Free markets, enslaved minds

Sam Smith

One of the myths of the economaniacs is that everything in life is a function of how money is used and who uses it. To be sure, it was, as previously noted here, fortunate that economists discovered money before manure or we would be faced with a Really Gross National Product and our lives would driven by defecatory trends as interpreted by academic and media experts.

But there is, in fact, one largely undiscussed way in which our economic approach truly reaches deep into all aspects of our culture: the massive corporatism under which we live (concealed under the guise of free market capitalism) is making us dangerously dumb.

This not only affects our purchases but every aspect of our lives. Consider, for example, where the average American learns things. At the top the of list would have to be advertising on television combined with the news and programming created to attract that advertising.

There are, to be sure, other influences such as schools, but how many teachers can sell common sense or useful skepticism as well as advertising agencies sell products and the values that lead one to buy them? And consider the time spent in the education compared with the time spent before the tube – even by the young, let alone by adults.

There is also organized religion, which – in its sadly most typical forms these days – is a prime encourager of myths potentially disastrous to the earth, including denial of climate change and opposition to birth control.

But still greater is the ubiquitous influence of the corporados not just on our wallets but on our minds. And it’s not just the messages we receive through the television. It can be found in the distortion in values of non-profits now seeking to meet corporate standards and, perhaps most dangerously, in the policies and rhetoric of our politicians.

In the end, it will not be what we buy – foolish as that may be – that will do us in, but what we think. And the free market every minute is teaching us wrong things – in as many as 3,000 messages for each American every day.

As the anti-worker developments in Michigan, Wisconsin and Maine warn us, we are even losing the ability to perceive our own self interest. And when that happens, we cease being citizens and become helpless victims.

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