Tuesday, 10 October 2017

The high cost of freedom in America.

Freedom isn’t free.

You may think that statement is trite. I actually think it makes a ton of sense.

Americans are rightfully proud to live in the Land of the Free. We have more freedom than most countries in all sorts of awesome ways: religion, speech, movement, etc. As they say, it makes us the envy of the world and is the primary reason why immigrants — legal and otherwise — still flock to our borders and shores.

Of course, there are limits to our freedom. We are not free to murder and pillage, sell heroin, run naked onto an NFL field. These are easily agreed upon taboos. Reason being is that the cost to society of allowing that much freedom is simply unacceptable and/or morally reprehensible.

There are also what I call ‘debatable freedoms,” those which we have hashed out to decide whether or not they are worth exercising. Our acceptance of them evolves over time. Think legalized marijuana or same-sex marriage.

And then there are other societal freedoms many of us seem to believe in that come with huge, often under-recognized, and to my mind, hard-to-defend costs. Three examples here are free, unfettered financial markets; a wide-open internet; and nearly unlimited access to firearms. Many of us believe passionately in these freedoms, but I wonder if we fully understand the price we pay for them.

Let’s take them one by one.

Free, unfettered financial markets
You could argue that the financial crisis of 2008/2009 came about in large part because of deregulated or under-regulated financial markets. Speculation in credit derivatives and mortgage-backed securities, along with accompanying risks that were poorly understood, created systemic risk, which badly damaged our nation’s economy and much of the rest of the world’s as well. How much did these free financial markets cost us during the Great Recession? It’s hard to pin down exactly, but I’ve seen estimates of anywhere from $12 trillionto $22 trillion  yes, with a ‘T’.

By Andy Serwer.

Full story at Yahoo News.

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