So, my husband and I were at Braum’s tonight, enjoying sundaes (Peanut-Butter Fudge, baby!) and talking politics. This is something that we do fairly often, partially because I truly enjoy hearing Kyle’s take on the issues, and partially because we belong to the One True Church of NPR, which prompts a lot of discussions. Tonight, we were primarily talking about the current discussion on health care. And it got me thinking. (I know, dangerous, right?)
There are several major industries, (health care/insurance, the banks, and the auto industries,) all which have been closely examined, and in some cases revamped, by the government. Separate instances where the industry has either topped or bottomed out, due to the poor decisions and greed of people, and had to be fixed by the government in order that they continue to serve the American way of life. Here in America, the free market is deeply valued; for many, it personifies the rugged individualism that has made us great. And yet, sometimes it seems as if this free market has become our very demise.
*Important Note* I would like to take a moment to establish that I am in NO WAY about to suggest that we become communists or socialists or whatever -ists Fox News is using to scare people this week. I am merely discussing some of its flaws and opening a dialogue about the possibility of its evolution . So let’s lay off the “Die you heathen commie bitch!” comments, and save them for when I discuss religion and my hatred of Paula Deen.
The theory behind the free market is that whomever has the greatest skill, the most talent, and the best luck for selling a product or service will be rewarded for their hard work and perseverance. But it seems as if in this day and age, this mentality is immature, and childish . The free market system has been taken to extremes by some people. Hard work and creativity only profit so much before they plateau, and for many companies, anything other than serious growth is unacceptable. In my time in the retail industry, I couldn’t help but notice that every year sales had to be higher than the year before, and we had to sell more items per sale than the year before. These companies were taking in millions in profits, yet we required to top our last year’s sales by at least 15%, regardless of the current economy or political climate. Growth has to be attained by any means necessary, be it lowering the quality of the product or manipulating the costumers to purchase more. We can no longer trust that those at the head of corporations will make community-responsible choices or act with the best interest of the average American in mind. Such companies will continue forward with only profit in mind and never let up, even when it means that they’ve become detrimental to the very consumers that they seek.
In our earliest years as a nation, the free-market system was one of the things that made this country strong. It drove innovation, instilled a strong work-ethic, and rewarded the creative and intelligent. Countless inventions grew from the need to do things faster, cheaper, and more efficiently. But it almost feels as if we’ve reached the pinnacle of free market’s success, and it is slowly turning toxic. I do not suggest that we abandon the free market system, as it is what has made us great; but I wonder that maybe it’s time that we stop worshiping blindly at the alter of the free market system, and instead talk, and think, and see if there are other ways of living life and doing business that are equally valid.