Robert B. Reich


No tenet of American political ideology is clung to more tenaciously than is the idea that private and public sectors of our economy are, and should forever be, strictly separated. It is widely acknowledged, of course, that political choices shape markets; but so long as these interventions do not discriminate among particular outcomes or players, they do not violate the integrity of either domain. The "free market," in this view, occupies one sphere of social activity; "politics," another. Government occasionally intervenes in the market to favor particular groups, but these boundary crossings are exceptions to the general rule of neutrality. They should be carefully controlled and monitored, lest the borderline become blurred. This concern with the integrity of public private borders is not the exclusive province of those on the right of the political spectrum, who forever fret about involuntary redistributions of wealth. Many who style themselves liberals and leftists also seek a strict demarcation. Their spectre is an alliance of large corporations and government agencies that would conspire against the rest of us.

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