Stopping crony capitalism in its tracks

| July 22 2012
Christopher Cook

If you don’t like big business getting favors . . . great! Neither do I. But who is to blame?

Big business has to protect itself. If big government is regulating and controlling everything under the sun . . . and if government is passing out favors left and right . . . then businesses are going to get involved. They’re going to get in the game to help write the regulations to their own benefit, and they’re going to get in line for the favors. They’re going to do all they can to protect and advance their interests. 

The one place where occupiers, tea partiers, libertarians, and populist independents all overlap is on a dislike for big businesses being treated differently by government. We don’t like them being given special status and advantages. It’s simply unequal and unfair. Here’s the thing, though: As long as government takes it upon itself to regulate the economy and dole out favors, this situation is inevitable.

It’s not fair to blame the businesses—they’re operating in an environment where an external force more powerful than themselves is picking winners and losers. OF COURSE they’re going to get in the game and try to lobby their own case. The alternative is to sit back and have the rules written against them—to sit back and let government pick some other business to be the winner. The only solution is to make it so that government does not pick winners and losers, does very little regulating, and doesn’t pass out favors. If we make it so that government doesn’t do much at all in the economic arena, we instantly destroy crony capitalism.

Then, when a business lobbyist goes to a politician, either with hat in hand or dangling a wad of campaign cash, the politician will have to say, “Sorry, I’d love to help you/take your donation, but honestly, there’s nothing I can really do for you. Government just isn’t involved in that.”

This argument is already well-known to most tea partiers and libertarians. Some populist independents will be open to it. Others, and certainly occupier-types, will recoil at the notion that government regulation and control should be reduced, as they have convinced themselves that only government regulation and control can “save” us from big, evil corporations. But, like a toddler clinging to his pacifier when his parents finally go to retire it, it’s time to give that notion up. A government that tries to heavily regulate the economy ends up harming the economy, and creating crony capitalism in the process. A government that tries to control everything eventually kills the economy completely, and the nation collapses, as every totalitarian communist government has either discovered (USSR, e.g.), is in the process of discovering (Cuba, e.g.), or is in the process of avoiding (China, e.g.).

If you want to eliminate unfairness, there is only one solution. A free, largely unregulated market. Yes, some people and businesses will do better than others. But when they do, it will be because of their own merits, and their own merits alone. No special favors. No grants of gobs of taxpayer money. No regulations that the big boys can afford but that kill their smaller competition. No bailouts. No exchanges of special goodies in exchange for campaign cash. Just a level playing field, with everyone getting a equal chance.

Now doesn’t that sound nice?

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