Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Column on "Marketplace" Follies

Marketplace Follies

Tibor R. Machan

No, I am not about to lament some supposed failures of the free market,
even if I am a supporter of it who doesn?t argue that it?s perfect. Market
places are human realms and, as is likely, will contain human follies.

My focus is on the radio program, usually following NPR?s ?All Things
Considered,? produced, I believe, by RPI, Radio Public International, that
manages each evening to chime in on various aspects of the highly mixed
economic market place we have here in the USA and around the globe?we
might call it, markets with petty dictators regimenting everyone about.
This program is one I once was invited to join as a commentator, back in
the late 80s, but when I sent in some sample commentaries they were
rejected because I had been too fervent in my support of, you guessed it,
the free market place.

Anyway, with full disclosure behind me, let me tell you what caught my
attention on their program Wednesday afternoon, June 15, 2005. There was
an interview with one Ruth Epstein, a former Wall Street trader, I think
they said she was, who had gone to Hollywood to produce a movie, ?The
Deal,? about the oil business, a movie in the making, she told the
interviewer, for five years.

From what I learned in this interview, this movie pretty much buys into
the Michael Moore theory of the international oil business?it?s all pretty
conspiratorial, underhanded, and generally harmful to everyone but all
those bad guys in the industry.

OK, what else would one expect from a Hollywood movie about oil trade,
coming out of the same culture that produced Wall Street and dozens of
other pictures, including David Mamet?s Glenn Gary Glenn Ross (the current
Broadway hit that?s a major relentless and tiresome put down of those who
work in the real estate business)? Business bashing is the name of the
game in tinsel town, even while the main activity there is, of course,
business. Just goes to show you how wrong Marx was in thinking that
people in business will routinely promote their self-interest!

No, what was most noteworthy in the Marketplace interview is how few
challenges Ms. Epstein heard from whoever it was who interviewed her. It
was all a classic instance of throwing the Christians to the Christians.
Every question was a soft ball, a veritable support group type chit chat,
with both parties ganging up on big oil and capitalism.

Just now this is especially disgusting since during the last few days
various news services have finally published reports that point out that
oil prices are actually relatively low. Mark J. Perry, professor of
finance and economics at the University of Michigan-Flint and an adjunct
scholar at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Michigan, made this
clear in a recent essay in USA
Compared to earlier times, the amount people spend on gasoline is a far
smaller percentage of their income than it is today.

Judging by what transpired on the Marketplace interview, however, the idea
that gas prices are way over the top figures in heavily in the plot of The
Deal. It functions as major and decisive evidence for how Big Oils is
screwing the consumer around the globe, especially in America.

Well, it isn?t so, but did the interviewer raise it as a possibility? Of
course she did not. Marketplace, like its fellow programs on NPR, is
nothing if not a piece of the unending Leftist propaganda, partly funded
by extorting money from citizens via taxation. This is just the sort of
policy the US Supreme Court, with the enthusiastic support of one Justice
Antonin Scalia, supported as fully constitutional in a recent ruling that
upheld using tax monies for government public service and special interest
support messages. As I wrote in connection with that case, ?Justice
Scalia, writing for the majority in the 6 to 3 decision, explained:
?Compelled funding of government speech does not alone raise First
Amendment concerns.? He added: ?Citizens may challenge compelled support
of private speech, but have no First Amendment right not to fund
government speech?.?

This, of course, protects NPR and Marketplace from any legal challenge
concerning their use of tax monies to proselytize whatever they wish. So,
please remember: to find any kind of hard-hitting interview with the likes
of the producer of The Deal, you will have to go elsewhere than
Marketplace, where they always love to diss the market, never praise it.

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