Regular readers of ACC are aware of the current battle surrounding the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. We believe, along with many others, that Ex-Im is great example of crony capitalism which should be euthanized by a Congress which professes to be for free markets and small government. Whether this will actually happen is an open question however as the bank serves some of the heaviest hitters in corporate America, Boeing chief among them.
But for some, including the author of the attached article, the question is why even have this battle at all? Is cronyism really so bad? So what’s a little a public/partnership action? Who are these nuts anyway who want a separation of government and business. Free markets and economic freedom stink anyway.
We’ve documented why Ex-Im is bad from more than just a moral perspective. Taxpayer backed loans to one corporation often disadvantage other businesses. Free markets allow for opportunity and growth. Crony capitalism strangles growth and enriches established firms which get fat, inefficient, and tend to be slower to respond to the customer.
Still some still don’t get it. Jeff Spross at The Week clearly doesn’t.
Check out this passage where he argues that “Republicans” have no economic solutions for everyday people. Please note the 20th Century mindset which lumps anyone who isn’t a “Democrat” (Presumably the author identifies as one.) as a “Republican.” Sure he’s talking about Congress but he’s really speaking abstract terms.
There is a huge range of issues on which policymakers could offer solutions and aid, such as extending access to health care, combating stagnant wages, and creating jobs. But these are all also areas where conservative ideology prevents Republicans from offering any policies that actually address the struggles of everyday workers.
Rather than being a sign the GOP may finally figure out a way to meet that need, the Ex-Im Bank fight is a sign it almost certainly won’t. Because crony capitalism in this fight is a purely abstract offense, and free market principles are a purely abstract goal. It’s not a battle to make our economy actually improve human welfare. It’s a battle to make our economy cohere more closely with some set of free-floating aesthetic preferences. It treats capitalism as a sport, and the Ex-Im Bank’s opponents are pissed because they think the refs aren’t playing fair.
And what is this “conservative” ideology of which he writes? Is he referring to those who are actually classical liberals? People who believe in free prices and dynamism in the economy? It appears that he does. Another example of the writer being behind the times.
As for solutions which can help everyday people it is pretty much only the free marketeers, the enemies of Ex-Im specifically and crony capitalism generally who appear to have any workable solutions which will address the economic concerns of everyday people. Mr Spross – who we assume is a professional journalist – isn’t paying very much attention. The “Great Recession” lingers for many because government is strangling the economy.
It is by freeing the economy of the straight jacket it is in that people will find greater access to actual healthcare, and which will drive the cost of healthcare down. (I just saw a bill for a $2700 MRI. It ain’t the free market which is driving this cost. It is red tape and regs.)
You want to get wages to move? Then make them freer. Let the market reward hard and skilled work and entrepreneurs. Make it easier to start businesses. Get rid of occupational licensing laws which exist only to keep people from entering a particular market.
As for the “free market” being abstract, it isn’t. Get government out of the way. Let the market find its natural level. Boom. The free market. Not too tough.
This country will remain mired in the muck so long as a significant number of people making economic policy still adhere to the outdated views Mr. Spross does.
You guys had your shot. Your policies are crushing America. Now do the decent thing and get out of the way of people who have actual ideas.