Back in those sweet, sweet college days, a small group of friends came up with a category of people we weren't terribly fond of.* We called 'em "parade rainers," and their crimes against our sensibilities typically took the form of finding something negative to say about, some set of caveats to offer concerning, some form of doubt or discounting to apply to somebody else's success. It was conduct unbecoming, we thought, and, preferring sun to clouds (in particular given our pacific northwest whereabouts), we didn't like to see negative energy crowding out the positive.
Those basic preferences still apply, but the fact is that not all parades are created equal. Many are richly deserved, serving to encourage and reinforce whatever good behavior combines with good luck to produce good outcomes. But some reflect more good luck than good behavior, and can actually reinforce bad behavior that appears (to almost everyone!) to correlate with good outcomes.
With that as a semi-philosophical backdrop, please read this, Justin Lahart's description of one observer who rained--not obnoxiously, but wisely--on a very big parade thrown for Alan Greenspan in 2005. (A free summary version of Lahart's account is available here.)
The key substantive point in Lahart's piece is that free market absolutism makes no more sense than other forms of dogmatic ideology. That's not to say that markets don't make more sense than other forms of economic organization. We certainly think they do, and we think whatever finishes second in that race finishes a very distant second indeed. But the totalizing ideology of markets, which tends to rise up just as market mechanisms are about to break down, tends to leave some serious--and, what's worse, unnecessary--destruction in its wake.
The ultimate irony here is that those best suited to defend markets are those most attuned to their limits and periodic failures.
* Yep. That sentence ends in a preposition. We're over it. Many grammatical rules exist for good reason, and we'll defend those that do until last we type. But the no-preposition-at-the-end-of-a-sentence rule serves no identifiable purpose, does nothing to favor clear communication over muddled, and deserves polite but firm relegation to the dustbin of linguistic history.
Justin Lahart, "Mr. Rajan Was Unpopular (But Prescient) at Greenspan Party," Wall Street Journal, January 2, 2009