Editor note: This post will be followed tomorrow by Part II: Crony Capitalism: Practice. On Tuesday, Robert Bradley will post on cronyism in the U.S. energy industry.
To the great economists of free trade and free markets, capitalism meant laissez faire: “Let us compete free of government help or hindrance.” To Adam Smith and David Ricardo, to Ludwig von Mises and Milton Friedman, laissez faire in the phrase “laissez faire capitalism” was redundant.
But today, opponents of capitalism such as leftist MIT Professor Noam Chomsky and sociologist Jane Jacobs believe that “crony capitalism” is the redundant phrase. They believe that capitalism by its nature involves corruption of the political process to favor one enterprise over another.
What about the American public? Earlier this year, a poll by the Rasmussen firm revealed that 39 percent of those responding consider ours to be a system of “crony capitalism.” And they are right.…
Economists are famous for disagreeing among themselves. Yet on the subject of free trade, economic opinion speaks almost with one voice. In a recent survey, 87.5 percent of PhD members of the American Economic Association agreed that “the U.S. should eliminate remaining tariffs and other barriers to trade.”
As Paul Krugman (not exactly a proponent of laissez-faire) has stated, “if there were an Economist’s Creed, it would surely contain the affirmations ‘I understand the Principle of Comparative Advantage’ and ‘I advocate Free Trade’.”
Indeed. Since the days of Adam Smith and David Ricardo, economists have been tireless in demonstrating the role free trade plays in promoting prosperity and harmony for all nations.
Yet the economic consensus in favor of free trade has not always been heeded.…
“We can’t drill our way out of our energy problem.” This oft-repeated mantra may have superficial appeal. However, on closer examination, it reflects an abysmal grasp of energy and economic facts by special interests that exert far too much influence over U.S. policies.
If only their hot air could be converted into usable energy.
Drilling won’t generate production overnight. But it will ensure steady new supplies a few years hence. Unlike electricity generation from wind and solar, hydrocarbon development is not an intermittent process. It is 24-7 every month, every year.
Simply announcing that America is finally hunting oil again would send a powerful signal to global energy markets. It would also tame speculators, many of whom bet that continued U.S. drilling restrictions will further exacerbate the global demand-supply imbalance and send prices even higher for “futures” (under which a person pays a specific amount today, with the expectation of selling a commodity on a future date at a higher price).…