We all know that progressives have different ideas about politics and the roles of the government than our nation's founders.
I know I will be trounced on by Conservatives and Libertarians for today's post, but I believe that progressives also have radically different ideas about markets and business as well.
I actually go a step forward and say that progressive ideas about markets are as dangerous as their political ideas. Quite frankly, I see progressive economic ideas as central to the economic malaise of the day. (It was also the cause of the recession that FDR prolonged into the Great Depression).
If people are serious about saving America, they must sit down and think seriously about the differences between the progressive and traditional approach to markets.
Unfortunately, the culture war has people so caught up on the debate of communism v. capitalism that the discussion of distinctions within the market becomes impossible.
A few posts back, I brought up The First Department Store. ZCMI was created by a progressive leader who convinced merchants to pool their resources into a single business that could dominate the local market. Since that time, the retail market has been dominated by large groups of investors who would leverage their resources in a gamble to build stores that would dominate the market.
Most efforts fail, with a few coming out on top. Needless to say, as retailers try to gain dominance, the retail market has become much more of a political beast.
This game of dominance and submission is different from the game of creating and re-investing capital described by Adam Smith.
The big box store was the creation of progressives. During the early days of the big box store, progressives would laud the older prices.
Today, of course, progressives make shrill noises as they try to assert ever greater political control over their creations while idiotic Conservatives line up to defend the progressive big box paradigm.
This game of taking a massive leveraged position to dominate a market is different from the methodically game of reinvesting capital described by Smith.
During the DotCom Boom and Bust, we saw the system throwing massive amounts of leveraged money in efforts to dominate the new market. Investors sold product at a loss to gain market share. The people playing this game went under, and their bad money pulled down those with rational business models.
Taking out a massive leveraged position to dominate a market is different from the systematic investment and re-investment of income that build this nation.
Patrick Byrne of Deep Capture burned himself to a frazzle arguing against naked short selling. Libertarians lambasted the work for wanting tighter control of short selling. They called it regulations, forgetting the fact that naked short selling is an artificial contrivance of regulations. The short selling regime was created by progressives seeking a way to regulate market spikes.
Progressives use a state-of-the-art fever-pitched-whine where they use the abuses of short selling to demand greater market regulation. Like the libertarians, they completely ignore the fact that naked short selling was a contrivance of progressives past to regulate the market.
The 2010 Financial Regulations were a similar joke. The primary aim of this wave of regulation was to regulate the regulations of the 2000 Security Modernization Act which was cleverly called "deregulation." It is pure insanity. Conservatives blindly supported a set of regulations because it was called "deregulation." The little semantic trick now lets progressives project the failures of an absurd set of regulations on the free market.
Another example that I explored in depth is insurance. Once again, insurance was the creation of progressives. Insurance is a scheme to regulate health expenses. People are told to put their health care resources into a pool. In times of ill health, people would place a legal claim against the pool. The system is remarkably inefficient and unjust as the people with inside connections get the service and the outsiders get pushed aside.
Unfortunately, if one attempts to debate the failings of insurance, progressives will let forth with a loud piercing screech about how insurance must be regulated. Progressives beat the loud drums of market failure despite the fact that insurance is intrinsically anti-market.
Conservatives, focusing solely on the question of private v. public ownership, will counter with a knee-jerk reaction to defend private insurance companies. Conservatives will do stupid things like demand tort reform (while failing to notice that every transaction is a legal claim which require legal oversight). Conservatives will champion states rights in on breath then demand they be allowed to buy insurance over state lines in the next. As insurance is inherently a legal product, buying insurance across state's lines demands national regulation.
Conservatives have become as dangerous a threat to the free market as the progressives they loath.
A primary thesis of Alinsky, Marx, Moa, Stalin, Hitler, the professoriat at the University and other progressives is that they intend to use to the tools of the market to destroy the market.
Progressives spend the vast majority of their time in efforts to define the market. In this effort they count on conservative reaction.
This is the game played by Marx in Das Kapital. The game is to define the market in ways that concentrate wealth and is instable.
Conservatives then flock to defend the Marx's model of Capitalism.
One will not preserve the free market simply by arguing Marx's anti-thesis. Arguing Marx's anti-thesis allows the progressives to define the market, and progressives have a long history of defining the market to our peril.
To restore America, we have to recognize that we've been on the wrong path for several decades. We need to identify the traps set for us modern discourse and strive to reignite the discussion of the nature of mankind, government and freedom the US Founders.