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Ed Miller The Patriot Corner: Why should we support a free-market economy?

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Ed Miller

Ed Miller

“The unions, the city management and the council all have an understanding of this item, but nobody else does. Frankly, this proposal should have seen the light of day via a public hearing, instead of appearing to be slipped under the radar.”

Ed Miller, Citizens In Action

“They say they’re going to be trans- parent then they’re not. Short of running for office myself, I don’t know how to get them to change other than have people stand up and be counted.”

Posted: Monday, June 4, 2012 12:00 am

The third and last belief tenet of the Tea Party Group of Lodi is that we support the free-market economy.

Why is this important? In a nutshell, personal freedom and economic freedom are inseparable. Lose one, you lose the other. For example, locally, the free market and economic freedom are being constrained by the proposed winery moratorium on local wineries holding events. These events are important to wineries because they attract customers to their brand. The proposed moratorium severely limits the events a new winery can host, stifling competition and the opening of new wineries. In other words, the government is picking winners and losers.

Liberals will agree that fairness is important. How fair is it to destroy someone's labors and investments by a change in the rules via government intervention? Is this not tyranny? Sure, as usual, the government's excuse is "the common good." In this case, the alleged problems are noise, parking, traffic, etc. The county already has laws on the books for these purposes, so why not enforce them? If they lack the enforcement resources, fix that problem. No, this moratorium is about stifling competition and controlling what people do with their private property.

This brings us back to the subject of "crony capitalism" that we have mentioned in previous columns. That is when government controls the marketplace and businesses provide the political funding to receive favorable government treatment to the exclusion of competitors. Crony capitalism operates obviously in opposition to the free-market economy by selecting products and businesses that will be allowed to succeed and, thus, the products and services we are allowed to select from. We are forced to buy higher-cost, lower-quality products and services. As individuals and businesses lose control of their marketplace choices to the government, all of us lose more and more of our freedom while the government's power grows.

So, what about bad behavior in the marketplace? How is that to be limited? First off, by the consumer. Bad products and services die a natural death because they are of poor quality. Meanwhile, the overall market benefits because cost decreases and quality increases. Similarly, businesses that make bad decisions will pay the consequences.

All this is assuming, of course, that the government does not intervene. Case in point: Consider all the "too big to fail" bailouts in 2008 heralded by both the Democrats and Republicans as something we just had to do. GM and Chrysler both made corporate business decisions that yielded business models that were not competitive with "right-to-work state" competitors, i.e. their labor costs were too high. But instead of letting the constitutionally appropriate bankruptcy laws remedy the problem, the government bailed them out while leaving the underlying root cause unchanged. Besides deepening our national debt, GM and Chrysler may well fail again as a result.

Similarly, the underlying root cause of the current economic downturn was the government's intervention in the housing loan industry when it required unaffordable loans to be approved, creating the so-called "housing bubble." The loan industry then tried to hedge the bad loans which corrupted the finance markets, and the whole system collapsed. Government intervention before and after has cost us trillions of dollars because it eliminated the free market's ability to self-regulate. People have lost their jobs, homes and retirements as a result.

In conclusion, the free-market economy is the most successful system ever devised, and has driven and preserved the prosperity of this country and its corresponding liberties. However, it cannot function in an environment of growing government tinkering and regulation.

Find out more by attending the Lodi Tea Party general meeting on Monday, June 25 at 6:30 p.m. in the United Congregational Christian Church, 701 S. Hutchins St., Lodi.

Ed Miller is an active member of the Lodi Tea Party.

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