Let the market decide.

When you’re having a political conversation like advocating for some election or public policy result and you hear someone say, “Let the market decide,” what they mean is this:

Let’s do nothing.

There’s no law against businesses and individuals donating to charity or offering adequate healthcare to the destitute or being generous to the poor or giving out decent wages for menial labor. The market can already choose to do those things. It mostly hasn’t.

Saying that the market should decide is saying that everything that should be done is being done and there’s no reason to pool resources together through the government to make things better. Except it’s saying it in a sneaky way that sounds more serious than, “Eh, so what?”

Call your senator

These are the Democrats who didn’t sign that letter:

Max Baucus, Michael Bennet, Jeff Bingaman, Tom Carper, Bob Casey, Kent Conrad, Chris Coons, Dick Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, Kay Hagan, John Kerry, Amy Klobuchar, Herb Kohl, Mary Landrieu, Joe Lieberman, Claire McCaskill, Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson, Mark Pryor, Jeanne Shaheen, Jon Tester, Mark Udall, Mark Warner, Jim Webb.

If your senator’s name is on that list, call them!

Why don’t you give all your money to Third World children?

That was an actual question I was recently asked over Twitter during a disagreement with a conservative over the role and importance of individual vs. collective action, in response to my arguing that good outcomes were a big moral deal.

Twitter is a terrible place for an in-depth conversation, but I’ve had people throw that down in similar conversations before like it’s some kind of trump card. ‘If you care so much, why aren’t you giving away all your money to private charity?’

First, I do give to private charities that directly help low-income people in the US and abroad. But I was also raised believing that it’s morally odious to brag a lot in public about how many good things you do. And I hope those contributions do some good, but a) I know they aren’t going to solve anything and b) if they’re the only thing I have in my favor good-personwise, I’m so going to Hell, which I both do and absolutely don’t believe in.

Though second, and more importantly, I think reliance on private charity is a crappy way to run the world. Which is why I want government to work better.

If you would like to read a very thorough explanation of my position, follow me below the fold …

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