A recent article on Bloomberg made it clear that when Democrats speak of “the free market” they really have no clue what they are talking about. Author Alex Marshall shows his ignorance in the first paragraphs of his piece when he tries to define what Republicans believe about government. His false view of what he claims Republicans believe about the role of government skews his entire view of the relationship between capitalism and government. His ignorance is a good opportunity to remind us of the proper role of government in a free market.
In the second paragraph of his hit piece, Marshall writes this: “To Republicans, government is a cancerous force, there to secure what their platform calls ‘our God-given liberties.’” Umm, no. That’s not what Republicans believe. Government can certainly become a cancerous force, and it most certainly has in many areas; but government, in and of itself, is a necessary force, albeit in a limited form and power. The United States Constitution (and the Articles of Confederation before that) is a case study in the necessity of government, as well as in the necessity of limiting said government. The Declaration of Independence does indeed make it clear that our individual rights come from God (“endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…”), and that it is the responsibility of government to protect and maintain these rights (“that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men…”), but it also declares—and therefore warns successive generations—that the people ultimately control the government, the government does not control the people (“whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government… as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”)
Notice that the Declaration makes no mention of government being a cancerous force, or even an unnecessary force. Quite the contrary, in fact. The Declaration places the responsibility for the form of government squarely on the shoulders of the citizens (“deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”), but, interestingly, it does not empower the people to abolish the government entirely. The Declaration (and every founding American document after it), assumes that government in some form will, and must, always exist, even to the point that if the people choose to abolish their current system of government, they are duty-bound to replace it with a new one that does “effect their safety and happiness.” Anarchy is not an option in the eyes of Thomas Jefferson and the rest of the Founding Fathers. Marshall begins his article with a flawed concept of, what he states is, the Republican view of government. It should come as no surprise then, that the remainder of his article is equally flawed.
After describing what he claims is the Republican and Democratic view of the role of government, Marshall writes the following:
There is this idea, not discussed because it is so widely accepted even on the political left, that some sort of independent, free-standing market exists with its own laws, similar to those of natural systems, such as the law of gravity. Democrats want to poke, prod and regulate this market; Republicans say they want to leave it alone. But this so-called free market doesn’t exist, not even as a valid concept. Governments create markets.
There is so much nonsense here that it requires another article. Tomorrow, we will look at Marshall’s view of the “free market” and how he believes that government is paramount to stimulating and encouraging commerce among the citizens.