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."