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A free market?

carlson CHRIS


The walking, talking embodiment of the mythical free market in Idaho today is Wayne Hoffman, executive director of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. He called a few weeks ago and asked if we could get together and get acquainted while he was in the north country on other business.

No harm in getting acquainted I thought, though for Wayne, there was some “harm” encountered. It seems the speeding ticket he received was because he was running late for our get together at an Irish Pub on Lake Drive in Coeur d’Alene.

Though we are polar opposite on many things, there are some issues where we have commonality – government over-reaching and the public’s loss of trust in government “honesty” at all levels, for example.

It was a pleasant enough discussion but when he used the phrase “free market” as in “we have to return to a true free market” I took strong exception.

I will tell you what I told Wayne. That fight was fought and lost 80 years ago, and there’s no going back. Franklin Delano Roosevelt defeated Herbert Hoover in 1932. Roosevelt was the architect of government intervention in the so-called free market.

In order to fight the Great Depression and assist truly desperate Americans he campaigned on the federal government as the only entity that could protect the public from the excesses and vagaries of the private sector.

Hoover, a businessman and engineer, was the apostle of the private sector and the free market and he was soundly trounced. Ever since then there has been an inexorable pull of more and more governmental intervention the result of which is a “controlled market” and an international economy that is dominated by multinational corporations.

The fact is today our economy is riddled with subsidies for just about any conceivable interest. The subsidies are so rife and so numerous there is no way a majority of the electorate would ever sign off putting itself at the mercy of the private sector and the winners vs. losers free market.

The biggest mistake Mitt Romney made in the presidential election was miscalculating and then denigrating the 47% of the public he said in effect were takers living off of the in theory 53% producers.

In a sense he had the numbers reversed: 53% of the electorate likes its subsidies, whether it is Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or one’s deduction for their mortgage payments. A majority believes they are better off with their entitlements, and yes, dependency, than believe the GOP philosophy of so-called free market and self-reliance.

So what is your favorite subsidy from the taxpayer, Wayne? Do you take the personal mortgage deduction? Will you turn back your social security check when you reach retirement? Will you enroll in Medicare when you can? Will you accept government help if struck with a catastrophic disease like cancer or Parkinson’s.

I have both PD and a rare form of an always fatal neuro endocrine cancer. My subsidy is a chemotherapy shot of a sandostatin once a month that I call my “golden rear” shot. I receive half in one rear cheek and half in the other. When I walk out of the Cancer Care Northwest office my rear is literally “gold.” That one shot costs $13,000 each month.

I was given six months in November of 2005, but I’m still here managing my diseases courtesy of good insurance, the government’s Medicare program, and lots of prayer from friends and family.

That’s my major subsidy, Wayne. And I know this: left to your mythical free market I would have been dead years ago.

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