The list of libertarian market ideology ruins is long: health care, the banking system, public schools, airlines, the public universities, energy. You don’t have to be a nostalgic dreamer to realize that we would be much better off if we had gotten a national health care system as a part of the New Deal, or that we would not be facing the death of a thousand fees each time we take a trip back home if we had rational airline regulations, or that democratic education would be better served by a system of tenured professors and school teachers. The irrationality of private markets needs a public counterweight.
Yet the religion of the market marches on unabated, now perhaps exemplified in Texas governor Perry’s ongoing attempts to use the same destructive market ideology on the Texas university system. Perry’s been at it for a decade, and in the 1990s lots of us worked to organize state workers and graduate students in order to try to stop then Governor Bush from selling off everything he found in state government for pennies on the dollar. The rigidity of these ideas is one thing, but worse still is that they still seem to sell so well to the very public they are designed to rob. Maybe Marx is less helpful in this context than P.T. Barnum.