Steve Forbes reviewed Barack Obama’s article in The Economist in which Obama said, “capitalism has been the greatest driver of prosperity and opportunity the world has ever known.” Yes, Obama said that. But Forbes looks past that window dressing, or what he correctly identifies as “Obama’s trademark disingenuousness”:
Yet as President of the U.S., the bastion of free enterprise, he has successfully pursued a socialist agenda that has Karl Marx applauding from the grave.
Smart socialists years ago recognized that government doesn’t need to seize “the means of production” to control the economy. Instituting sweeping and intrusive rules and regulations that make the survival of whole industries and companies dependent on the whims of government bureaucrats is sufficient.
The proper name for this is fascism, though Forbes doesn’t use the term (undiluted fascism also entails one-party rule, censorship, political imprisonment, etc., which invariably follows from economic control). Forbes then exposes the extensive array of additional controls Obama has foisted on private enterprise. It’s an excellent article. I have one thing to add. Once again quoting from the Economist article, Forbes writes:
Obama’s real feelings about free markets come through: “Economists have long recognized that markets, left to their own devices, can fail. This can happen through the tendency toward monopoly and rent-seeking. … More fundamentally, a capitalism shaped by the few and unaccountable to the many is a threat to all.”
Forbes correctly replies, “Free markets don’t fail. Bad government policies fail.” But I think he misses a crucial point.
“Rent-seeking” is an economic term which means government favor-seeking by private enterprise, whether to advance one’s own economic advantage or stifle competitors. Rent-seeking is only possible under the kind of economy Obama champions; a mixed economy that gives government officials the power to dish out economic and regulatory favors. This forces all economic interests—big business, small business, labor, “green” energy, etc.—to curry favor with government officials, either to defend against harmful regulations or seek favors (or both). Rent-seeking favors the economically established, stifling competition, which leads to monopolization. A monopoly, properly understood, entails coercive government interference. Such a monopoly, in which government favors one company (or companies) thus stifling or blocking competition, is not possible under capitalism. True, a single company can gain a dominant or exclusive market share under capitalism, but only by winning in the market, not by blocking competition.
Only full, laissez-faire capitalism—the complete separation of economics and state, modeled after the church/state separation—prevents rent-seeking and thus empowers the market—the people—to determine economic success and failure. Under capitalism, businesses can only succeed to the extent they deliver value for consumers in voluntary win-win transactions known as trade. There is no “tendency toward monopoly” but a tendency toward companies with the best product at the best price with the best service to win for as long as that company[ies] maintains those advantages.
This is devastating Obama disingenuousness. In the name of stopping voluntary market “monopolizers” accountable to consumers, Obama calls for coercive market domination by unaccountable government officials. In the name of preventing “the tendency toward monopoly and rent-seeking,” Obama awards a whole termites nest of regulation-writing bureaucrats to determine who gains and who loses in the economy. Someone once asked, “But who will protect us from our protectors?” Exactly.
The American Left—the so-called liberals or progressives—know full well what they are doing. They are socialists, and fascism is their means to that end. Simply regulate your way to socialism, and let the remnants of capitalism carry the responsibility for enforcement, take the blame for the growing pile of economic catastrophes the regulators create, and count on a clueless majority to let it happen without knowing it is happening. Forbes’ Fact and Comment article, Obama's Piece In 'The Economist' Gets Everything Wrong, is well worth reading—and keeping and re-reading periodically as a reminder of how the Left has been sneaking socialism into America and destroying capitalism under cover of pro-capitalist proclamations about “making markets work better.”
Atlas Shrugged—Ayn Rand
The Capitalist Manifesto—Andrew Bernstein