Skip to main content

CORPORATISM, COMPETITION, CHOICE: FIXING THE TRUE ISSUE WITH CAPITALISM

THE CRC REVIEW

The solution to our economic issues is never a system that consolidates market and social power. Rather our economy greater competition and choice. Many critics of capitalism emote anger in misleading manner, backing an increased presence of an entity driving many of the issues. A major issue with our economy is consolidated market power with lack viability for small business. A more appropriate path forward is reducing the effect of corporatism by encouraging greater competition and new market entrants. 

Corporatism is the idea that corporations have more than their fair share of influence on our society, economy, and public policy. Corporations around the world play a major role in societies, employing mass amounts of people, creating wealth, and providing products that directly improve the quality of life of many. Issues can arise when policymakers, who rely on corporate donations for election funding, implement policies that insulate corporate giants from competition and responsibility for actions and externalities. The self-regulating function of free market systems become null and void when consumers lack viable alternatives. Much of the issue are direct results of public policy. 

Government relies on market players to aid in shaping regulations and rules of behaviors. Not a partisan practice, but a needed one because of the insight and reach of these organizations. At times, regulations meant to protect consumers can help isolate the firm from competition, as those in the market will already have the infrastructure and compliance in place. Consider the difficulties in competing with public utilities, airlines, or health systems. The barriers of entry keep competition out and eventually raise prices on consumers. 

The presence of difficult economic environments also helps drive the problem as market consolidation occurs. During the Obama Era, there was a great level of market consolidation as firms combined to gain scale in search of profitability. Unfortunately, few new entrants came into these markets as little financial incentives existed. The famous rule of three came much faster than anticipated, which states that mature markets eventually become dominated by three participants. 

The consolidation of markets, whether through natural monopolies or socialism, is not optimal for positive economic outcomes. Many of the proponents of socialist economic principles overlook the proven flaws of single payer or single provider markets. Instead, they focus one potential short-term benefits, which rarely stand the test of time. Monopolistic industries can produce efficiency through economies of scale. The savings are not always transferred to the consumer, or in the case of public operators, passed on to the citizens. 

There are many examples of monopolistic markets in the United States, many of which were purposely created through public policy. For instance, operators of certain forms of transportation are generally protected from competition. Until recently, many public utilities operate in protected markets, providing consumers with one option. If socialist backers were right, these entities would provide consumers with affordable and high-quality services. Instead, customers of government provided services typically face higher prices in the long run, service outages, and lack of freedom to change. 

The answer to addressing corporatism is not shifting influence from corporate boardrooms to government bureaucrats. Americans do not desire resource rations, abject poverty, or denial of service, but opportunity and self-determination. Instead, policymakers can combat corporatism and income inequality through implementing policies that expand market competition and choice for consumers and workers. Creating environments where small and medium sized businesses can compete for customers and spread out distribution of profits and income is good for the economy. Consumers benefit from greater choices and enhanced market power. 

Consider the impact of market disruptions, especially in the case of companies like Uber. In many metropolitan markets, few taxicab companies dominate markets due to regulatory structures that prevent open competition, leaving many people paying a great deal of money for service they dislike. When Uber and Lyft disrupting the transportation ecosystem in many of these markets, the new competition forced these taxi companies to rethink their operations and the customer service to compete to earn business from consumers. Initially, many of these companies used their influence with policymakers to blunt growth of Uber and Lyft, but consumer demand was high enough to counter the effect. Companies should not utilize closeness with government to protect profitability, which is essential in socialist economies, but compete for consumer dollars by providing value. 

The expansion of choice helped provided new opportunities for scholars in public education and higher education. The United States has the most expensive public education system in the world, which is in a constant state of decline. While higher education has greater competition, regulation, and public financing shield leaders from truly competing on a cost basis. The presence of charter and private schools as well as lower cost for-profit institutions create forces for change and better cost propositions. There are some needs to address, but expanding choice helps provide certain students avenues for achieving their educational needs and economic outcomes. 

Choice and competition are essential to reducing the impact of corporatism and helping fight income inequality. Public policy that overtly restricts entry to certain markets need to be reviewed to improve access to markets. Quality standards are important, but many regulations are heavily influenced by large market providers. Some protect the market share of these large corporations without any real benefit to consumers. There may be more opportunities to provide temporary exemptions to allow small and medium size businesses to compete. 

Government should not decide winners or losers in markets, but, if incentives are needed, these deals should go to entities that need it. Which is fairer? Low tax environments for all businesses or high tax environment with sweetheart tax deals for select businesses? Obviously, the one with that treats all the same. If tax incentives are needed, it should go to small and medium sized businesses to help ensure market competition. 

Promoting competition expand choice and consumer market power. The market is more effective in providing customized affordable goods and services than government bureaucrats. In any market, producers will target select customer bases in order to maximize profitability. Not all producers can meet all the needs of customers and customers might not find all market offerings as equal substitutes. Generally, the more choices consumers have the greater likelihood each individual is able to find solutions that meet the needs of their households. 

Proponents of single payer health system believe society will be better off is power is shifted from private insurance providers to a centralized government entity. These people are wrong. A one size fit all plan may benefit the government coffers in the short term but will provide great market inefficiencies in the long term. Instead, policymakers should reduce geographic barriers that elevate price and focus on greater transparency and education among patient. There are many areas where health systems provide unnecessary services simply to generate revenue but does not directly improve patient care outcomes. 

Corporations do have more than their fair share of influence in our society. That power needs to go back to the people, not shifted to government bureaucrats, who too have too much power. Our vibrant private sector and free market economy provide more opportunity and created more innovation than any government program. Government has its role in society. Let’s keep it limited to what it can do well.