maxbarry.com
Fri 24
Apr
2020

A Free Market Pandemic Response

What Max Reckons

Do you think the world is moving more or less towards capitalizm? I only ask because I was idly looking at the Jennifer Government world map and realised the UK left the European Union, which was quite premonitory.

Adam

You know what I think was premonitory, if that’s even a real word, Adam: this blog where I predicted the rise of social media influencers. I mean, my corporate stuff, that’s shooting fish in a barrel. You don’t have to stare at the world for long before you notice people vaccuming up wealth and power while hiding behind logos and heartfelt TV commercials. Then you go ahead and write a novel where everything is like that only moreso, and bam, you’re a modern-day Cassandra.

But the influencer blog! In 2007, I predicted that people would be able to have great careers just being kind of awesome, even in a small way. This was three years and two months before Instagram even existed. I’m proud of that because I feel like I didn’t extrapolate current trends so much as pick it before it happened.

Anyway, to answer your question: I do think we are moving toward more extreme capitalizm. Especially lately! I’ve long thought I got a crucial piece of Jennifer Government wrong, because government of all kinds have never seemed very interested in shrinking themselves. Even when the small-government people get in power, they don’t shrink anything. They only move money from one place to another while continuing to expand overall. So how would we wind up with a tiny government? It seemed more likely that governments and corporations would become increasingly similar until no-one could tell them apart. Lots of shady public-private partnerships, run by people who hop back and forth between the two; that kind of thing.

But look at this! We have a health emergency and the US federal government’s move is to shovel essential resources into the free market and let state governments bid for them. That’s really something. I mean, obviously the free market is a wonderful thing, the bedrock of our modern society, and so on. But it doesn’t work for everything. You get Jennifer Government when you believe the market is always best, no matter what, and even basic education, even healthcare, even fighting fires, is best left in the hands of an unregulated private sector. Which is a creepy ideology to me because it deliberately ignores the concept of market failure: that when it comes to essential goods and services, it can be pretty horrendous to let poor people go without.

So yes! Today, I see more capitalizm than ever. And the world’s most visible examplar of government is so bad at its job—deliberately? By accident? Maybe both!—that I can actually see a pathway where people get so jacked at we-starved-the-beast government incompetence that they give up and look for something better. Or not, you know, better, but shinier, with a better logo.

Comments

This is where site members post comments. If you're not a member, you can join here. There are all kinds of benefits, including moral superiority!

towr (#1914)

Location: Netherlands
Posted: 110 days ago

I heard that in ancient Rome they had a privatized fire brigade. <i>And now they're all dead.</i>

It's a funny story really. They didn't have a public fire brigade, so a roman names Crassus got the brilliant idea to set one up, and then if fire broke out they would rush out.. and not do anything. Now, you might think, this is just going to be simple extortion, they won't do anything until the owner pays them. But it gets better, they actually won't do anything until the owner agrees to sell his property. And since it won't be worth anything if it burns down, selling is better than not. And once the fire is extinguished, the not-totally-burned-down property is worth a lot more than he paid for, so it's win-win.
Now that's capitaliZm with a capital Z.

Machine Man subscriber Stygian Emperor (#2947)

Location: the Stygian Empire
Quote: "Flesh is a design flaw."
Posted: 107 days ago

I haven’t finished reading a book in years. I think something is wrong with me. I’ll probably buy Providence and not end up reading it (not a commentary on your writing - Syrup is still my favorite ever novel and Machine Man made me feel a little less like a freak) because I still want to support you.

Ugh I’ll never be a novelist at this rate.

towr (#1914)

Location: Netherlands
Posted: 107 days ago

@Stygian Emperor
If you really want to finish reading a book, there are some really short ones you could try.
For example "Hint Fiction" (which also contains a story by Max), consists of 125 stories with 25 words or less. Which is really good value if you look at it as stories per dollar, but very bad value if you look at it as words per dollar.

To post a comment, login or sign up!