From Pine View Farm

The “Public Good” 0

Chris Satullo explains how Republicans just don’t get it:

Congressional Republicans have basically just one idea in their head.

It is this: Government should always do less and get smaller. Markets should always do more and gain power.

It’s their one big idea. And it’s wrong, particularly in how they apply it.

They’ve been wrong on all this for a long time. Wrong in Iraq. Wrong for the environment. Wrong for the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast. But that seems only to ratchet up the fervor with which they cling to their notions.

They consistently confuse CAT scans and toaster ovens – in other words, public vs. private goods. And they wrongly equate free markets with the self-interest of the big corporations that bankroll their campaigns and life-styles.

Without question, truly free markets are efficient; they build wealth and foster innovation. When markets function well to promote private goods, pols shouldn’t meddle.

Public goods are different. What is a public good? A good in which society has a vivid stake beyond the benefits that flow to individuals, a good that is vital to the smooth and just functioning of the commonwealth. Such goods can’t be left to the vagaries of markets, which amorally pick winners and losers. A public good, in a sense, is one where everyone needs to be a winner. Public goods include things such as education, clean air and health care.


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