Markets are not bad.

What? Is this not the same Chris Henrichsen who has proudly proclaimed to be a socialist? That is indeed me (and you must not have read those blog posts).

Markets play an important role in a healthy political economy. They promote the existence of affordable quality products and services. They disperse economic decision-making power.

However, markets cannot do certain things. The are not indicators of virtue or moral value. The are not always the best at determining good taste in art.

The primary strength of markets is determining prices. Yet, markets are not a good in and of themselves. Humanity is the only good in and of itself. To the extent that markets advance the human good, they should be sustained and promoted. However, when markets promote extreme inequality, poverty, and cruelty, there is no defense for these aspects. Note that this does not require us to abolish markets.

This is why the social contract is so important. A democratic system of government is needed to mediate the negative by-products of the market. This is also why it is important to have a just basic structure of society.

Democracy is the best means of securing the human good. Markets play a role. So do governments. But both markets and governments become social ills, as opposed to social goods, outside of a democratic setting.