Beware Policies that are Pro-Business
The consistently excellent Donald Boudreaux has a new post today called Beware Policies that are Pro-Business. I’ll reprint the most pertinent part of it here:
There are two ways for a government to be ‘pro-business.’ The first way is to avoid interfering in capitalist acts among consenting adults – that is, to keep taxes low, regulations few, and subsidies non-existent. This ‘pro-business’ stance promotes widespread prosperity because in reality it isn’t so much pro-business as it is pro-consumer. When this way is pursued, businesses are rewarded for pleasing consumers, and only for pleasing consumers.
The second, and very different, way for government to be pro-business is to bestow favors and privileges on politically connected firms. These favors and privileges, such as tariffs and export subsidies, invariably oblige consumers to pay more – either directly in the form of higher prices, or indirectly in the form of higher taxes – for goods and services. This way of being pro-business reduces the nation’s prosperity by relieving businesses of the need to satisfy consumers. When this second way is pursued, businesses are rewarded for pleasing politicians. Competition for consumers’ dollars is replaced by competition for political favors.
This is a clear and concise (and really, nobody does clear and concise better than Boudreaux) exposition of the difference between capitalism and “capitalism.” And it’s precisely that difference which makes arguing a position of liberty incredibly difficult when your audience assumes different premises than you.
There is incredible consistency in a principled approach to liberty, yet the second way to be pro-business, noted above, does not line up with these principles. If your audience assumes you’re a crony capitalist because they assume that crony capitalism is capitalism, you’ll never convince anyone. Laying out the difference beforehand should clear up any confusion, and now defenders of liberty have a quick, easy, and accessible blog post to point to.