Corporatist America

Geoffrey Lawrence

As my friend Veronique de Rugy comments in her column yesterday:



Business people love to say how much they cherish free markets, all the while decrying government that limits entrepreneurialism and personal freedom.

But the truth is there is nothing most business people like less than free markets.


Veronique tells the story of embalmers and funeral directors in Louisiana who leaned on the state, using their political connections, to regulate away their competition – carving out a cartel for themselves. You see, the monks of St. Joseph Abbey provided for their needs by making and selling simple wooden caskets, lowering consumers' demand for the high-priced caskets sold at the state's funeral homes. While this was of obvious benefit to many of the low-income families in Louisiana burdened with the task of burying a loved one, the funeral directors knew they could make more money if the state forced these low-income families to purchase more expensive caskets from funeral homes – even if it meant squeezing the families' ability to feed their children.

So goes the tale of Corporatist America: It is the unending collusion of rent-seeking, pseudo-capitalists using their political connections to establish legal monopolies or cartels. The action subverts the rule of law, injures consumers and lowers the national standard of living. And it happens every day.

Murray Rothbard wrote incessantly about how the Federal Reserve System was purposefully designed by its member banks to establish for themselves a legal cartel wherewith to plunder the people.

Frederic Bastiat once wrote an excellent parody of this form of behavior in his famous "Candlemakers' Petition."

A story from yesterday's Las Vegas Sun details the same story once again right here in Clark County. Large gaming interests are appealing to the county commission in an effort to use the regulatory system to shut down competition from small taverns and bars operating slot machines.

The story is just part of a continuing theme of Western civilization: Never trust capitalism to the so-called "capitalists."



Geoffrey Lawrence

Geoffrey Lawrence

Director of Research

Geoffrey Lawrence is director of research at Nevada Policy.

Lawrence has broad experience as a financial executive in the public and private sectors and as a think tank analyst. Lawrence has been Chief Financial Officer of several growth-stage and publicly traded manufacturing companies and managed all financial reporting, internal control, and external compliance efforts with regulatory agencies including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  Lawrence has also served as the senior appointee to the Nevada State Controller’s Office, where he oversaw the state’s external financial reporting, covering nearly $10 billion in annual transactions. During each year of Lawrence’s tenure, the state received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Award from the Government Finance Officers’ Association.

From 2008 to 2014, Lawrence was director of research and legislative affairs at Nevada Policy and helped the institute develop its platform of ideas to advance and defend a free society.  Lawrence has also written for the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation, with particular expertise in state budgets and labor economics.  He was delighted at the opportunity to return to Nevada Policy in 2022 while concurrently serving as research director at the Reason Foundation.

Lawrence holds an M.A. in international economics from American University in Washington, D.C., an M.S. and a B.S. in accounting from Western Governors University, and a B.A. in international relations from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.  He lives in Las Vegas with his beautiful wife, Jenna, and their two kids, Carson Hayek and Sage Aynne.