A Benjamin Cole post
Like it or not, the U.S. Supreme Court has often ruled in favor of intensive federal and state and local intrusion and control over free markets.
- Property can be zoned, or downzoned by local government. No building 60-story condo towers in the seaside City of San Clemente, Ca., a GOP hotbed, for example.
- Property can taxed at will; in Texas the local assessor’s office can up-zone property and apply higher taxes accordingly.
- Numerous trades require a license to practice, think law, or real estate brokering, or example.
- The federal government can and does tell a wheat grower how much wheat to grow.
- The federal government mandates 10% of “gasoline” sold national be ethanol.
- The federal government can and does outlaw the import of sugar.
- The federal government can legalize the private seizure by eminent domain of land for private profit, as in case of the Keystone pipeline.
- The federal government can create a professional (mercenary) permanently mobilized federalized military, and lay taxes upon productive citizens for that purpose.
- Cities or states can outlaw push-cart vendors, prostitution, gambling, or racing pigeons. Or they can legalize the consumption of alcohol—there is no “right” to consume alcohol.
Of course, I have only scratched the surface here.
Why This Exercise?
In a democracy, we see voters, interest groups and public officials can do just about anything they want. Free enterprise has nothing to do with it. You can holler about free enterprise—tell it to the U.S. fuel-ethanol industry, now deeply entrenched.
So, if central banks suffocate economies in their exalted mission to bring about no inflation, how will voters and lobby groups react? They will vote to shield themselves, or vote for special privileges.
In contrast, if there are chronic labor shortages, how will voters react to free enterprise?
Central banks cannot suffocate political economies into compliance with free-market ideals. But they are trying.