Politicians are constantly decrying the state of education in the United States. Although, few ever focus on the most severely lacking standards: those regarding economics. It’s a subject that’s almost entirely overlooked in K-12 education. Teaching the difference between economic systems and the intricacies of our own economy is an afterthought. As a result, a majority of the populace doesn’t understand simple concepts like the difference between being pro-free enterprise and pro-big business. Thankfully, classic videos like this exist of Milton Friedman explaining how the two philosophies are different.
Being pro-free enterprise is not the same as being pro-big business. The two are entirely different economic philosophies and should not be conflated; although they almost always are by politicians on both sides of the aisle. Republicans and Democrats regularly pass subsidies and regulations to help their campaign contributors under the guise of being pro-free enterprise. Others then protest those regulations as being pro-big business (which they are). Those big businesses get even bigger, and can afford to lobby for more special favors, and elect more legislators. It’s a never ending cycle that creates an inherently unfair marketplace and corrupt political class that undermines our society at large.
Unfortunately, the liberals who claim to be the most opposed to this system don’t understand the true heart of the problem. As Milton Friedman notes, they think that “the solution to big government is bigger government”. The only thing they would change is that they’d be in charge instead of whoever is currently in office. That won’t solve anything. A bigger government, capable of granting even more special favors, would only increase the economic incentive to lobby government for those privileges. The problem will only get worse that it was before.
Libertarians are just as opposed to that crony capitalist system of government but we propose a real solution. As Milton Friedman explains, free market capitalism creates a dispersal of power instead of the concentration of power produced by government. Free enterprise creates universal economic opportunity that is necessary to maintain a free society. That system cannot coexist with big government though. In order for free enterprise to succeed, government power has to be limited so it cannot be abused. If it is not, it’s only a matter of time before free market capitalism is transformed into crony capitalism once again.