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February 4th, 2010 2:17 pm
Pro-Markets, Not Pro-Business
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As the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter memorably put it, the free market is about “creative destruction” —  rank, privilege, and status mean nothing if you can’t compete in the marketplace. Bad companies and products wilt under competition from more capable rivals.

Applying these kinds of first principles to policy debates can be unwieldy at times, however, if they don’t exactly square with your political coalition. Republicans have been wed to the business establishment for decades on the notion that those who philosophically support the free market and those who actually grind the gears of commerce on a daily basis are natural allies. Not necessarily, says Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan in an interview with RealClearPolitics. When asked about the current state of the economy:

Republicans messed this up too. We have to remember that we’re also to blame for having practiced crony capitalism. But where we are right now — it’s a systematic expansion of this doctrine. For us, it’s easier to fix because we just have to rededicate ourselves to our principles. For Democrats, they would have to repudiate theirs, because crony capitalism sits nicely with their philosophy. You can sort of see an alignment here where big business and big government find a common agreement and that is a very big danger to our free market system. So we need to go back to being pro-market, instead of just pro-business. And there is a difference.

Ryan is one of the brightest members of Congress around (his comprehensive plan for restoring America’s economic health is referenced extensively in the interview and can be found here) and it’s nice to see an elected official finally making this too-oft ignored distinction.

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