by Ken Ruoff
April 24, 2020
Ken Ruoff is Professor of History and Director of the Center for Japanese Studies at Portland State University
During this time of crisis, it is all the more important to affirm our basic national system and values as defined first and foremost by the Constitution.
But we must be clear which values are truly fundamental, such as promoting the general welfare of the public, and which are not, such as the supposed sanctity of "pure market" forces.
The virus has reminded us that we are all in this together and that there is, in fact, a common good, a shared sense of community and responsibility. If there is no common good, then we should not expect health care workers to put their lives on the line to bring this pandemic under control. I doubt many Americans would say that we should leave the pandemic to market forces.
And yet, for the past four decades, the notion that the market should dictate as much as possible in American society has been the dominant viewpoint. And during the past four decades, the circle that constitutes the common good has shrunk.