Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Free-Market Democrats

Tim Ferguson of the Wall Street Journal writes about the benefits of free markets:

[There was] miserable stagflation of the mid- and late 1970s, and an upheaval began, at least in America. Regulators began to trim back the red tape and to pull down the barriers that protected established firms from upstarts. Tax law was changed to inspire entrepreneurial risk, and new lenders emerged to seed it. Customers began to see price breaks, upgrades, longer retails hours, fresher fare and new products and services. Technology pushed the revolution along as well.

Today competition reigns in the U.S. in a way undreamed of 20 years ago--competition for markets, for labor, for capital, for time and, yes, for attention (just ask the newspaper industry). A lot of people have enriched themselves in the process, but no one feels safe from a new competitor sailing into view and sending shots across the bow, 24/7.

Ferguson then questions whether there are any Democrat free traders left.

There is still a wing [of the Democrats] that recognizes the gains to be had--for consumers big and small--from vigorous, relentless competition…

But the truly intense constituencies of the Democratic Party--the environmentalists and trial lawyers, the Hollywood and feminist leftists, the racial-spoils set and the unions--have allied themselves quite differently, eager to maintain status quo arrangements that serve their mutual interests...

Might there yet be a Nixon-to-China moment, when Howard Dean's Democrats rediscover the benefits of the market in defiance of their status quo caucus? It's not impossible. One derivative benefit of our competition-laced society is that countless forums now exist for getting messages out.

Good points. America’s economic success has been predicated on our ability to evolve with changing conditions. The economic protectionism and market stability (which became market stagnation) of the post-WW II era are over. If Democrats want to be the party of the economically insecure, then they need to look away from the terminal status quo and embrace free market economics.

Democrats certainly don’t have to conform to the Republican vision, but they do need to acknowledge and work within the reality that free markets have been and will continue to be very good for this country.


At 10:23 AM, Blogger Heiuan said...

This Democrat has always been in favor of the free market.

Competition is a very good thing...when it doesn't devolve into a bad thing. The line can sometimes be very fine.

I do believe that SOME regulation is necessary, but not to the point of overburdening entrepreneurs and stifling creativity and ingenuity.

In my personal Utopia, common sense would rule not party allegiance.


Post a Comment

<< Home