American Consequences - June 2019

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

The amazing thing about free-market capitalism is that it gets rid of stuff that doesn’t work. You say, “Amazing? When stuff doesn’t work, of course you get rid of it!”

If you’ve got a washing machine and – no matter how many times the supposedly lonely Maytag Man has been to your house – it just can’t be fixed... do you keep piling dirty clothes into it? You’ll run out of things to wear. No, you haul the old appliance to the dump and acquire a new one. This is what free- market capitalism does with businesses. When a business is no longer profitable, investors dispose of it and put their investment capital into another business that does (or will, investors hope) make a profit. (Which is pretty much what happened to Maytag – the brand name bought by Whirlpool and practically everybody at the Maytag company fired.) This is – sorry, Maytag employees – common sense. And common sense is really all there is to the free-market capitalist system. But there are other systems... systems that don’t involve common sense in the use of capital, systems that spend money in strange and silly ways.

Of these systems, the biggest is big government, with its ethos of “If it works, tax it... If it doesn’t work, subsidize it.” When the government has a broken washing machine, it breaks the dryer to ensure job security for the Maytag Man, then funds a grant program for free clean t-shirts. Or, to take an actual example, there’s the War on Poverty. The federal government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars on poverty programs. (It’s currently spending more than $668 billion a year, according to the Cato Institute.)

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When the government has a broken washing machine, it breaks the dryer to ensure job security for the Maytag Man, then funds a grant program for free clean t-shirts. “

American Consequences

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