If you are stuck in circumstances in which it takes Herculean efforts to get through the day— doing low-income work, obeying an authoritarian boss, buying clothes for the children, dealing with school issues, paying the rent or mortgage, fixing the car, negotiating with a spouse, paying taxes, and caring for older parents— it is not easy to pay close attention to larger political issues. Indeed you may wish that these issues would take care of themselves. It is not a huge jump from such a wish to become attracted to a public philosophy, spouted regularly at your job and on the media, that economic life would regulate itself automatically if only the state did not repeatedly intervene in it in clumsy ways. Now underfunded practices such as the license bureau, state welfare, public health insurance, public schools, public retirement plans, and the like begin to appear as awkward, bureaucratic organizations that could be replaced or eliminated if only the rational market were allowed to take care of things impersonally and quietly, as it were. Certainly such bureaucracies are indeed often clumsy. But more people are now attracted to compare that clumsiness to the myth of how an impersonal market would perform if it took on even more assignments and if state regulation of it were reduced even further. So a lot of “independents” and “moderates” may become predisposed to the myth of the rational market in part because the pressures of daily life encourage them to seek comfort in ideological formations that promise automatic rationality.

~ William E. Connolly