Foxes in the Henhouse
When you talk to most conservatives they are for small government. The basic notion is that the more government regulates the less the free market works. To some degree this is true. Liberals may not like it but it is in fact true. Regulation does hamper the free market. What is also true is that a completely free capitalist market becomes overrun by the powerful elite caring about their own interests first and the national interest only as it pertains to their interests. This does not fit in well with the ideals of a free democracy that guarantees equal opportunity to all. In a global economy it can also be disastrous to nations that have either limited resources to trade or who put their workers before the interests of big business.
In a sense the idea of a truly free capitalist market in a representative democracy is not tenable. Capitalists by their very nature are focused on the good of the few over the good of the many. Capitalism is not just about the accumulation of wealth to meet the necessities of life. It is about the accumulation of wealth and power within the system to control the system for oneís own benefit. Capitalism is founded on the principle of personal over group achievement. It is dependent on winners and losers and the losers being beholden to the winners who hold the power and dictate the rules. It sets a standard by which there cannot be equal opportunity to succeed because it requires an underclass and an upper class with a working class continuously striving to achieve the level of upper class while in fear of becoming part of the underclass.
When you look at the goals of capitalism at its core it becomes clear that if there is to be equal opportunities for success, government must work to level the playing field to some degree. Things such as antitrust laws are necessary to keep small groups of people from monopolizing business until there is no opportunity for anyone other than those born into privilege. Regulation also allows government to reign in those who would use the need for goods and services to bankrupt those who need those goods or services in order to survive. For those reasons procedural guarantees of equality when it comes to opportunity are necessary. The American constitution was written taking some of these things into account and allows for the legislative branch to pass laws limiting the powers of individuals and organizations within our nation. Even our founding fathers, businessmen all, saw the potential dangers of unchecked personal power.
Proponents of deregulation point out that if there are too many regulations then businesses will be unable to make a profit and therefore will be forced to downsize or outsource putting Americans out of work. This is also true to some degree. Regulation should not be written to completely stifle the competitive market because it will lead to a collapse of business taking with it the overall economy. On the flip side, a lack of regulation fails to protect the citizenry from the greedy and unscrupulous within business. Things like the savings and loan and the Enron collapses provide clear reasons why regulation is needed and what can happen when legislators fail to act to protect those for whom they serve.
The question becomes at what level do we need regulation and what should that regulation look like? To answer that it requires that we detach ourselves from our personal interests and look at the greater whole of society both in the short term and the long term. Business operates in five year cycles while individuals must plan long term if they are to have a long and prosperous life. To create a balance between the short term needs of business and the long term needs of society legislators need to make laws to both provide for protecting individual well-being and promoting the fiscal health of business. The symbiotic relationship between business and individuals must also be considered when making legislative decisions. Without business individuals have no means of providing for themselves in a capitalist economy and without customers buying their goods or services business withers and dies.
So how do we find a balance between the needs of the people and the desires of business to make a profit? The simple answer is that there is no simple answer. With issues such as global warming looming in the background our legislators today have to look to the future in a different way than even a few years ago. It can no longer be simply a debate about profits versus workers or customers. Now the debate must include considerations of the long term inhabitability of the planet we live on. This means that now our legislators must not only be concerned with the businesses in America that they regulate but with the international trading partners with America and their impact on the environment and American jobs.
While the politicians will often try to give snappy sound bites to placate the audience the problems are not simple ones and canít be fixed with one-liners. We cannot afford to be led astray any longer as a nation. Big business has shown repeatedly that left to their own devices they will put profits over people and that they will not hesitate to move to greener pastures if allowed to do so regardless of the cost to the American people. They are without question the foxes and the majority of the people of America are the ones living in the henhouse. The foxes are also a necessary evil in our society. Since we are a capitalist based economy we need to make sure that the market functions in order to provide a means of fiscal support for our people. We need sensible laws that promote business growth at a moderate level while protecting the people from the callous disregard for others that power and money can often instill.
So when you hear politicians talking about smaller government, look at who their donors are and ask yourself if those who support them support your ideals as well. When you pull out of the gas station a hundred dollars poorer than you were when you got there, ask yourself if you think the oil companiesí record profits might not need to be reigned in to protect you from price gouging or if they really need billions in annual tax exemptions to keep functioning while you struggle to buy gas and have to choose between rent or food this week. Ask yourself if someone making a million dollars a year should pay less in actual taxes than you do because they can afford to hire accountants and tax lawyers to find every loophole and dodge the legislators have given them in the tax code. Regulation is supposed to be for protecting us and keeping evil people from doing evil things. While not always the case, sometimes government intruding into the free market is a good thing that should be supported and applauded.
The Realist - Patriot at Large | Give your feedback on this article. | Click icon to Digg this article
Do you sit and yell at the TV when politicians come on? Do you shake your head sadly whenever you see a homeless veteran? Is that all you tend to do?
It's time to put up or shut up America. We all love to talk about how we could do things better or how we would do it if we were in charge. Well, it's time to put your money where your mouth is. If you can think of it, you can write it down. If you can write it down, you can type it. If you can type it, you can e-mail it and if you can e-mail it, you can send it here.
We at Reform America are committed to giving voice to anyone who wants to put their ideas out there to make our nation a better place. As the readership grows, we are able to take those views to a wider and wider audience. Grassroots campaigns begin with voices speaking out. You have opinions. Voice them. We aren't about conservative or liberal. We aren't about pro-this or anti-that. We're about Americans and the First Amendment. Reform America is about politics by, for and of the people. You are the people. You only need to speak up. America is listening. Send your article to: firstname.lastname@example.org