Freeing the free markets

The weird thing is, I believe in the “free market.” I believe that removing consequences for bad behavior encourages that behavior. I don’t believe “inequality” per se, is a bad thing, as long as we ensure opportunity. In short, I am a conservative.

From about 1965.

Of course government is inefficient. The sky is blue. But government’s role is not to be efficient. Government needs to be the referee, mark the playing field, protect free markets and provide services under the law that we would not entrust to our neighbors without guidelines, or that need to be done to avoid loss of our humanity.

But we don’t have “free markets,” we have market manipulation by oligopolists who collude with corrupt politicians and fight transparency.

The only folks facing consequences are the poor—the leaders of Goldman Sachs, ATT, and Pfizer don’t face consequences for their greed, regardless of the damage they do to our country.

Ownership of our money by big banks has caused irreparable harm, first in the Great Depression, which was followed by bank laws, then in the Great Recession that followed repeal of those same laws. Some of those working in the largest banks hurt far more people than John Dillinger. Increase capital requirements, so they face the consequences of their failure, or break ’em up, so if they fail, it is shareholders and not farmers and teachers and gas station workers who are out of a job.

There should be vigorous price competition between cell phone networks. No, there’s not. We need to make sure that no one company or four companies can grab all of our radio spectrum, nor limit our choice of phones, nor throttle in any way our access to the Internet. The ‘Net is now too important, and every citizen should have a wide-open pipe, buying what they want, paying for what they use.

There should be vigorous market competition in the drug industry. It should be illegal for one company to pay another, in collusion, to keep generics off the market. Patent law should be changed so that new generics are available much, much more quickly. Consumers should have the right to buy their drugs from wherever they please. Drug prices, and hospital equipment prices, should be published, not hidden. The market needs information to operate efficiently.

Corporations are not people. If a corporation has broken the law, someone in that corporation did the breaking. They should do time if they did harm. It’s not just marijuana users who are a threat to society. In fact, I don’t think pot smokers are any threat at all, and we should leave them alone to face the consequences of their behavior.

But maybe that’s just me, being a conservative.

About Erik Dolson

Erik Dolson is a writer living in Oregon
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