to third party candidates and average citizens. But a Voting Advice System is necessary in any case, so those alternative candidates can create effective coalitions.
Today, decisions are made at the ballot box, and they’re carried out by the electoral college, which is simply a rubber stamp. But the ballot box has been hijacked by corporate money, so it is no longer an effective decision-making vehicle.
When a Voting Advice System is in place, political decisions will be made by the exchange of ideas, and they’ll be carried out at the ballot box. Corporations will have every right to spend their money to persuade others, but the opinions they foster will go only as far as the opinion-holders are trusted. And there will be many more checks and balances on the opinion holders — many more people looking over their shoulder — than there currently are now.
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