Many prominent American figures claim to be proponents of free markets but in practice advocate neomercantilist, corporate welfare policies. These policies eventually, and unsurprisingly, lead to disastrous economic and social consequences. These catastrophes are then blamed on capitalism, free markets, and deregulation, at which point, socialists are easily able to convince the distraught public that capitalism is a failed experiment and only massive government intervention in the markets can save them. Such is the way that capitalism dies.
–Briggs Armstrong “The Enemies of Capitalism” 01-27-09
“I’ve abandoned free-market principles in order to save the free-market system.”
—George Bush on CNN
“I’m a market-oriented guy, but not when I’m faced with the prospect of a global meltdown.” —George Bush before the G-20 summit.
When one of the nation’s most visible proponents of capitalism claims that he has abandoned it, because, without big-government policies, capitalism itself would be destroyed, there remains little work for those who desire socialism. Thus it is easy to see how those who believe Bush to be a true capitalist could be persuaded to accept the propaganda that the free market has failed, and that government must step in to save the day.
Before we try to untangle the causes of financial crises, or attempt to project the effect of proposed remedies, let’s get our definitions straight.