Thursday, May 05, 2005

There will be a vote on the House floor this afternoon on HB 846, which would jack up permissible interest rates on a pay-day loan to a whopping 780 percent. Answering the question of why someone might get involved in such a scheme, Rep. Flynn (R-Van) had a simple answer: "These people made a choice to use a product. Nobody's forcing them to do this." Welcome to the Republicans' ownership society.

In the black and white world of neo-classical economic theory, which apparently informs Rep. Flynn, all choices are freely made on the economic stage. After all, why would we sell or buy a product - such as our body for labor, or a pay-day loan to make ends meet - unless it was more useful than all the other choices out there? For these economists and their flock, an alcoholic buying another bottle of Yukon Jack is not a genetic issue, merely a question of utility, complete with mathematical formulas.

It’s much easier to model behavior when humans are a blank slate, without all the pesky social, psychological and genetic baggage that fouls up the nice, neat equations. As near as I can figure out, the only people who really believe that man is 100 percent free in his choices, conveniently profit from the theory, as do their mouthpieces in elected office.