Progressive views on the economy

Good piece from Salon shows how progressives think about the economy and goes into how conservatives think about it and the distinctions.

A few years ago, I think it was Ms. Magazine that said there is the private sector, there is the government and there are non-profits. Which one do you use for which task? Well, it depends. Some sectors are better at performing certain tasks than others are. Michael Lind adds in utilities. He defines a utility as something that operates more or less as a private enterprise does, but it’s regulated so that the public doesn’t have to deal with constant votality. Electric power is regulated because consumers and businesses simply don’t have the time and the energy to deal with constant price fluctuations and to bargain and haggle for the best electric rate of the day.  Sure, society as a whole might pay a bit less for electric power per year, but we have better uses for our time and energy than to squander it on such trivial savings.

He also brings up the same point about health care that I’ve heard many progressives bring up as well. A patient who is suffering from an immediate medical problem such as a heart attack is simply in no shape to go online and research which hospitals offer the best heart attack care. It’s simply not practical to leave that up to the free market. Regular check-ups are perhaps an exception, but regular check-ups are a positive social good that are well worth the extra expense of providing, so that doesn’t really fall under what’s best handled by free enterprise either.

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