Dec 10 2008

Pro-business isn’t the same thing as “free market”

Category: capitalism,economy,governmentharmonicminer @ 9:00 am

An article by Eric-Charles Banfield, from 1995, on Business–Government Collusion

Back when first cutting my teeth on the concepts of free-market economics, I was impressed by the argument that business firms have to satisfy their customers to survive. Firms have strong, natural disincentives against performing poorly or acting immorally because they would risk losing customers and going out of business. For some time thereafter, I defended “business” on those grounds. Business is not an evil, I argued; indeed, businesses are almost “slaves” to the shifting and elusive passions of the sovereign consumer.

But over the years, I found myself forced to refine my views regarding business firms. Three lessons stand out. First, being “pro-business” is not the same as being “free-market.” Second, regulation, which presumably works “against” business, goes hand-in-hand with special privileges and artificial protections “for” business. Third, the phenomenon of active and routine collusion between business and government made the business world seem less than the pure and benevolent social agent I once perceived. In short, I began to recognize that the concept of “the corporate welfare state” goes a long way to describe some of the problems we observe in the complex nexus between the market sector and the government sector. All too often, businesses lobby government for special privileges they would not have in a true, free market.

Read it all. We haven’t had “free market” capitalism in this country for a long time, if we ever did, as is made clear here.  If we ever do get it, we won’t just rent the world with option to buy, as we do now, we’ll own it.

As it is, this 13 year old article is disturbingly relevant today.

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Sep 30 2008

The Sky Is Falling, The Sky Is Falling!

Category: capitalism,Congress,constitution,economy,housing,liberty,politicsamuzikman @ 9:41 am

Once upon a time….

Be it myth, legend, tale or fable we all know these four words and understand them to be a preamble to the telling of a make-believe story (though possibly based on fact).  Such stories serve many purposes, not the least of which is to teach an object lesson to the very young, a meaningful and memorable way to instruct children about great and noble virtues such as loyalty, honor, courage and truth.

Chicken Little is one such story. The diminuitive foul who determines Armageddon is at hand after being struck on the head by an acorn.  The story proceeds with Chicken Little determining the best course of action is to tell the king whereupon a journey commences and various encounters with other creatures ensue.  Depending on which version of the story is told, a final encounter with a deceitful fox who manipulates the circumstances brings about a close call or bad ending to the story.

I find several interesting parallels to current events.

Continue reading “The Sky Is Falling, The Sky Is Falling!”

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Jul 09 2008

“Unaccountable Corporations”, or “Unaccountable Government”?

Category: capitalism,corporations,corruption,economyharmonicminer @ 12:00 pm

It’s popular on the Left to bash corporations, and, by extension, capitalism, for just about every evil under the sun. When you dig a little deeper into most corporate abuses (the really big ones, that is), you tend to find that the real problem was government, which is the only way corporations can get enough power to do really bad things. Regulations, set-asides, sweetheart deals, mandated monopolies (it isn’t a monopoly if the government gives it to you), etc., are only possible when government sticks out its hand to corporations and says, “If you pay me now, I’ll pay you later.” True capitalism, which does NOT include giveaways by government to large corporations (or anyone else) would not include things like this.

Continue reading ““Unaccountable Corporations”, or “Unaccountable Government”?”

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