Friday, April 18, 2014

The Invisible Hand of Oligarchy

The Invisible Hand in the USA might as well mean "invisible influence of money on our political reps."  Especially when you consider that most corporate spending on elections here is secret information.

Sometimes though, you can see how the money affects the outcome of political process.  When a policy gets passes that the majority of the public disagrees with, you can bet it's that "Invisible Hand of Elite Interest" at work:

Consider the Merchant's House Museum in New York City. This historical museum, a historical preservation society, and thousands of neighborhood residents don't want another "drab on so many levels" hotel to be built in their neighborhood. The hotel construction is guaranteed to damage the neighboring museum and put it out of service for 1 year or more, and require repairs costing $1 million+.  We know this because the same thing happened in the 1980s with another for-profit construction project.

Yet the government body responsible, the NYC "Landmarks Preservation Commission," voted 6-1 to approve the construction with NO guarantees or compensation to the Merchant House museum. So the hotel makes a huge profit at the cost of the neighborhood identity, education, and culture. And the museum might be out of business forever.

The Invisible Hand is said to maximize value and opportunity because market forces guide resources to be used in the most efficient manner. But who's opportunity is being maximized here?  Not the local community, that's for sure.


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    1. Why, thank you! I like to be concise, but leave the breadcrumbs there for anyone who wants to look more.

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