Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pro-Free Enterprise

Ask and ye shall recieve. In response to a comment I made last week on WalMart subsidies, Owen Courreges at Uptown Messenger examines the difference between being "pro-business" and being "pro-free enterprise."

Pro-business being another term I associate with "business friendliness," the turn of phrase preferred by so very many Southern Chambers of Commerce as they pick the pockets of some businesses to put cash in the pockets of their more invested interests.

As a Southern Liberal, I can justify subsidies and tax breaks and infrastructure investments that stand to augment all businesses in a place. The Tennessee Valley Authority made a lot of people rich while taking a lot of other people's land. It also provided power for millions. The Port of New Orleans and the Port of Savannah allow any businesses to ship their goods by sea. Farm subsidies can be gamed to make millions for agribusiness, but they've also helped stabilize food prices. There are trade offs, and the people must be vigilant and informed of where their tax dollars are going, who is using them, and who stands to benefit the most.

That's because the free enterprise system requires rules and a just playing field in order for the true market competition to work. On the other hand, using tax revenues generated by some businesses to support their competition is when the government - and their well-connected interests - violate the free market to choose the winners and the losers in unfair competition. That may be "pro-(specific)-businesses" or "business friendly," in name, but it is more akin to feudalism in practice.

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