Everything for Sale

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Everything for Sale by Robert Kuttner:

A Summary

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Everything for Sale by Robert Kuttner:
A Summary
In his book, Robert Kuttner (1999) tries to shake the dominant orthodoxy of laissez-faire economics, which he sees as the “natural form of capitalism,” by attempting to “reclaim a defensible middle ground” between when the market is “best left alone” and when it “needs help” (p. 5). Kuttner’s chief premise is that a mixed economy is necessary for a society that is civil and decent, a society where the economy is in optimum health. For Kuttner, unfettered laissez-faire economy is in conflict with mixed economy, and that their opposition is essentially a struggle between the moderate but rational dissent — the call for a mixed economy — and the prevailing orthodoxy, or the desire to retain the economic status quo. He further maintains that a mixed economy is realistic precisely because there is virtually no escape from politics, especially in the economic landscape where the government can influence its course by adopting certain national economic policies.

Kuttner readily accepts some notable contributions of the market system. For instance, he concedes that “[m]arkets accomplish much superbly,” and that “[t]hey offer consumers broad choices” (Kuttner, 1999, p. 11). Paraphrasing Adam Smith, Kuttner (1999) states that “the great paradox of the market is that the individual pursuit of self-interest aggregates to an efficient general good” (p. 11). He reaffirms the long-held belief that markets, when left alone, can lead to a vibrant economy.

Yet, Kuttner eventually notes that the free market capitalist system is not entirely a rigid structure that has an aversion to changes. He believes that, “[f]or economies to operate efficiently, drastic change or abrupt disjuncture is the exception rather than the rule” (Kuttner, 1999, p. 12). Thus, markets...
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