The time has come for us to stop with the constant bashing of the concept of a free market by using the current status of the United States market as an example of its failings. While I will freely admit that the US market is one of the more free markets in the world (#5 according to the study shared the other day), to claim that this is a free market is naive at best and reprehensibly dishonest at worst. The reality is that the inequity in America, the faults of the American markets, and the examples thrown up as “proof” of free-market failure all have a single thing in common…
It is the intrusion of the government at all levels, federal, state, and local, that has perverted the concept of the free market and caused the failures that are subsequently blamed on the free market. Of course, those who rally against the free market conveniently attempt to dismiss these inconvenient truths, and understandably so. To admit to the reality of what has happened would be to admit that government intrusion into the market has catastrophic consequences. And that doesn’t set the table well for making the case for more government intervention.
I understand that there is some overwhelming belief that the corporations in America “own” the federal government. I think that it is more nuanced than that and thus not true in the sense that it is claimed. Corporations don’t own government. They own politicians. The laws and regulations are exactly what the politicians make them to be, so corporations spend ridiculous amounts of money to ensure that they own the politicians who make the law. But let us not forget that the corporation would not exist were it not for the writ of government.
And like it or not, the reality is that the problem is not that the corporations do what they do, the problem is that our government’s politicians are in their pocket. The problem is the politicians, not the businesses of America. What power would the corporations have if the politicians weren’t for sale? None. But I digress.
The point is that the government has gone over the top in inserting itself into the world of business. Massive amounts of regulation have become what the country is known for in the world of business. While there are certainly countries out there that have some draconian laws in their business cultures, few can equal the US in terms of the sheer volume of legislation. And the result of that volume is increased costs in a major way.
Are some of the regulations necessary. I imagine a good case can be made for answering that question in the affirmative. After all, the child labor issues and working conditions a hundred years ago certainly screamed out for someone to create some form of punishment for failing to maintain an ethical and safe working environment. However, we all know that the level of regulation and control the government wields is far more than over these areas. Not to mention these past indiscretions are used as the argument for both government intervention AND increased union power. Which is it? Why are the unions needed with so much government intervention? Or conversely, why is so much government intervention needed when unions are there to protect the workers? But I digress into pointing out the weakness of those arguments again….
Americans have fallen to relying on government to do everything in the world of business. They have abdicated any personal responsibility. The American consumer has fallen into the familiar laziness around economic decisions that they exercise around social decisions. Rather than do their research on who they buy from or what they are buying, they appeal to government to do it for them. Rather than using the power of choice to control the market, which does work, they instead whine to the government to force businesses to operate in a dictated way.
A perfect example of this was the Credit Card Act of 2009. This bi-partisan legislation was a massive set of dictated rules for companies that issue credit cards. I could sit and list out all the alterations and new rules set forth in this bill, but I won’t. If you want to get a better understanding of the bill, you can view it by clicking HERE . The bottom line for me is that consumers had a choice in how to deal with these types of issues. They could refuse to do business with credit card companies that did business in these foul ways. But they didn’t. They instead chose to attempt to force companies to do business in a certain way by pushing the government into the equation.
And they do so because they are lazy and undisciplined. Using the power of the consumer is difficult. The consumer is forced to work at it. They are further forced to exercise fiscal discipline and actually live within their means. Rather than revert to a stance of saving for what they want and operating on a tight budget, they demand that credit be extended to them on their terms rather than the terms of the credit extender. I would rather there was a vote that ended the existence of credit cards altogether than the abomination of over-reaching government that we have now.
The point of all this is that the fact is that we have not operated under a “free market” for a very long time. Despite the plethora of examples that those who eschew a free market attempt to use, the reality is that those things happened under a mixed economy that has always had government intrusion and thus never operated as free. Enron, Worldcom, and the like would not have happened in a free market. They could only happen in the economy we have where government enabled those companies to do what they did.
So I offer up a deal, I will concede that the free market may not solve all the problems of the market, as I am well aware that there are still things that may be difficult to control or stop in the market as it exists today. In exchange, can all you who seem to have a phobia of any aspect of America without government involvement stop attempting to claim that the free market has failed? It hasn’t failed. It hasn’t existed. You cannot claim BF is crazy for his belief that a world without government is possible while simultaneously living in a fantasyland where you claim a history that never existed.
For the record, and a record that anyone who actually has paid attention to what I write instead of making up their own version of what I write (you know who you are), I have never advocated for zero government. I have never claimed that this is something that would work. Neither has JAC, for those that pay attention. What we have advocated for is a drastically reduced involvement of government in our lives. Very Damn Little Government, to be exact. And I maintain that it has and will work.
Because for all those who want big government and massive regulations… At what point are you able to take off the blinders long enough to see that your version of what America should be has absolutely proven catastrophic, both to our economy and to our liberty?
The government’s only proper job is to protect individual rights against violence by force or fraud …
to protect men from foreign invaders …
to settle disputes among men according to objective laws …
The greatness of the Founding Fathers was how well they understood this issue and how close some of them came to understanding it perfectly.