Would the real God fear’n free market please stand up?

I introduce the one, the only, Anatobloc! What it does, who knows and who cares? Because the important thing — indeed the only thing — is it makes its makers money. It has other uses too, not the least of which is it serves as an excellent example of the real free market or RFM below. See, in the idealized hypothetical free market, or HFM, products rise and fall based on price and efficacy with magical elasticity, joined at the hip to supply and demand. But in the RFM it all has to do with promotion and connections. And boy, is this shit ever connected:

WaPo — As the FBI and the Virginia State Police try to determine whether the Republican governor improperly helped Star or its chief executive, Jonnie R. Williams Sr., in exchange for the catering or other gifts, details of the first family’s relationship with the company continue to emerge.

The inclusion of Anatabloc in the gift bags offers a new example of the McDonnells’ work to promote the company, which took place as Star and its chief executive provided more than $120,000 in publicly disclosed gifts and campaign donations to McDonnell, his campaign and his political action committee. In addition, documents newly obtained by The Washington Post through the Freedom of Information Act also show that Maureen McDonnell was in close contact with Williams in 2011 and 2012.

The Govnernor in question is none other than family-values preaching,God fear’n slightly overzealous Governor Bob “Ultrasound” McDonnell of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Teaparty conman right down to the fake degree from Regent University. Gov Ultrasound earned his affectionate nickname the old-fashioned way: trying to shame women seeking pregnancy counseling by forcing them to undergo rape by high-tech dildo, AKA a vaginal ultrasound.

And thanks to Rachel Maddow we know now that in addition to all that perverse interest in lady parts and now this quasi-legal bribery by a vitamin magnate, it turns out there’s been some nefarious looking activity as well. For starters, as reported on MSNBC this evening, the same CEO Williams recently happened by the Governor’s daughter’s wedding where he somehow ended up paying $15,000 for a chicken entrée other guests, presumably, ate for free. That must have been some damn tasty bird. It also turns out there’s word that Governor Ultrasound enjoyed a sweet weekend stay at Williams’ lavish lakehouse, from which he drove home in a borrowed Ferrari. Owned by, guess who, the same CEO. I’ll have the video as soon as my buddies over at Maddow post it.

It’s a great piece, Virgina politics on the Republican side are a fucking laugh riot this year.

On the vitamin CEO, aside from the sheer hilariously seedy nature of it all, it’s a funny way to point out an unfunny point: there is no real free market, at least of the type local Teaparty yokels think they’re electing, no little main street full of shops where consumers vote with their bucks. Quite the opposite, when these clowns get in power there is usually massive influence peddling, open bribery, and the less transparent kind, typically benefitting the already very rich. Some of it happens at the federal level and involves lobbyists and trillion-dollar bailouts, but a lot of it happens at the state and local level among less stellar denizens where it rarely comes to light.

In this case it is coming to light and it’s particularly funny, because Gov Ultrasound puts on a big show pretending to be a devout Christian and full time morality crusader. But it turns out his morality is not only on sale, so is his entire free market ideology. For a weekend stay, a smallish bribe, and a short ride in a borrowed pasta rocket, Gov Ultrasound suddenly becomes pitchman for a dietary supplement that hasn’t even made it to the fad stage yet. What next? I’d ask for the real free market to please stand up, but I’m afraid that would result in the first lady of VA pitching Herbal Life or Ageless Male from the Governor’s Mansion.


  1. Dunc says

    You know what really disappoints me? It’s not that politicians can be bought, it’s that they can be bought so cheaply. Really, we should set up a Kickstarter to buy some of our own.

  2. unbound says

    Stephen – I agree with your remarks completely. Sadly, Dunc has a good idea (and potentially necessary) idea as well.

    Even if we didn’t have corruption all over the place, a truly free market is pretty much impossible to achieve with the nature of the products that we sell. The whole concept of a free market was based on a farmer’s market back millennium ago. Key aspects of a free market that aren’t really discussed anymore include:
    – Low barrier of entry: It shouldn’t take much for new sellers to enter the market (e.g. most everyone can learn to farm with minimal education)
    – Identical products: There shouldn’t be any uniqueness of the products being compared for competition (e.g. a potato from seller X is the same potato form seller Y, so it is very easy to determine quality issues between the sellers)
    – Perfect knowledge of the buyer: The buyer should be aware of all aspects of the product to determine quality (e.g. all buyers understand when an orange is rotting)

    Apply just those 3 concepts to any of the products you normally buy today. Here’s one…think of a cell phone. You need investments of billions to try to enter that market (you can’t develop a viable market share from your garage with a few bucks). No only are there notable differences in behavior between an iPhone, Android and Windows phone, even the individual phones have a good deal of variability for Android and Windows. And the masses of purchasers only have a very limited knowledge of the products they buy, making them incredibly susceptible to PR.

    The reality is that free markets haven’t really existed in a very, very long time; and there is no way to make the concept even remotely viable in a modern economic environment.

  3. Trebuchet says

    “Anatobloc” sounds like something to protect you from attacking ducks.

  4. blindrobin says

    The ‘Free Market’ is mythical. It cannot exist. It is at once the capitalist foundational dogma and a magic invisible pink unicorn. I do wish people would realise this.

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