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In the market, no one can hear you scream

Shelley Powers' elderly father had surgery. True to modern ideas, he was to be released into home care. But it didn't go so well:

The surgeon who operated on Dad sent him home without any further instructions for physical therapy, care, and medicine, particularly pain medicine. All the assisted living home could give Dad was regular Tylenol. My brother hit the roof and had a frank discussion with the head of the assisted living house who directed Mike to the hospital discharge nurse who also had a frank discussion with Mike.

The long and short of it was that the surgeon felt Dad was going home to die anyway, and didnâ??t need any additional care. Including physical therapy, special care to help Dad once home, and pain medicine.

That was a mistake on his part.

I feel a grim ennui on hearing stories like this, and like Christian's. That this kind of thinking is typical is made clear by comment after comment, and my own knowledge of similar situations in my own family, and in the families of friends and acquaintances and of people I barely know...

This is the dark side of the free market. Free markets are efficient, we're told. Like machines that automatically seek a level. Like water seeking a level during a flood. Like snow seeking a level in an avalanche. Grinding people and homes beneath them.

Markets are efficient. They efficiently slot people into their tracks and grooves and efficiently grind up anyone who slips out of those tracks and grooves. Humanity becomes maladaptive, so long as you remain within the system.

What the market "wants" is a separate system, that exists "outside" the market, to support it. The efficient market will grind humanity to such a find spray that it will leave no knots of initiative or innovation or humanity anywhere, leaving us with a robotic society worthy of a J. G. Ballard story.

What the market "wants" is a system to maintain humanity for it, while seeming not to have any relation to it: It wants charity to be a personal matter, for just enough of the elderly to be maintained to make us think it's possible, and to make churches and cultural leagues and community charities take care of everything. So the Market can absolve itself of any responsibility for anything human. (Peace Be Upon The Market.)

(Not unions, of course. Let these social organizations have nothing to do with work -- it must be possible to look at these safety-net organizations and allow yourself to not understand that the Market relies upon them. The Market must be sacrosanct, after all; it would be blasphemous to suggest that anything in the human world is not market-driven at its base....)

At the end all I'm left with is a knot in my gut.

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