"Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest." ~ John Stuart Mill
The War on the Free Market
Exclusive to STR
He may very well be the most dangerous man in America (except maybe John Mark Carr). Lou Dobbs is a well groomed, impeccably coifed, clean shaven fellow who wears dark business suits and snazzy ties with matching cufflinks. He is everyone's image of a businessman or capitalist, but in reality he is everything but. Recently Mr. Dobbs has authored a book War on The Middle Class (if you've read Das Kapital, you don't need this one) in which he describes a malaise that has overtaken a large sector of the US economy and offers up his solutions (drink the Kool Aid!). As expected (from a profit loving capitalist) he has been busy promoting his book in a number of venues.
Mr. Dobbs correctly identifies some of the culprits responsible for America's economic maladies, such as politicians from both major political parties as well as large corporations, special interest groups and their army of lobbyists. He also astutely points out that large corporations and special interest groups (the "johns") spend billions every year on lobbyists (political pimps) in an attempt to obtain favorable legislation from Congress (the whorehouse). But Mr. Dobbs makes a fundamental error when he puts government, corporations and special interest on equal footing. He bases his "solution" on this flawed calculation, while spewing big government solutions (just like the politicians he criticizes).
On a recent appearance on "The Daily Show," Mr. Dobbs stated, "Democrats and Republicans have shipped 3 million jobs overseas, eliminated 4 million manufacturing jobs, held wages stagnant for 35 years." Such a statement could only come from either a purely economic stooge, or an avowed Mooney. Though politicians are in some ways responsible for outsourcing, plant closings and wage stagnation, it is not at all in the way insinuated by Lou Dobbs.
The migration of jobs to other countries, or "outsourcing" as its popularly referred to, did not just come out of nowhere in the last decade. Congress and the corporations did not sit down one day and plan to obliterate jobs in the US. It has come about slowly as politicians over time attempted to appease charlatans who complained about the same things Mr. Dobbs complains about today. Minimum and "living" wage legislation, along with the formation of federal agencies like OSHA, EEOC, ESA, ETA (even more terrorizing than Basque separatists) and the alphabet soup of regulations they spawn. All these departments along with their accompanying army of bureaucrats and populist regulations have mostly served to increase the cost of labor (with no real benefit to the actual laborer), which in turn puts downward pressure on actual wages paid while putting pressure on prices to rise. It's no wonder US employers are looking for less regulated markets elsewhere around the globe.
The Nineteenth Century French economist Frederic Bastiat (buy any of his books) once said, "The state is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else." Mr. Dobbs obviously does not subscribe to this view. He proposes to fix what ails America via the ballot box or through some show of political strength; "So what if a majority of us decided once and for all to walk into our town and city halls all over the country and change our party affiliation from Republican or Democrat to Independent? What if that sizable number of us who don't vote at all decided to register as Independents? For the first time in decades, working middle-class Americans might just get the attention of our elected officials in Washington." This scenario would only serve to empower some "new" populist manipulator (Dobbs '08?) who would promptly enact more draconian legislation, create more red tape and make America's economic situation much worse than it is today, by strangling ingenuity and commerce.
When it comes to trade, Mr. Dobbs fills the airwaves and the pages of his overpriced book (no price is too low) with vague populist solutions; "We need managed, balanced, reciprocal trade." That makes it simple enough. The only question that needs to be answered is who will be doing the managing, balancing, and handling the reciprocity?
Mr. Dobbs also seems to have a warped view of American history. On his "Daily Show" appearance, he confidently stated, "We have to take on the concepts that held this country in pretty good stead for over 200 years; shared burdens, shared responsibility and shared sacrifice." What! Somebody ought to inform Mr. Dobbs pronto that he lives in the USA, not North Korea. Mr. Dobbs' statement is more in line with totalitarian Marxist thought (and the American Beer Drinkers Party), as opposed to the individualist and free market ideas of Locke and Smith, upon which the US was founded (but unfortunately has strayed from).
The solution to America's economic malaise does not lay in more government restriction of the free market; it rests not in maligning corporations but in emasculating the power of the government. The only reason billions of dollars are being spent by corporations and special interest to influence the government is because of the almost absolute power the government has granted itself with the complicity of the masses, in the name of "the people." If we rid the government of its power over the economy and commerce, the lobbyist in Washington will disappear faster than roaches in the kitchen when you turn on the lights.