Here's the paragraph with the sentence in bold that caught my eye:
The classic refrain from Wall Street and the Republicans, in opposition to President Obama’s $500,000 cap on the salaries of those bank executives who have so failed in their jobs that they required billions of taxpayer money, is that 1) the market should determine the salaries; and 2) the best get paid the best. Those two excuses are, of course, wrong. Banks were failing all last year, but the market did nothing to prevent those failed CEOs and executives from receiving hundreds of millions, if not billions, in bonuses that they did not earn. Indeed, some of the bonuses paid out had the feel of a literal robbery. And if these miserable failures in life did earn that money, if they were the best, then why are banks failing everywhere? Why did they need a federal bailout?
OK, I was poised to say (in my own, long-winded way, which would drive donviti nuts because I can spell all the words I want to use), Hey, wait a minute, this sentence just proves you don't have the slightest idea what a market is, or how it operates. Markets are non-sentient, complex dynamic systems. Markets don't have consciousness, much less a conscience or opinions about who should get what, or who should be rewarded. Markets are Darwinian.
Then, a funny thing happened. Scrolling down the comments I noticed that--wonder of wonders!--jason actually sort of made my point for me:
The Bottom Line is that banks need to fail. The people who ran those banks need to be fired and the people who invest in those banks (whether they are governments or individuals) need to lose money.
Exactly, jason: in markets, unsuccessful businesses fail, and people who invest in failure lose their investments.
Ironically, only a few lines down, somebody attacked jason for saying it:
This is an un-American statement.
Why do I find this ironic? Simply because jason spends about 10% of his vehement verbiage in his own posts accusing pretty much anybody who disagrees with his political or economic views of hating America.
But I digress....
Then liberalgeek jumped in to explain to jason's critic that it would only be un-American if jason had said:
Bottom line is that these banks cannot be allowed to fail. The people that ran those banks should be rewarded and the people that invest in those banks need to make money.
Except, of course, we live in a nation wherein banks and multinational corporations have become too big to fail, primarily because the Federal government is so inteventionist and hopelessly corrupt that it doesn't just attempt to regulate the market for fairness in competition, but also actively picks winners and losers for reasons that usually have very little to do with economics (and a lot to do with large envelopes of money and junkets to the Caribbean for the likes of Charlie Rangel and Sheila Jackson-Lee).
Bookend: during World War Two, President Roosevelt blatantly favored the corporations that had funded his (by then) three candidacies by mandating that unions must accept a wide-ranging wage freeze and adopt a no-strike agreement, but not capping the profits that could be made by the corporations for whom they worked. Result? By 1945 those corporations (in the same kind of massive government-induced transfer of wealth economist Paul Krugman would like to see repeated) had put away billions in record profits, and the wages of unionized industrialized workers (adjusted for inflation) had fallen below what they had been in 1938....
Bookend: today, in a misguided protectionist attempt to revive an American steel industry that died three decades ago and should have long been safely embalmed, President Obama wants to use his Bail-out legislation to force companies that receive government stimulus to only purchase American steel. Not only does this threaten to set off a trade war with our most loyal trading partner (Canada), but it also insures that new products will be more expensive than they need to be, because the American steel producers now have a protected market and no competitive dynamics to force prices down. Ironically, this attempt to save the jobs of American steelworkers will only transfer their unemployment to the American citizens who had jobs representing foreign steel manufacturers, and those put out of work when the products they produce become too expensive for the rest of us to buy.
The structural deficiencies in the American system today are the result of decades of uninformed tinkering by both liberals and conservatives who pretty much differ primarily in the particular corporations and market sectors they want to privilege.
The defense-industrial lobby has kept McDonnell-Douglass and Grumman and Raytheon in business long after market forces should have sent that capital in other directions, but since Raytheon lobbyist William Linn is now running the Pentagon, don't look for that to change.
Likewise, for all those liberals decrying the abuses of Blackwater in Iraq (and I happen to agree with them on getting mercenaries out of our foreign policy), the legitimization of military contractors began only very tentatively in the Reagan-Bush years, but hit full steam during the Clinton administration, when Bubba decided to compensate for the US military build-down by creating a whole new market sector with State Department contracts.
I could go on, but readers here generally fall into two categories: those who actually understand the technical defintion of the term market and those who think it means an extension of the government's authority tasked with insuring nobody ever loses a job or an investment, which should also correct social injustices and wash your car every other Saturday.