When you or I start a business, we do not usually have the luxury of picking up the phone and calling our Congressman. Imagine actually getting through to your representative and having this conversation:
Noel: “Congressman Smith, this is Terry Noel.”
(Smith motions to his Executive Assistant, shrugs his shoulders, and writes a note asking who the hell this guy is.”)
Congressman: “Larry! Great to hear from you! You know, I am doing everything I can to stop global warming, guard against the swine flu, and get steroids out of baseball.”
Noel: “Well, Congressman, that’s not really why I called.”
(Smith motions again. Writes a note asking for the caller’s record of campaign contributions.)
Congressman: “What? I mean, nothing is more important than my constituents.”
Noel: “Well, you see, I have a big problem. My business is coming up short this quarter. To tell you the truth, I could use a bailout.”
Congressman: “I see…”
(Circles his finger at the side of his head in a cuckoo motion.)
Noel: “Not much. I mean nothing compared to the big banks.”
Congressman: “Well, Harry, it’s been nice talking to you and I appreciate your vote.”
Noel: “Wait! The bailout?”
Congressman: “Yes, I am making sure that all these companies are held accountable. I am glad you support me. American jobs for American workers. That’s what I say. We can’t let our businesses suffer because of low wages in Fiji. Call again. Anytime.”
When government injects itself into the economy, its actions are arbitrary, capricious, and usually based on campaign contributions. As long as politicians are given the power to reduce competition through regulation or provide subsidies outright to their contributors, businesses can grow. In fact, they can grow rapidly because they no longer have to work as hard to satisfy their customers. When things get rough, they ask their political friends to change the rules instead of competing fairly. Businesses don’t get winnowed out for failure to perform.
The winnowing process of a truly free market is supremely neutral. If you or I do not provide a better product or service than our competitors, we lose money. If we lose enough, we go out of business. The only way to stop the current insanity of propping up businesses that are “too big to fail” is to take away politicians’ power to interfere.