Invention by Republican: The Free Market And Your Personal Freedom

Invention by Republican is a regular series on The Left Call, highlighting factually inaccurate and hyperbolic narratives by Republicans, conservatives and right-wing ideologues.

There is no such thing as the ‘free market’. It doesn’t exist. I don’t care what conservatives, Republicans or even economists say, there is no free market. How do I know this? It’s actually quite simple. Search Google for ‘free market definition’ and you find the following definition:

free mar-ket

An economic system in which prices are determined by unrestricted competition between privately owned businesses.

Does anybody really believe there is (or could ever be) unrestricted competition between privately owned businesses? If you do you are mistaken…and you are also likely a Republican.

All businesses and industries have regulations they must follow. But I hear you saying, ‘free market advocates want to do away with these regulations so that we can get to a true free market’. Sure, that might be the case, but we still would never have a truly free market because corporations will never stop lobbying congress for legislation favorable to their business. If the free market is to be free from government oversight and regulation then there is no reason for corporations to lobby congress. If a corporation can influence congress to shape legislation to give it an advantage over a competitor, that sounds as far from a free market as I can think of in a system based on capitalism. And let’s be honest, ‘capitalism’ and ‘free market’ are not synonymous. We can have capitalism with sensible regulations.

Republicans and conservatives talk about the free market and our choice as consumers like those things are synonymous with our personal freedom and liberty guaranteed to us as citizens. They are NOT the same thing. To compare freedom as consumers to freedom as citizens is a debasement of our rights, freedom and liberty as citizens of the United States and for that matter devalues the Constitution that guarantees us these rights. Capitalism is not democracy and democracy is not capitalism. This country was founded as a representative democracy. Capitalism as we know it in the past century did not exist when the country was founded. The well-being of our democracy should be a priority and we should not sacrifice it to flawed ‘free market’ idealism.

I suggest we stop allowing Republicans and conservatives to get away with comparing consumerism with citizenship. Some things are much more important than the “market”.


photo by Jonathon Colman

Invention by RepublicanThe 'Free' Market

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