Capitalist Theology on the CBC

Read my take on CBC Radio‘s summer 2012 show “The Invisible Hand” on Active History.

I was prompted to write this piece after hearing the show’s homage to price gougers—those who, in the aftermath of crises such 1998’s ice storm in central Canada or 2005’s Hurricane Katrina in the US Gulf Coast, seek to exploit a situation of crisis-induced shortages (not to mention the desperation of others) for personal financial gain. The show’s conclusions seemed so out of line with my own historical research, which suggests there’s value in governments attempting to regulate such activity. (The picture below is a WWII poster produced by the US Office of Price Administration, which oversaw American price control and rationing.)

My commentary on the show was pretty critical. Interestingly, I was contacted by the show’s host, with whom I had a quite pleasant email exchange. In fairness, one of the later episodes of the show featured a committed Keynesian, which did provide a bit of balance, but I think the overall critique is still valid.

By Dr. Joseph Tohill

There’s nothing like a bit of neoconservative propaganda gussied up as a hip, edgy CBC radio program to get your blood boiling on a hot summer’s day. The Invisible Hand, a mid-week staple of Radio One’s summer schedule hosted by

Vancouver broadcaster Matthew Lazin-Ryder, bills itself as “a defiantly non-dismal take on the ‘dismal science’ of economics.” Revelling in its role as cheeky iconoclast, the show seeks to upend the conventional wisdom about greedy price gougers, rapacious capitalists, and exploitative sweatshop owners.

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