Was not the whole point of free-market capitalism that the market, allegedly, regulates itself? We stop buying Chinese toys when too many of them contain lead or other toxic materials? If too many jets from the same airline, crash, then I’m done flying with that airline. The risk of losing business is the only incentive powerful corporations have to do right by the consumer. It’s the same for toys that poison our kids as it is for planes that malfunction and, as it should be, for financial expertise that turns out to be sucky advice. The “freedom to succeed” fosters a more efficient and productive society. That’s the anti-regulation rationale that props up capitalism while condemning socialism. And, at the risk of angering fuzzy mainstream liberals, I tend to agree with it. But only if the same reasoning gets applied uniformly. Which it won’t be if this Wall Street Bailout, or any subsequent version of it, is passed.
Just as businesses should be “allowed” to succeed, they also must be free to fail. Currently, only the masses are free to do that. Only when our failure trickles up finally to economic elites do any of them consider changing how they do business (and even then, not out of any altruistic concern for the greater good, but because they understand we won’t be buying their products anymore if everyone’s broke from chronic overconsumption). The risks that are said to balance the free market and naturally compel people to responsibly self-regulate are only useful if they constrain all of us equally. This bailout sets a new precedent, whereby some are powerful enough to warrant their own safety net. We the people can no longer take the risk of our risks applying to them; so the rich get their very own mulligan as long as their mistakes endanger the rest of us as well.
If those who lend money to hardworking Americans are incompetent and/or corrupt, then they deserve the same fate as Chinese toymakers. That’s freedom, no? If a “free market” government can’t be bothered to intervene on behalf of the common man, then shouldn’t the common man be “free” to gradually inform himself? And if an informed citizenry means people will self-regulate more and start to live within our means, then maybe The Market deserves this hangover. But rather than learn from our mistakes, 2/3 of House Democrats and 1/3 of their opponents advocate borrowing our way out of them, to the detriment of future generations. The result will be an entire society that doesn’t understand the value of a dollar; where in essence we tax the poor and give to the rich.
Why give us more reasons to try to keep up with the Jones’es? Now is the time to laugh at the Jones’es, as they’ve been laughing at us for some time now.