Liberty Commentary

Romney and Obama Agree: Power Is Good

Under corporatist bipartisanship, the people lose.

by Sheldon Richman, Reason

So the presidential campaign is shaping up as a contest between a Democrat who says we had a free market from 2001 through 2008 and a Republican who . . . agrees—he says “[w]e are only inches away from ceasing to be a free market economy.” You can’t cease to be something you never were.

Thus Barack Obama claims and Mitt Romneyimplicitly concedes that the free market 1) has existed and 2) therefore presumably created the housing and financial debacle. This bodes ill for advocates of liberty and voluntary exchange.

Notice what will happen if this framing is widely accepted: Genuinely freed markets won’t make the list of feasible options. That will leave us with mere variations on a statist theme, namely, corporatism. How will voters choose among them? Most of those who abhor “socialism” (however they define it) will rally round Republican corporatism because of the pro-market rhetoric, while most who abhor the cruel “free market” (“Look at the hardship it created!”) will rush to Democratic corporatism because of its anti-market rhetoric.

And the winner will be: Corporatism. (That is, the use of government force primarily to benefit the well-connected business elite.) The loser? The people, who would benefit from freedom and freed markets—markets void of privileges and arbitrary decrees. That’s what maximizes consumer and worker bargaining power and enhances general living standards.

No Fundamental Difference

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