Monday, December 31, 2012

Individual Responsibility and/or Societal Conditions?

In the horrifying case of Adam Lanza, using a Bushmaster automatic weapon to kill 28, including 20 children, while they were attentively sitting listening to their teachers (sitting ducks), the nation turned to a discussion about guns in society.  His act was discussed in context with America’s love affair with guns, the power of the NRA and pro-weapons-at-all-costs.  Should we look at larger social conditions that exacerbate a deranged individual’s ability to kill?  Or should we seek to limit responsibility to that one individual?  The conundrum between nature and nurture is one that has afflicted philosophers, psychologists and sociologists for decades, if not centuries.

If a deranged individual kills someone and claims the motive is hatred of Muslims and is indeed charged with a hate crime, do we look at social conditions or the individual?  Is our society rife with Islamophobia that might tip someone deranged over the edge?  In my next post, I will discuss blatant Islamophobic messages (assuming they do exist in American society) and whether there is some connection between them and actions taken by violent individuals taken in response.

After all, we still don’t know why Adam Lanza would kill 20 innocent children in their classrooms.  What was he influenced by?  Was he pure evil?  We may never know.

Anti-Muslim Subway Posters Prompt NYPD To Increase Security in Stations 

Anti-Islam Subway Ads By Pam Geller Featuring Exploding World Trade Center, Quote form the Quran

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Is Rupert Murdoch an anti-Semite? Is Peter Beinart?

SPOILER ALERT:  I am a Jewish person as are many of those mentioned in this blog post.  It's up to the reader to decide whether that is relevant.

Rupert Murdoch, doyen of Newscorp, tweeted himself into radioactive territory by writing, “Why is Jewish-owned press so consistently anti-Israel in every crisis?” Saturday night, 11/17/12.  One can criticize the paper of record and the Washington Post as propaganda, an irony for the owner of “fair and balanced” Fox News, but using the phrase “Jewish-owned press” references 1930s Germany.

In his post on Open Zion in The Daily Beast, Peter Beinart poses his own question, “Why is the conservative press defending Murdoch?”:

After noting that perhaps Murdoch did over-generalize a bit, Commentary's Jonathan Tobin argued that, “it wasn’t unreasonable for the non-Jewish Murdoch to wonder why these [Jewish-owned] papers as well as much of the liberal media are often so reflexively hostile to Israel’s cause.” The New York Sun declared that Murdoch’s “apology was unnecessary.” Michael Goldfarb, chairman of the hawkish Center for American Freedom, tweeted “New York Times proves @RupertMurdoch correct."
Peter Beinart, senior political writer for The Daily Beast, associate professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, wrote The Crisis of Zionism, which came out in April 2012.  He was roundly pilloried and accused of promoting anti-Israeli, anti-Semitic sentiments with his book.

The second irony are the pithy statements condensing the arguments against The Crisis of Zionism in a strongly worded book review in the The New York Times.  Jonathan Rosen, the reviewer, pointed out what he saw as the flaws in Beinart’s argument: not understanding or empathizing with Israel as a small country adrift in a sea of hostile neighbors who would like nothing better than its destruction.  Rosen wrote of Beinart’s work:
Like a majority of Israelis, Beinart believes that it is depleting, degrading and dangerous for Israel to oversee the lives of millions of stateless Palestinians, and also like a majority of Israelis, he thinks the solution is the creation of a Palestinian state.

But because he minimizes the cataclysmic impact of the second Intifada; describes Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza not as a gut-wrenching act of desperation but as a cynical ploy to continue the occupation by other means; belittles those who harp on a Hamas charter that calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews the world over; and plays down the magnitude of the Palestinian demand for a right of return — not to a future Palestine but to Israel itself, which would destroy the Jewish state — he liberates his book from the practicalities of politics.
If this is a display of anti-Israeli feeling in the "Jewish-owned press", rhen the year is 1984

That turns Murdoch’s tweet on its head.  Just as Romney revealed his true feelings when he spoke about the 47% eschewing personal responsibility or that Obama gave gifts to get people to vote for him, Murdoch is revealing more than he might think.  And his eager acolytes, the same that condemn Beinart for anti-Semitism, fall all over themselves to excuse his behavior.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Wal-Mart Loves the NLRB: Who'da Thunk It?

In a hilarious switcheroo, according to an article in today’s NYT, Wal-Mart has filed a complaint with the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) to prevent its employees from participating in demonstrations on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving generally known as the biggest shopping day of the year.  The Chamber of Commerce loathes the NLRB almost as much as the ACLU.  Certainly if Romney/Ryan had been elected, one order of business would have been to eliminate it.

It’s interesting how reporter Steve Greenhouse differed in his presentation of Wal-Mart and its battle with OUR Walmart (Organization United for Respect at Walmart) when he wrote about their relationship back in June 2011.  That article focused on OUR Walmart and gave the employees a voice; today’s article is told mainly from the point-of-view of Wal-Mart’s management and law professors.  Today’s article assumes throughout that OUR Walmart is a union, providing a foundation for Wal-Mart’s claim that:

Continuing protests were illegal because under the National Labor Relations Act, a union seeking recognition can picket for a maximum of 30 days.  After that, it must either stop picketing or take a formal unionization vote.

In the June 2011 article, Greenhouse made it clear in the first paragraph that OUR Walmart was not a union:

After numerous failed attempts to unionize Wal-Mart stores, the nation’s main union for retail workers has decided to try a different approach: it has helped create a new, nonunion group of Wal-Mart employees that intends to press for better pay, benefits and most of all, more respect at work.

Ironically, the fact that OUR Walmart is not a union is supposed to protect them under federal law:

Unlike a union, the group will not negotiate contracts on behalf of workers.  But its members could benefit from federal labor laws that protect workers from retaliation for engaging in collective discussion and action.

Now Wal-Mart is seeking protection under federal law.  Poor baby!  Wonder who it supported for president with mucho dead presidents.

Why don’t the workers unionize at Walmart?  Because Wal-Mart will use deadly tactics.  (Although not as deadly as when Frank Little, union organizer for Industrial Workers of the World [IWW] was forcibly taken from his home and lynched from a train trestle while he was helping organize a strike against the Anaconda Copper Company.  Yet.)  It's ferocious:

Wal-Mart has aggressively battled organizing drives at its stores—it even closed a Canadian store after its workers voted to unionize.

Greenhouse quotes a worker in the first article, which he doesn’t do in the second:

“Someone has to stand up to say something,” said Deondra Thomas, a shoe department employee at a Dallas Wal-Mart, who earns $8.90 an hour after three years there.  “So many people have been quiet for so long.  A lot of us think Wal-Mart is an awesome company, but as far as the employees, they treat us like dirt.”

A family of 4 making $23,050 qualifies as poverty-level according to the 2012 guidelines.  If Deondra works full-time, 40 hours a week), she would gross $17,800.

In today’s article, the only reference to the workers is indirect:

Many of [Walmart’s] workers assert that Wal-Mart pays poverty-level wages, assigns too few hours a week and retaliates against protesting employees.

Note the use of the word “assert” which qualifies it, making it open to interpretation, as opposed to the quote from Ms. Thomas in the first article.  (I wonder what ever happened to her.  Is she still working for Wal-Mart?  Greenhouse could have followed up his own story to check if Wal-Mart retaliated against her.  He also could have checked pay stubs to verify poverty-level claims.)

The not-so-funny thing about Wal-Mart’s poverty level wages is that it depends on government benefits to fill in the food and health care gaps.

What would the service economy do without the government?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Scapegoat Needed: Group Hysteria

Violence, high unemployment and malaise pervade the atmosphere.  Things fall apart; the center will not hold.  It's time for witch trials and a scapegoat carved out of sexual hysteria and the fear of pandemics.

The discarded outcast is destroyed (or destroys him/herself) for the sake of the community. She serves a vital purpose, to draw the ire and inchoate hatreds of the group upon herself. She exists to be the outsider and functions to enhance the well-being of those within.  The only action to be taken to appease the community in the face of this loathsome creature is to institute a form of social control.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Social control used in this way covers a multitude of sins.  Snorting the air of self-satisfaction and superiority, the members of the community only wish her to be banished from their sight.

This dynamic is seen starkly in the short story, "The Lottery", by Shirley Jackson, which depicts a wholesome farming town that depends on the community to gather together for the harvest day ritual.  Just ordinary people trying to guarantee their survival against the prospect of famine.  Spoiler alert: human sacrifice.  It can happen here.  It can happen to you.

It's tantamount to sexual hysteria and can be whipped up in several ways. We saw this occur during the McCarthy era, when Joseph McCarthy, Senator from Wisconsin, seized upon the idea of Communists lurking among the American population, stoking the notions that ordinary citizens were infiltrating society in order to bring it down.

The fear that spread like a virus through the country tore apart lives but helped put notches on the belt of Roy Cohn and Richard Nixon, who later became President. In the late 17th century in Salem, Massachusetts, accusations of witchcraft ended the lives of several women. The sexual hysteria whipped up serves several functions: bind the group against a common enemy and project internal hostility and rage upon an outsider.

Unfortunately, it is probably difficult to actually be the outsider, the target on whose destruction the group depends. There are many methods utilized against the target: threats, attempts to discredit, or even driving her to the brink of sanity. On a continuous basis, day in and day out, the perpetrator cannot help but succeed, particularly if the group does not step in for fear of becoming tainted themselves.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Failed Actress, Demagogue, Finally Makes It To White House

So, you want Ayn Rand acolyte Paul Ryan a heart beat from the presidency?  Do you know anything about Ayn Rand, failed actress, screenwriter and cult leader who hated altruists yet took full advantage of Medicare while in U.S.?

Now that Bauman Rare Books is trumpeting her book "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal" and calling her one of "capitalism's most popular and influential philosopher at a mere cost of $3500, I think you should get ejjicated.  Remember the destruction of the middle-class's hope for weath: home equity, over the course of the W administration?  Remember those nasty mergers-and-acquisition guys who bought companies with debt then piled the debt on top of the companies they bought, not before taking a huge chunk of cash out of them, fired everyone and sold them off after they were squeezed dry?  Now no more m&a branding.  These vulture companies are now called private equity firms.  You know, like Bain Capital.

To jog your memory about how the 1% got so much and the rest were took for a ride, here's a piece I wrote back in 2007:

As America enters an unprecedented time of falling housing prices and widespread foreclosure, I found the article in The New York Times “Ayn Rand’s Literature of Capitalism” by Harriet Rubin (9/15/07) very interesting. 

According to the article, many business leaders, including Alan Greenspan, who is currently flogging his book, “The Age of Turbulence”, were strongly influenced by Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged.  Greenspan blamed everyone but himself for the credit crisis, although he was at the Fed’s helm when the interest rate was cut to 1% in 2003 and praised adjustable rate mortgages as most efficient. 

Wall Street decided to offer mortgages borrowers could not afford simply because they could repackage these loans into mortgage-backed securities and assert that they eliminated risk and pay high yields at the same time. 

Although many of these “packagers” such as Angelo Mozilo, the former CEO of Countrywide, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, protested that these methods allowed a greater pool of people to become homeowners, in actuality they were far more cynical.  On the Street subprime and other versions of mortgages were known as “liar loans” or NINJAs (no income, no job, no assets).  The Street divided up their mortgaged-backed securities into “tranches”, slices that they said spread the risk and therefore eliminated it.  But those in the know knew it was a scam because Streeters called the lowest rung tranche “toxic waste.”

Back to Rand.  These business leaders were greatly influenced by her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged.   Atlas Shrugged is the story of the prime movers of society going on strike because society doesn’t appreciate them; in fact, they are exploited and robbed of their dignity.  They refused to contribute their inventions, art, business leadership, scientific research or new ideas of any kind to the rest of the world. 

Society hampers them by interfering with their work and underpays them by confiscating the profits and dignity they have rightfully earned.  The peaceful cohesiveness of the world requires those individuals whose productive work comes from mental effort.  But feeling they have no alternative, they eventually start disappearing from the communities of “looters” and “moochers” who bleed them dry.  The strikers believe that they are crucial to a society that exploits them, and the near-total collapse of civilization triggered by their strike shows them to be correct.

Unfortunately, Atlas Shrugged reflects the mindset of many of those who helmed Wall Street institutions that are now extinct or swallowed up.  To regulate them is to “loot” or “mooch” off them, or as Sterling Hayden as Jack Ripper said in Dr. Strangelove, to steal their precious bodily fluids.  They are of a superior class; therefore they are entitled to play by different rules, all for the benefit of society.  I don’t think Rand even believed that self-interest had to be enlightened to benefit society; all the prime movers like Mozilo, Thain (Merrill Lynch), Blankfein (Goldman Sachs), Paulson (formerly Goldman Sachs, now sadly our Treasury Secretary) just have to be self-interested and somehow, voila! Wave an invisible hand and society benefits.  They took the gold; we the taxpayers take the dross, and none of them accepts responsibility or faces any kind of comeuppance.

I, too, was influenced by literature but not Ayn Rand.  She wrote stiff characters who spoke ridiculous dialogue and had romance-novel sex.  I suggest these business leaders try two other novels:

The Jungle (1906) by Upton Sinclair
The Jungle is the story of Lithuanian immigrants working in Chicago’s Union Stock Yards at the beginning of the 20th century.  It depicts a world of poverty, lack of social security or any sort of social contract, scandalous living and working conditions and generally utter hopelessness prevalent among the have-nots, contrasted with the deeply rooted corruption on the part of the haves.  The novel thrusts the existence of wage slavery into the face of the American public.  Wage slavery is a condition where a person must sell his or her labor power by submitting to the authority of an employer in order to subsist.

In The Jungle workers are shown falling into meat processing tanks and being ground, along with animal parts, into “Durham’s Pure Leaf Lard.”

The disgusting, fetid, filthy working conditions and exploitation of women and children depicted in the Jungle led to the passage of the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which in turn led to the Food and Drug Administration.

Another great novel:
Elmer Gantry (1927) by Sinclair Lewis
Elmer Gantry is the story of a young, arrogant, womanizing college athlete who, upon realizing the power, prestige and easy money that comes with being a preacher, pursues his “religious” ambitions with gusto, contributing to the downfall, even death, of key people around him as the years pass.  Although he continues to womanize, is often exposed as a fraud and frequently faces a complete downfall, Gantry is never fully discredited and always manages to emerge triumphant and reach ever greater heights of social status.  The novel ends as Reverend Gantry prays for the United States to be a “moral nation” and simultaneously ogles the legs of a new choir member.

Lewis researched the novel by, among other things, attending 2 or 3 religious services a week in Kansas City.  He immersed himself in the religious community.

After publication, the book was banned in Boston and a cleric suggested that Lewis be imprisoned for five years.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What would a Romney-Ryan presidency look like?

Vouchers galore.  $2,000 for a cancer operation.  Vouchers instead of direct payments from the government for Medicare with 2% administrative costs.  Turning over Social Security to the money men of Wall Street so they can earn a tidy profit gambling with our tax dollars.  Cognitive dissonance: let’s get rid of the post office despite cyberattacks and criminal internet behavior.  It’s going broke because for some reason it has to prepay its pension obligations 85% a year.  Why?  Ask Congress.  They don’t know either and they’re in charge.

Let the cool, pristine arms of technology dull our gaze and atomize us.  An internet provider costs money.  If you don’t have any, you lose the ability to communicate.  You drop out of the human race.

No more domestic programs.  No safety net, no food stamps, no Medicaid, no Head Start, no SNAP.  Sliding into poverty and homelessness, the better to die out and stop being a nuisance.

No jobs.  Just blame the victims for their “lack of education”.  They deserve to be obsolete.  It has nothing to do with the fact that America no longer has a manufacturing base or a strong labor movement.  We are a service economy, which pays very poorly and offers few benefits.

Without profligacy, there would be no sacrifice.  People are getting what they deserve—formerly middle class people eating out of dumpsters.  We, too, must be austere.  Tighten our belts.  We have to balance the budget on the backs of the less wealthy and hence less influential.  Even though money moves from the poorer to the wealthy (transfer of tax dollars to the private sector and VAT, sin taxes, the lottery—all of that takes a bigger bite out of those with less), which is truly redistribution of income, liberals are accused of redistribution all the time.

What happened to the middle-class version of wealth and security, housing?  It was gambled away in the sausage machine known as securitization and filed in a private system known as MERS.  MERS was set up and owned by the banks.  Simply by the nature of numbers (might makes right, saeth the judge) MERS eliminated the public function of the county clerk and cogent research of title change. 

That’s what’s known as “code is law”.  Entities swap over and over the mortgage-backed securities tucked into MERS until the titles for all the mortgages involved are clouded and ownership cannot be proven.  If you don’t have a clear title on your home, you don’t own it and you can’t sell it.  The black humor of this is that many people aren’t told and don’t realize their title is no good so they keep up mortgage payments on homes they might not even own.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Answer, NY Times: who is responsible for film?

According to the New York Times today, a man named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, was taken into custody by the Los Angeles sheriff's office for questioning regarding the inflammatory anti-Muslim film that has provoked violent responses as far as Germany.

It's interesting that the sheriff's office in LA should question this man, particularly since Adam Nagourney of the Times wrote a thorough story on September 12th on the person behind the film who was exceedingly proud of his handiwork:

Total credit goes to the reporter.  Sorry if I lifted too much but I'm wondering why Mr. Klein wasn't brought in if he (figuratively) yelled, "Fire!" in a crowded theater:

One of its main producers, Steve Klein, a Vietnam veteran whose son was severely wounded in Iraq, is notorious across California for his involvement with anti-Muslim actions, from the courts to schoolyards to a weekly show broadcast on Christian radio in the Middle East.

Yet as much of the world was denouncing the violence that had spread across the Middle East, Mr. Klein — an insurance salesman in Hemet, Calif., a small town two hours east of here — proclaimed the video a success at portraying what he has long argued was the infamy of the Muslim world, even as he chuckled at the film’s amateur production values.

“We have reached the people that we want to reach,” he said in an interview. “And I’m sure that out of the emotion that comes out of this, a small fraction of those people will come to understand just how violent Muhammad was, and also for the people who didn’t know that much about Islam. If you merely say anything that’s derogatory about Islam, then they immediately go to violence, which I’ve experienced.”

Mr. Klein has a long history of making controversial and erroneous claims about Islam. He said the film had been shown at a screening at a theater “100 yards or so” from Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood over the summer, drawing what he suggested was a depressingly small audience. He declined to specify what theater might have shown it, and theater owners in the vicinity of the busy strip said they had no record of any such showing.

The amateurish video opens with scenes of Egyptian security forces standing idle as Muslims pillage and burn the homes of Coptic Christians. Then it cuts to cartoonish scenes depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a child of uncertain parentage, a buffoon, a womanizer, a homosexual, a child molester and a greedy, bloodthirsty thug.

Even as Mr. Klein described his role in the film as incidental, James Horn, a friend who has worked with Mr. Klein in anti-Muslim activities for several years, said he believed Mr. Klein was involved in providing technical assistance to the film and advice on the script. Mr. Horn said he called Mr. Klein on Wednesday. “I said, ‘Steve, did you do this?’ He said, ‘Yep.’ ”

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Where's Waldo & Other Legal Strategies for the TBTF Banksters

Why do white-collar financial fraud types get away with it?  See if you can find the answer in my post. 

In the recent case the SEC v. Brian Stoker, Citigroup marketing dude or something, the jury found Brian not guilty.  The NY Times made a big deal about a note the jury wrote along with their "Not guilty, Citigroup!" verdict.  Something like, "Don't give up, SEC!  Keep at it even though we found in favor of the criminal enterprise."

Brian's crime was helping sell a $1 billion collateralized debt obligation (CDO) mortgage bond deal.  Citigroup was one of the leaders in structuring CDO deals, which basically consisted of worthless-to-the-nth-power paper dressed up in opaque luxury wrapping.  Regulators felt that:

Mr. Stoker, who prepared marketing materials [in other words, the prospectus that tells a customer what he/she is buying] for the deal, knew or should have known that he was deceiving investors by not disclosing that Citigroup helped pick the underlying mortgage bonds in the CDO and then bet that its value would decline.  When the housing market collapsed [which Citigroup was counting on], Citigroup's clients lost money while the bank made a bundle.

Stoker's lawyer, John W. Keker, had an ingenious defense, breathtaking in its simplicity.

Instead of getting into all the gobbledygook about securitization, subprime option ARM mortgages, liar loans, paid-off Triple A credit rating agencies, toxic waste repackaged as the aforementioned CDOs which everyone at Citigroup knew were worthless but sold it to its unsuspecting customers anyway while betting it would fail, Keker went in another direction entirely.

He showed the jury an illustration from the children's book, Where's Waldo?.  This illustration had lots and lots of characters in it and Waldo, too.  If you found Waldo (who I think had a red and white striped scarf) you won.  His lawyer compared Stoker to Waldo:

[R]eaders are challenged to find the hidden title character.  He likened his client to Waldo, suggesting that Mr. Stoker, 41, was a blip in Citigroup's vast CDO universe.

Travis Dawson, student at Baruch College, the biz school of the CUNY set, said that the Where's Waldo? allusion resonated.

So what's the moral of the story?  Explain financial fraud in terms of children's books exculpating your client (he's not the devious Cat In The Hat, he's the sweet-faced Linus in Peanuts) and you've got it made in the shade.  That is, if you even go to trial.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

God Bless Robocop America

California, home of Countrywide and long-dead crooked mortgage lenders, is going bankrupt.  The latest city teetering on the edge is Stockton.  The former agri-town, which grew with the housing bubble and died with its burst, is a portent of the future.  Since 2009, the city cut 25% of its police force, 30% of its firemen and over 40% of all other city employees.

Murders?  Up.  Burglaries?  Up.  So, whaddya do when there ain't no tax money left to protect the citizens?  Never fear--predatory capitalism will find a way.  Where there's a crisis, there's opportunity.  Sometimes the same guys behind the crisis are also behind the opportunity.  Those them fund the private security firms.

In the near future the myth of privatization will cover the country like a wet blanket, offering the illusion of safety.  The residents of Stockton have formed over 100 neighborhood watch groups.  According to the New York Times, homeowners associations, landlords and businesses are hiring "officers" for $18 to $25 an hour to do the work the city police used to do.  Opportunity is not just for the financial boys--it's a gold rush out there:

Delta Hawkeye Security Services, the largest private security company in the city, has seen an 80% increase in business since 2009, according to Ron Cancio, the company's manager.

I called Delta Hawkeye, (209) 957-3333, to inquire about employment and especially, training.  Spoke to Ron.  He asked me if I had a guard card.  (You gotta be kiddin'.  That's a 10-hour class, no questions asked.)  Did Delta offer any other training?  "None.  Not taser or pepper spray."

That surprised me, being as 19-year-old Darien Wilson, Delta officer, working the graveyard (no pun intended) shift in Stockton, is armed with a gun, pepper spray and a Taser.  He's happy as Jamie Dimon naked in his private bank vault:

"Not very many 19-year-olds can say they're armed and working security on the streets of one of the most dangerous cities in America," Mr. Wilson said.

Right next to the Stockton story is George Zimmerman and his interview on Sean Hannity last night.  Sean, bless his heart, walked George and his lawyer through their talking points with gentle kindness like he was Jerry Sandusky sweet-talkin' an orphan.

George was a member of a neighborhood watch who, you may recollect, shot an unarmed 17-year-old, Trayvon Martin, for the crime of bein' black in America.  After all, Trayvon was a-stayin' in the neighborhood that George was a-watchin. 

George, being a proactive kind of guy, decided against the advice of the "real" police dispatcher to cease following Trayvon and wait for the police.  He told Sean he had no remorse about the murder:

"It was all God's plan, and for me to second guess it or judge it."

God is speaking through the vigilantes.  Listen up!!!!

[Sorry about the fake dialect.  Too much FACE IN THE CROWD--Andy Griffith, you died for our sins.]

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Are We Not Brands?

In the current issue of The Atlantic, Michael J. Sandel, a political philosopher at Harvard, asks the question, "What Isn't For Sale?" (the article is from his book What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets).

He asks rhetorically, "What is the difference between a market economy and a market society?"  His answer:

The difference is this: A market economy is a tool--a valuable and effective tool--for organizing productive activity.  A market society is a way of life in which market values seep into every aspect of human endeavor.  It's a place where social relations are made over in the image of the market..
Here are my thoughts on the matter:

The ideology of the market economy, which I take to mean the free-market Chicago School market economy, where all that matters is a buyer, a seller, a price and a good or service, has permeated every aspect of our lives as citizens.  Public policy, the common good--all that has been monetized.

In a market economy, profit is all.  When every transaction has a price, everything becomes a commodity, quantifiable rather than qualitative.  No one questions the race to the bottom on labor costs.  It's only the disinterested market working its invisible hand.  Worth and value become measured in terms of largess.  It is internalized.  The wealthy believe the tautology; they are better than the rest because they have more money and they have more money because they are better than the rest.

Free market ideology is very simplistic.  It does not account for corporations sucking at the government teat in tax breaks or simply unlimited access to the Treasury window.  Aka corporate welfare.  What does "free market" mean when companies like Walmart pay their seasoned employees so little they have to go on government benefits to care for their kids?

Privatization is the catchword, preferable to government spending simply for its own sake, not by virtue of any credible proof of cost efficiencies.  Witness the CityTime scandal involving a contractor who was hired to modernize the NYC payroll system.  The company's budget ballooned from $73 million to over $700 million and the payroll system is still screwed up.  Let's see if CityTime pays the $500 million in penalties and restitution it owes the good citizens of NYC.

Medicare spends 2% of its government budget on administrative expenses whereas private health insurers pay upwards of 20% on their administrative expenditures and their shareholders benefit when the insurer pays out fewer claims.  In fact, there is a market metric based on how few claims private health insurers pay.  The fewer they pay, the higher the stock price.

There are many areas that bind our society together which exist to serve the people, not the profits.  Instead of mindlessly believing that market good, government bad, let's have an open discussion:

[T]o decide where the market belongs, and where it should be kept at a distance, we have to decide how to value the goods in question--health, education, family life, nature, art, civic duties, and so on.
The degradation of a market society is evident, especially at a time when human labor is commodified in a race to the bottom.  People turn themselves into "things" to survive:

Sell space on your forehead to display commercial advertising: $10,000.
A single mother in Utah who needed money for her son's education was paid $10,000 by an online casino to install a permanent tattoo of the casino's web address on her forehead.

Serve as a human guinea pig in a drug-safety trial for a pharmaceutical company: $7,500.
The pay can be higher or lower, depending on the invasiveness of the procedure used to test the drug's effect, [its potentially lethal effect] and the discomfort involved.

Stand in line overnight on Capitol Hill to hold a place for a lobbyist who wants to attend a congressional hearing: $15-20 an hour.  Lobbyists pay line-standing companies, who hire homeless people and others to queue up.

Even the hipster companies associated with South by Southwest paid homeless men $20 to become human wi-fi routers.  No one even notices the dehumanization.