Thursday, July 12, 2012

Insurmountable problems with the progressive view of business and markets

Mark Steyn picks up on an AP "news" "report" that says of Republicans:
They and their ideological leaders argue that the marketplace should dictate what businesses thrive and falter, not Washington.
Commenter, "Lawrence" had this to say:
Implicitly, progressives believe the precise opposite.
Conservatives and progressives both accept that some businesses will succeed and some businesses will fail.
Progressives believe that the government should pick the winners and losers.
Conservatives believe that the free market should pick the winners and losers.
It's not about preventing failed businesses; for progressives it's about control. As Orwell put it describing the totalitarian impulse, they want to "usher in a hierarchical society where the intellectual can at last get his hands on the whip."
Those who believe that the government should have such control ignore several insurmountable problems.
- The problem of morality. Individuals have the right to self-determination and the right to property, and therefore the government has no moral authority to micro-manage their lives or their businesses.
- The problem of information. A cadre of experts may be smarter than any similarly sized group, but NO group can ever obtain the vast amount of distributed information that is processed by the price system, much less act on that information in an intelligent and timely fashion.
- The problem of incentives. The free market rewards businesses that provide goods and services that people actually want, and the greatest success is reserved for those that provide what the public sees as the best combination of high quality and low prices. The government rewards businesses that help the incumbents secure reelection, and it's only a coincidence that this work to maintain political power ever corresponds to meeting the real needs of the general public.
- The problem of the historical record. NO society in human history has ever taxed itself -- or regulated itself -- into prosperity. Even the authoritarian regime of the Chinese Communists have stumbled into modernity by freeing up the market, not through yet another disastrous and murderous Five Year Plan.
The ONLY thing that recommends collusion between Big Government and Big Business is the psychological appeal: it reassures the leftist of the high-mindedness of his oh-so-good intentions while feeding the more reptilian desire for control of other people.
Excellent comment!

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