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A Marketplace to Loathe


Imagine my surprise yesterday when I flicked on a kitchen radio with the hope of catching some Mozart to accompany my doing the dishes, only to hear a fey British voice saying the following:

I have one plea. Could you please do what is necessary to restore our faith in the corporations of business, a faith that has been so damaged in recent years? The tall towers that house our corporations are the new palaces of our day, the places where real power resides, but those towers are full of paradoxes. Made of glass, you can't see inside. They're pillars of our democracy, but they are run as totalitarian states. Their names are reduced to a set of initials. Their leaders are unknown to those outside. They are accountable, for the most part, to other institutions that sit in similarly anonymous towers. To the average person, they are foreign entities shrouded in mystery. It is no wonder that we look at them with suspicion, touched with envy.

And it goes on like that.  (Read he whole thing here.)  Wow, I thought.  Who is this guy, and how did he get into my radio? Then it hit me.  My radio wasn't broken.  Nor was it possessed.  It was simply tuned in to the Birmingham public radio station that broadcasts that Marxist business show, Marketplace, a font of state-supported, anti-market propaganda, like the kind that would compare the private sector based on voluntary interaction to a totalitarian state.

Thanks to its commie-of-the-day's message, I was reminded of Joe Sobran's point that even the largest corporation has no power over the individual unless the individual grants it, so that the consumer can thumb his nose at General Motors and GM can do nothing but try harder to please him in the future if it wants his business.  But woe be to the citizen who tries to do the same to a government entity--he will eventually be hauled into court to answer for lack of tribute. (My point is empirical.  Any fey British radio commentators reading this who disagree should try it and see what happens.)

To be sure, such socialist soliloquies would be less objectionable if they didn't depend on conscripted capital to get broadcast.  In that case, Marketplace would have to survive in an actual marketplace, and its economic biases would more likely reflect some evolution in economic thought beyond what was faddish in the 19th century.

Any state-funded media is inconsistent with a free society.  And Marketplace proves it every day.

Christopher Westley a professor of economics in the Lutgert College Business at Florida Gulf Coast University and an associated scholar at the Mises Institute.

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