credit Microsoft Office

Why Conservative? Some Refletions on the Free Market

I’m not an economist. My academic thoughts on the free market wouldn’t be worth very much. But I like competition. It usually turns out the best for me and anyone else who consumes goods and services and appreciates getting the best value for their hard-earned dollars..

The free market also bodes well for people who are dissatisfied with their current financial situation and hope for a better future. To put it in social work parlance, “Every individual, family, and community has strengths.” If an individual, family, or community wants to turn valuable strengths (skills, assets, resources) into something profitable, something that improves prospects and open up opportunities, then their should be very little standing in their way from the government. Remember,

To establish a government based on the consent of the governed, as the Declaration of Independence makes clear, they gave up only that portion of their rights necessary to create a limited government of the kind needed to secure all of their rights. Justice Clarence Thomas

When rural communities have a need for broadband access, why is it that the government is the go-to entity to provide it? Like electric, gas, and water, internet access is coming to be treated as a utility. That means the government and non-profit entities funded by government can get in on the action, have unfair advantages, and suffer little from competition that would otherwise prompt innovation and high-quality service.

Also, these utilities would be providing something that could be handled by free market solutions, in a much more effective manner than government dollars and all its various attached strings could provide.

Governor Haslam’s proposal to extend broadband access to rural communities as a utility, with $45 million investment by the state, would mean more favoritism and less freedom of choice than there is currently. In the words of a Chamber of Commerce employee I spoke to recently, “I’m for doing the most good for the most people,” while also agreeing with me that the free market is the best for solving problems. The two views don’t mesh in the real world, however. Advocating that the government “just do something,” as is so often the case, would limit options for private sector entities while giving favored status to public providers and nonprofit cooperatives.

Remember, what the government pays for, the government controls. Also, that which the government pays for, is paid for with our money. If we were spending our own money, we would make better choices in terms of quality and cost. In a study of municipal broadband internet providers, it was found that taxpayer money has been wasted to the tune of millions of dollars. Two hundred such utilities were discovered nationwide, 11 of which are in Tennessee.

In speaking with an elected state representative recently, he agreed initially that we need no more government involvement than necessary, before falling back on the tired excuse that “If private providers cherry-pick and don’t serve the kids in the country that don’t have internet to do their homework with,” then something has to be done. “Something” gets us in trouble much faster than “nothing” more times than not.

When hospitals start closing and individuals need health insurance in the wake of a massive federal initiative like Obamacare, it is shocking that the pleas would be for the state of Tennessee to accept more federal money for more healthcare for those in the “doughnut hole,” those who make too much to qualify for Obamacare subsidies, but too little to afford buying health insurance on their own.

Everything government touches gets too expensive for the average person or family to afford. So as we expect Obamacare and its Medicaid expansion plans to go the way of repeal, House Republicans roll out their “replacement” plan, leaving in it all the Obamacare regulations and subsides, while removing the mandate to buy and expanding eligibility to the doughnut hole, and beyond. All of this while adding to the amount they will give the states to expand Medicaid.

Instead of returning healthcare to patients, doctors, and the free market, the plan is to press ahead with a system that is even further doomed to failure. Businesses (including hospitals) close when the service they provide is unaffordable, and quality of service or care suffers when businesses (right, including hospitals) are not accountable to the people they serve.

When your compassion goes no further than mandating what your neighbor must pay to meet the needs of others, then your compassion is empty and meaningless. More on that to come.

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