January 15, 2006

Democracy—Thin and Loving It

This Huffington Post article is from mid-December, but I dug it up this morning from Delicious, where I had stashed it when it came out. I'm really glad I rediscovered it; it makes a number of excellent points.

The main one is that the current American concept of democracy—elections and a free market—is insufficient. The follow-up point is that democracy's heart and soul is the wide dispersion of power, and it is that requirement that we are missing.

The second important point is that our market economy, driven as it is solely by providing the highest return to stockholders with no other ethical, political, or even cultural motivations, is antithetical to the wide dispersion of power.

I'd like to read some Milton Friedman for a balanced perspective, but that argument sounds pretty strong to me. If any conservatives or libertarians have a specific recommendation in that vein, I'd be appreciative. I plan on reading Free to Choose, but there's probably something else I should read.

Also, I knew the Indianapolis Colts weren't that good. This makes me sad.


  1. The article lumps a lot of general concepts together, but I think its general idea is sound.
    Democracy requires access to power, and the nature of our electoral politics skew that access towards a smaller segment of society. Meanwhile, social mobility (that whole thing that we otherwise know as the American dream) is doing pretty shabby these days, and that definitely exacerbates existing access problems.
    Publically financed campaigns could be a big help, but so could faith in political solutions that affect everyday life. If issues like social security, health care, and education aren't seriously tackled with apolitical dedication to a logical solution, social mobility will remain weak and so will political interest.

  2. dude, didn't you get the memo? the american dream was downgraded from social mobility to home ownership (or at any rate, 2 or fewer mortgages) years ago.

  3. Free to Choose is a good start. Ultimately, though, you'll find it easy to pick all kinds of holes into Friedman's thoughts. I've yet to find any book/article that convinces me that the invisible hand is at all who we should trust to guide our economy (and nation).