Market Fundamentalists

This post which references this current ongoing globalization debate led me to this piece by Julian Sanchez which had the following argument that I found interesting:

This explanation is not totally satisfying, however. It may apply for someone like Frank, but folks like Stiglitz and American Prospect editor Robert Kuttner are too economically sophisticated to really believe what they write: that free-market advocates are just zealots without an argument. They, one suspects, just realized that this line would go over well with their less sophisticated readers. It seems to have worked. This effective rhetorical tactic allows somone like Kuttner to paint himself as the pragmatic voice of reason facing down foaming-at-the-mouth ideologues. Yet, when you read his columns, you find that despite his reasonable-sounding insistence that each sector be evaluated on a case by case basis, there's always grounds for intervention, and the government can always be trusted to find the optimal outcome that markets don't quite muster. Who's supposed to be working on blind faith, again?

Here, though, is that kernel of truth. If you are a good, reasonable empiricist, you will always find what seems like a reason to intervene, to make a "tiny correction" in each individual case. That's because, as Hayek realized long ago, the real case for freedom lies in the fact that we don't know how it will be used. Freedom will always be eroded if we allow ourselves to "correct" piece by piece; so Hayek saw the value of a, yes, "dogmatic" adherence to a principle of open markets.

I admit that I haven't read anything by Hayek (but I do read PrestoPundit, which sort of counts), and I haven't really heard this argument phrased this way before. I'll have to chew on this awhile and see what I think…