Markets Versus Business

Veronique De Rugy returns to one of her favorite topics on The Corner at NRO: The difference between being pro-business and pro-markets:

It is unfortunate that so many Republicans, conservatives lawmakers, and pundits conflate being pro-market with being pro-business. These are two separate things. Unfortunately, this confusion has produced thousands of government handouts and privileges to companies in the name of being pro-business — and these companies have developed a sense of entitlement. Worst of all, for many of them, government-granted privileges are an inherent part of their business models.

Our view is that the confusion on the right is limited.  Most of the decisions to abandon economic freedom by the right are made with full knowledge.  Folks see the political advantage in giving up economic freedom.  It is too bad, for example, that Marco Rubio supports sugar subsidies but we believe he understands what he is doing even if he does not admit it.

Where the real problems come is in the debates between left and right.  It is in that comparison that we need to make the distinction between pro-markets and pro-business.  The left is usually pro-business for a limited set of business but are never (can anyone think of a counter example?) pro-markets.  The right always starts out as pro-markets but sometimes some of them ends up as pro-business based on status quo arguments.

We need to understand that the left is anti-markets and the right is pro-markets.  The pro-business stuff comes from different directions too.  The left wants to determine economic winners.  The right, sadly, wants to pick political winners.  Pro-freedom except for sugar (we exaggerate slightly) makes you a senator.  We can’t be content about that but we need to accept that it is currently true.  Economic conservatives, as with the health care bill, need to decide if they can accept some small portion of a loaf as an improvement.  The health care bill will be one of many difficult choices for economic conservatives in the near future.

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