Bryan Griffin: In Support Of The Free Market

Mar 20, 2019

I am going to buck the trend of the latest national discourse, especially that which is coming from the Democratic candidates announcing for President.

There is nothing that beats the free market.

Despite the talking points, the free-market capitalist system of America is not broken and does not need to be replaced. In fact, the free market (not democratic socialist policies or Green New Deals) is the most viable answer to every exigency facing the nation.

I’ll go a step further, and then fill in the details, time-constraints withstanding.

Most of the perceived shortcomings of the free-market are actually symptoms of wayward government intervention into our lives.

Let’s start here.

Only for about the last 200 years has capitalism been the dominant and fastest growing economic system in the world. Before that we all lived under kings, despots, or emperors. We’re talking the biggest of big governments exercising complete centralized control over resources—or in other words, the endgame of socialism.

If you wanted to know what a real 1 percent looked like, it was the pre-capitalism elite of the old world.

In the early 1800s, the Industrial Revolution exploded. AKA, the rise of capitalism.

The statistics about the world since then could not paint a clearer picture of the success of the free market.

In 1820, 94 percent of the world lived in poverty, and 84 percent of the world lived in extreme poverty, according to an Oxford University study. In 2019, that statistic has fallen to 8 percent according to the World Poverty Clock.

And as time progresses capitalism is getting even better at doing good. Since just 1990, the number of people living on less than two dollars a day has halved, according to the Foundation for Economic Freedom. There are hundreds more equally impressive statistics.

The great equalizer is the freemarket.

Don’t let the naysayers use faulty logic to throw smoke and mirrors at your understanding of the benefits of capitalism. Income inequality, growing or not, is not a crisis. It simply means we are creating more wealth as a country. The rich may be getting richer but the poor are inextricably linked to their success via job availability and standard of living.

Yes, America doesn’t provide free healthcare, and thank God we don’t. Free healthcare means the end of innovation and a drastic downturn on quality. Only the free market provides the incentive structure that encourages innovation in technology, and as we innovate, we discover how to do things cheaper. Price is variable in the free market based on demand, which necessarily means that average goods (or in this case decent quality healthcare) are affordable to the consumer.

Meanwhile, Canada’s healthcare system, glorified by some Democrats, is recovering from its worst year ever, according to a recent Forbes article. In 2017, on average, Canadians waited 21.2 weeks to see a specialist, 33 weeks for neurosurgery, and 41 weeks for orthopedic treatment. “At best, single-payer offers patients universal access to a wait list,” writes Sally Pipes, a Forbes contributor.

This isn’t to suggest those who truly can’t afford things like food or healthcare be damned. The free market has a means of providing for the needy too. Nearly every company has a “good-will” line in their budget, or some sort of charity organized by their employees. And a growing economy means more job opportunities and more ways for people to work for the things they can’t presently afford.

People like being charitable and will do so voluntarily. People have hearts. As a society, we should be encouraging and incentivizing the community to provide voluntarily for those in need, not forcing them at gunpoint through the government.

In previous commentaries I have dissected the inability of government to provide for the needs of people through large, unending social programs. The bottom line, though, is that a government should only intervene as a safety net when someone is truly unable to be a part of the free-market system, and when incentivizing private charity has been exhausted as an option.

The free market even has a good track record when it comes to the environment, and we can do more to help the environment with free-market solutions.

Government is the worst polluter on earth. Look at China’s track record. Look at our own government’s actions, in Flint, Michigan for example. Or in wrecking the ecosystem of the Animas River in Colorado.

Consumers, on the other hand, value being green. Products and companies with good environmental track records can market this behavior to increase sales.

And the free market system is the mother of innovation.

Take recent innovations in natural gas harvesting. As I recently wrote in BizPac Review, Natural gas is quickly becoming a substitute for more environmentally damaging fossil fuels. America led the pack in reducing CO2 emissions in 2017, despite President Trump pulling out of the big-government Paris Climate accord.

The free-market can be the greatest tool we have for fighting climate change because it rewards innovators who do things the public cares about – like protect the environment – at the lowest cost. How did we curb the world’s deforestation problem? We didn’t ration paper – we invented the USB drive and the computer.

I could go on, and the examples are plentiful. But the point is simple. The free market works and has more capacity to do more good for us in America if we celebrate it, unleash it, and limit the size of government.

Conservatives understand and value the free-market. Elected Republicans should be defending and extolling our free-market system more frequently, at every call for socialist substitution.

If the liberal, Democratic candidates for President in 2020 really want to make a bold statement about economics, they should celebrate our free market system and jealously guard it from socialist takeover.

Bryan Griffin of the London Center for Policy Research is a lawyer and author who specializes in American policy in the Middle East.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.