These critics have insisted that it is unbridled capitalism, set lose on the world, which is the source of all of our personal and society misfortunes. We hear and read this not only in the popular news media and out of the mouths of the political pundits. We see it also in the election of a radical socialist to the leadership of the British Labor party, and a self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” riding high in the public opinion polls for the Democratic Party’s nomination to the U.S. presidency.
The first observation to make is that many if not most of the social and economic misfortunes that are most frequently talked about are not the product of a “failed” free enterprise. The reason for this is that a consistently practiced free enterprise system no longer exists in the United States.
The Heavy Hand of Regulation
What we live under is a heavily regulated, managed and controlled interventionist-welfare state. The over 80,000 pages of the Federal Register, the volume that specifies and enumerates all the Federal regulations that are imposed on and to which all American businesses are expected to comply, is just one manifestation of the extent to which government has weaved a spider’s web of commands over the business community.
The Small Business Administration has estimated that compliance costs imposed on American enterprise by this mountain of regulations maybe upwards of $2 trillion a year.
At the same time, the tangled web of corrupt government-private sector relationships is also reflected in the size and cost of special interest lobbying activities connected with the Federal government.
According to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Government, in 2014 there were almost 12,000 registered lobbyists working in Washington, D.C. Their job is to influence the writing of legislation that serve special interest groups attempting to obtain sectorial tax breaks, anti-competitive regulations or market restrictions, redistributions of wealth, or taxpayer funded subsidies and protections from the realities of free market competition and trade, or to advance various ideologically motived “causes.”
Spending Big Money to Plunder Others