Despite the devastation of the economy by the financial folks, there are still people who are crying out against regulation of the economy. In many cases these people are just spewing words placed into their minds by pundits. They speak about the free market, the invisible hand, and market forces as if these are benevolent deities that will make all things right. Naturally, they regard any attempts to limit these divine forces as socialism, communism, and oppression.
Interestingly enough, many of the same folks who cry for a free market are also a bit obsessed with severely limiting personal privacy and personal liberty. These folks cry out against same sex marriage and cry for the Patriot Act and its ilk. They do not even seem to realize that they are crying for a free society for the money people and a restricted society for all the rest of us.
My own view is a fairly moderate one. While I am not a Hobbesian, I do agree that some people do need to be compelled to behave by the use of force. I also agree with Mill that it is better to have more liberty than less but also that freedom does, ironically, require restrictions on people’s liberty. Put in a nutshell, I think we should restrict people to the degree required to prevent folks from harming each other but that we should not go beyond this. I am, of course, just stealing Mill’s view.
Unlike some folks, I think that this also applies to the market. While some folks cry for a free market, they do not cry for a lawless society. Interestingly, these folks see the need for laws restricting behavior such as theft and murder. They also see the need for laws protecting property and rights. They rightfully regard a lawless society as a place of danger and as undesirable. However, they seem to think that human behavior is magically changed by the market. So, while we cannot allow people to engage in same sex marriage, we can safely allow financial folks to run free and wild. After all, their reasoning goes, the market will sort things out.
However, if the market can do this, then it should also apply across all of life. After all, if the financial folks can be allowed to run wild and free within the magic of the free market, then the same should apply to everyone. Unless, of course, those financial folks are not human beings but some other different race that can do just fine without laws or restrictions.
So, if human beings need laws to regulate their behavior, this also applies to their economic behavior. Thus, we should no more have a lawless economy than we should have a lawless society. Naturally, the financial folk will complain that they cannot make as much money as they could without such limits. But, I am sure that rapists believe that they could commit many more rapes if only people did not insist on preventing them from doing so.