The missing monster: Markets make us moral, but what about politics?

Originally published in The Review of Austrian Economics

A common view of markets that has existed since before there were global markets or even the science of economics to study them, is that they are like the proverbial Midas—except everything they touch does not turn to gold but instead is corrupted. In their book, do markets corrupt our morals? Ginny Choi and Virgil Storr confront the questions people have about the effects of markets on our everyday lives and the claims often levied against them. They find that the usual answers to these questions and charges are insufficient. The project shows that many evils we tend to colloquially attribute to markets either are not happening at all or are the fault of something other than markets. I will emphasize three aspects of the book that present an original contribution to political economy—its accessibility to an interdisciplinary audience in the tradition of the history of political economic thought, its attention to culture, and finally that it goes beyond the minimalist defense of markets. I then present my main critique of the book, that it does not engage with the political aspect of political economy, and offer a potential solution to this critique through civic engagement.

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