Free Markets, Free People
From Professor Luigi Zingales:
“There is not a well-understood distinction between being pro-business and being pro-market. Businessmen like free markets until they get into a market; once they are in it they want to block entry to others. Pro-marketeers want free markets at all times. The more conservative pro-marketeers are fearful of criticising business, because they assume they will be seen as criticising the free market. But we need to stand up and criticise business when business is not helping the cause of free markets.”
We talk a lot about crony capitalism. Well what the good professor is talking about when he says that businessmen like free markets until they get in one and then they try to “block entry to others” is part of what we’re talking about.
One aspect of cronyism is where businesses attempt to use the power of government, if they can so influence it, to give their company sweetheart regulations, raise artificial barriers to entry and to otherwise impede competitors to the point that they have an advantage. I’d like to say advantage in the “market”, but the market, at that point, no longer exists as a free one. It is now a distorted market due to government cronyism.
That’s something that badly needs to stop. Whether at this point that’s even possible and if it is, how we’d actually go about it are some interesting questions to discuss.
However, the primary point is being pro-business does not necessarily being pro-market and it certainly doesn’t mean you are necessarily for free markets.
We need to change the way we discuss this. We nee to talk about free markets and roundly condemn any business that attempts to use the coercive power of government to it’s advantage in markets as well as condemning those in government who use its power for such things.
The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:
The FHFA reports the house price index rose 0.7% for June, and is up 3.6% year-over-year.
Initial jobless claims rose 4,000 for a second straight week to 372,000. the 4-week moving average rose 1,000 to 368,000. Continuing claims rose 4,000 to 3.317 million.
The Markit Economics PMI Manufacturing Index Flash rose 0.5 points to 51.9, indicating low but rising manufacturing activity.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell a steep 3.0 points to -47.4 for the sixth straight drop and the lowest reading since December, 2011.
New home sales rose 3.6% in July to an annual unit rate of 372,000, well above consensus, and the best since July 2010.
As Politico says, the poll among non-voters is a good news/bad news poll if you want to look at it that way:
Forty-three percent of nonvoters are Obama supporters, the survey found, while 20 percent of the nonvoters support Romney, 18 percent back a third-party candidate and 15 percent are undecided.
How is this good news? Well here’s the claim. See if you don’t agree the bad news is likely to be the real news here:
“The good news is that there is a treasure chest of voters he doesn’t even have to persuade — they already like him and dislike Mitt Romney. He just needs to unlock the chest and get them out to vote. The bad news is that these people won’t vote because they feel beaten down by empty promises, a bad economy and the negativity of both parties. Obama has lost time — and the key — to open that treasure chest.”
Actually, his poor performance has put the key out of reach. But no one wants to say that, I suppose.
What this indicates to me is the masses that were motivated to vote the last time aren’t at all motivated this time to turn out for Mr. Hope and Change.
His real problem though isn’t with non-voters, it’s with real voters, real voters that have supported him and must turn out in similar numbers as last time for him to win. It would appear many have returned to the non-voting roles.
Netroots Nation, the activist left convention held every year by the Daily Kos may be a reflection of another problem:
“I want to be happy with him,” said Democrat Kristine Vaughan, a 45-year-old school psychologist from Canton, Ohio. “But I am finding that he has succumbed to the corporate influence as much as everyone else. I think he has so much potential to break out of that, but overall he has been a disappointment.”
The sentiment is not unique among the 2,700 people gathered on the first day of this three-day convention. More than a dozen liberals interviewed here indicated some level of frustration with the president, despite widespread praise for his recent decision to support gay marriage and ongoing push to scale back military action in the Middle East.
Of course, Ms. Vaughan –an activist – will turn out and she will vote, but the question is, will she do it enthusiastically? The answer is likely “no”. It’s a duty this time. So what does that say for the non-activist voter that previously voted for Obama? See above.
Kate Hicks points out:
Those who do still plan to vote for Obama, however, report that they’re less willing to put in the same sort of get-out-the-vote effort that they displayed last time. Indeed, part of Obama’s victory in 2008 stemmed from increasing voter mobilization, and while the die-hards will trudge to the polls in November, they’re less likely to work quite so hard to encourage others to do so, too.
And we all know that Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts are key to winning elections. Last time Obama had a massive and effective GOTV effort (and the money with which to do it). This time, not as much money and certainly not as much enthusiasm surrounding the effort.
A final indicator:
A Gallup/USA Today survey released Monday found that 74 percent of Republicans were thinking of the election “quite a lot,” compared with 61 percent of Democrats.
The enthusiasm gap remains and is real. And it’s not good news for the incumbent President (who yesterday visited Oiho, one of the 57 states).