Friday, August 06, 2010

Slippery Slope

Many like myself criticize government regulations and intervention by saying that while the act may seem and sound reasonable now, it will lead to ever more invasive actions. We talk of the slippery slope. We have, for years, suggested that increased regulations were, instead of protecting people, were going to lead to the OPPOSITE of freedom. And all along, we have been dismissed and chastised for "fearmongering" or simply exaggerating.

One of my personal favorites when decrying regulations was to suggest that if it doesn't stop, pretty soon 10 year olds' lemonade stands will be forced to submit to health inspectors and apply for a permit or be forced to shut down. And, predictably, I've been accused of using an absurd fallacy to make my point.

However, the slippery slope exists and while the results are absurd, it's not fallacious to be wary of it.

Along similar lines, people like myself have also argued that a truly free market has not existed for years ... like 150 years at least (if ever). While it's sometimes difficult to see the negative impacts of federal intervention, this is a great example to see how even local govt intervention can distort a market in favor of those with political ties. What's bad is that this kind of government "preferential" intervention goes back forever. Even in the mid-1800's, when the concept of robber barons and of industry's tyrannical oppression of its customers really began, we can look closer and see that most such instances (I would recommend you read the entire book or hopefully that first section, but at least read a page or two starting half way down page 12) were actually cases of govt intervention ending a free market and creating a preferred market for a specific preferential industry, business, or person.

Anyone that even TRIES to argue that the US is a free market is so removed from reality as to be dismissible. Keep these stories in your back pockets the next time someone says that the "free market" failed or that "free market capitalism" is the cause of our problems.