Can we please stop claiming that prices and wages are determined by the invisible hand? This supposed inscrutable force is often quite scrutable and goes by the name power. Consider this hate email liberal activist David Sirota received after a TV appearance (boldface original):
I made a simple point that America is now more economically unequal than it was just before the Great Depression. I subsequently received a wave of very angry hate mail…[one such email]:
I think I am in the majority of Americans who are sick and tired of the unproductive living off of the government. They have become satisfied with a meager existence because it requires no effort on their part…
The recent “tax cuts” for Americans is a farce. Taking money from the productive and giving it to the non productive creates an even larger segment of do nothing folks. I own 6 four family units and one 12 unit building in Cincinnati, Ohio…When the so called tax cuts were announced, I immediately raised the rents on all units to be a few dollars more than the “cuts”. I raised the rents, not because I needed or wanted more money but as an act of rebellion and anger at what is happening in this country.
….In this email, we literally have a landlord bragging about taking his anger out on renters, because the renters had the nerve to get a meager tax cut.
During the last decade or more, we’ve been subjected to incessant propaganda about how wages and salaries are arrived at justly (or mostly so) by wonderful free market mechanisms. If the organized Wall Street looting doesn’t convince you, this greedhead should. Wages, rents, and loan terms are determined by power relationships as much, if not more than, as any free markets. CEOs and executives receive great pay packages, not because they improve shareholder value (snicker), but because they can. Stack the board with cronies and loot the shareholders. The asshole above can hike rents for no good reason because he can (and somehow I get the feeling the extra proceeds won’t be donated to a good cause).
Free market, Easter Bunny. Same difference.