Press "Enter" to skip to content

Nathan Johnson: Free Market Not Providing Economic Security for the Masses

In our continuing fight for economic justice, I yield the floor to Yankton reporter and commentator Nathan Johnson, because he is right, and because he writes so well:

If Americans truly want to address the poverty that is growing around us, they must sweep aside the myths of individualism so ingrained in the American Dream and look instead at the follies of the free market. By addressing its systemic problems — the concentration of capital into the hands of a few while most workers are underpaid in relation to their productivity, the continued recklessness and lawlessness of the financial sector, and the inability to deal with the hollowing out of so many downtowns as small businesses are forced to succumb to national and international chains, to name a few — we may go a long way toward solving our individual struggles [Nathan Johnson, "Economic Insecurity and the Follies of the Free Market," An Inland Voyage, 2013.08.01].

Johnson notes that today's college graduates have to borrow so much to get the education they need for a middle-class wage that they basically mortgage their retirement. As we globalize and mechanize more skilled labor out of the workforce, we will need to revisit a fundamental question (one I've posed in our minimum-wage discussion): what is a person worth? How much should we pay each citizen for his or her time, labor, and liberty?