Wait. What the hell are we smoking here at Happycrow’s Eyeball Factory?
That’s some good shit, right?
Well, actually, we’re not high. And we do mean it.
Free Market Capitalism is Inherently Progressive. The Regulatory State is Inherently Regressive.
Remember a week ago we said that Progressives and Libertarians should be allies? Well, this is why. At our best, both camps fight a long, slow, tooth-and-nail campaign against the Elites who institute policies seemingly designed to exploit and impoverish all who are not the wealthiest, best-connected, and most powerful.
We don’t really have a free-market economy. We have a heavily-regulated one.
Now, the caveat: so long as we have public property, we must have regulations.
So long as we wish to avoid certain kinds of exploitation, we must have regulations. Two easy examples:
1. The Free Market cannot handle public property well, and thus has a very hard time handling pollution issues. So long as we keep up “public property” which nobody owns and can therefore protect legally on their own, environmental regulations are required.
2. Worker’s Comp issues are very, very real.
But these regulations must be few, far between, and light in scope. Otherwise, the hands which are meant to help, strangle instead. Even the two above examples can and have been “weaponized,” because Elites don’t think of laws as rules. Elites think of laws as tools. And not surprisingly, they wield those tools for their own benefit.
Ever notice that the really big environmental advocates in the political class tend to be married to big-time real-estate developers? That’s not an accident. Limiting growth also makes currently-existing developed property more valuable. A LOT more valuable. Every time you hear some politician spouting off about keeping sprawl at bay… follow the money. Chances are, a little chime is singing “cha-ching!” with every new law.
So let’s take this one as it comes.
The Free Market doesn’t do these things. Because by definition, it cannot compel. So a balance needs to be struck. That said, Progressives should understand that they are already champions of the free market. They just… don’t seem to know it yet.
1. Free Markets cannot compel use of services or products. In a free market, you can get a ride on Uber, or a competitor to Uber. You can rent a room with AirBnB, not a statutorily-acceptable, highly-regulated, and therefore more-expensive hotel room.
2. A free market doesn’t allow monopolies. The regulatory state may give a single phone, cable, and internet company a monopoly in an area. Free enterprise gives you choices, and works to undermine monopolies whenever possible. The monopolies fight back by getting politicians to write vast swarms of regulations that are so complex that only big companies and the elites who control them can afford to play the game.
3. The free market does not make innovating illegal. A bewildering amount of regulatory law exists for the sole purpose of using “Safety” as a club with which to make it nearly impossible to come into an industry and try to come up with less expensive ways of doing things. The Construction industry is one of the worst for this. Construction industry meetings all start with safety, and all end with hours of thinking about how to force out competitors from entering into the business.
4. The Free Market doesn’t give a crap who you are. Illegal immigrant? Teen with an awesome idea? It doesn’t care. It cares only about whether the idea is good, and is willing to give that idea a shot at failing or succeeding.
5. The Free Market expands opportunity, and eliminates barriers to entry. Gigantic well-connected, politically powerful too-big-to-fail elite banking behemoth won’t lend you the money you need to start up some really cool idea? Maybe even an idea that’ll never really repay an investor, but which everybody with a soul can look at and say “that’s a really good idea, we should find some way to fund that?”
6. The Free Market is all about cooperation, not just competition. And it mandates that those who want to provide a solution, service, or product keep close to the people they serve. If they don’t…. they’re gone.
Libertarians and Progressives will disagree about how much regulation is needed, and where, and when, and why a given piece of regulation should be repealed. That’s natural. Progressives use the state and are willing to compel behavior; libertarians aren’t. But make no mistake: where the free market is concerned, we’re reading from the exact same page.
Both groups are all about discovering the best ways for us to serve one another.