Late this summer, August 27-30, the world will once again be treated to the spectacle of a Republic National Convention. It's only fitting that this one will be held in Tampa, Florida, the state that made it possible for George W. Bush to steal the election in 2000. The convention is a sure bet to be a theater of the absurd, but this year the candidate it anoints and the speeches that sing his praises will highlight the hypocrisy of the new Grand Old Party like never before.
Of all the hypocritical hype resonating through the rhetoric of these Republicans, none is more damaging than the myth of free market and the jive about private-sector job creators. A vibrant economy operating without state intervention or regulation is one of the most pernicious, pervasive, and persistent myths in contemporary American politics.
Today even in the aftermath of the wild-assed, credit-crazed, derivative-driven, deliriously leveraged bubble economy that finally triggered the financial meltdown in 2008 – even after the near-collapse of the global economy and the Great Recession that followed (and still lingers), few Republican leaders dare to say a kind word about the need for state regulation or tax reform, and Democrats too often concede in practice what they dare not renounce in principle. In fact, there is not a country in the world, never has been and never will be, where the economy operates in a political-administrative or legal vacuum. Which is to say, there is no such thing as a free market or a pure market economy.
Nothing even close. And while it's true that the state plays a smaller role in some economies than in others, the United States is in no sense exemplary except by one measure: hypocrisy.
For proof, we can turn to no less an authority than Niall Ferguson, a self-confessed true believer in Adam Smith's "invisible hand". Earlier this ...