Milton Friedman

Obama and the “Chicago School” of Economics


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Sometimes the business press gives us a breath of fresh air. Less than a week after Obama’s electoral win, and when “change” was still the battle cry of many of his supporters, the Wall Street Journal ran a piece entitled “Obama builds ties to Chicago School.”

As many are no doubt aware, the “Chicago School” refers to the notorious Chicago School of Economics, a school, or perhaps more accurately a school of thought, known for touting free markets, so-called “free trade,” and for being fiercely opposed to any democratic oversight of market activities. 

The article, tucked neatly in the corner of the fifth page, is reassuring. With the McCain campaign’s attempt to portray Obama as a “socialist,” it isn’t unthinkable some might actually have started to believe Obama would bring “change” to Wall Street (even if only reformist change).

Of course, as the piece points out, this isn’t true. Obama clearly, and patriotically, supports the capitalist class. Not only that, he largely supports the utopian economic vision of “libertarian” capitalism that the far-right is so fond of. From their point of view, there is no need to worry.

Every couple days there are little not-so-subtle articles like this sprinkled across popular business press publications. They are the equivalent of a cigar-chomping wink from one capitalist to another. “He’s one of us,” they say. And they are right.

What these articles don’t mention, however, is the death of eight million people every year because they can’t afford to buy food. The food is there, it isn’t a question of production, they simply lack the piece of paper they can trade for the sack of rice. This is a direct result of the system defended, and formulated, by the vulgar economists in the pages of publications like the Wall Street Journal. They harbor no illusions about an Obama presidency, it is time the working class didn’t either.

After a few lessons taught by the “School of the Democrats,” there is no doubt in my mind many who voted for the first time this past election will understand: the working class needs a true workers’ party!


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