No Capitalist Candidate

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

John Stossel recently wrote about his television interview with Ann Coulter regarding whether Mitt Romney's assorted pledges to preserve several big government programs (or parts thereof) reveal him to be just the latest big government GOP candidate or a panderer (which I read as: coward).

Although I support Romney in this election, I am holding my nose as I do, and this interview gives a good glimpse of why:

Romney says he'll repeal Obamacare. Great! But he wants to keep popular parts: coverage for pre-existing conditions and keeping grown kids on their parents' policies until age 26. Those mandates are popular. But that's not insurance. That's welfare.

"If we do not repeal Obamacare in the next few years, America takes the first step into 1,000 years of darkness. ... Romney is far more free market than any recent Republican candidate, including George Bush. What Romney is talking about here is the free market."

But that's not the free market. It's a forced handout.
Stossel is right about that, but Coulter inadvertently raises an important point: There aren't degrees of being pro-capitalist. Either you reject the use of government force for any purpose other than the protection of individual rights or you don't. Romney clearly thinks government force is sometimes warranted outside the proper scope of government -- but probably less often and usually to a lesser extent than Obama. Romney is not as bad as Obama, but he is no Ayn Rand.

What would a truly pro-capitalist candidate look like? For one thing, he would be clear that all welfare programs are morally wrong and not proper government -- and for those reasons should be abolished. For another, any talk on his part of continuing any such program in any form would be in terms of sunsetting it or otherwise transitioning to capitalism. For example, Coulter -- probably reading too much of what she wants to see into Romney -- sees him instituting school vouchers. But so what? Unless vouchers are explicitly intended as a mechanism to move us towards a wholly private educational sector, they are just another form of state control.

It is likely too soon for such a candidate to win office, and Romney is likely close to the least bad choice our current culture can produce or permit to be elected. Those who understand and support capitalism would do well to (1) limit our expectations of what Romney can do for us to a buying of time compared to a second Obama term, and (2) not allow Romney's continuance of statist policies to masquerade as capitalism. (How does this make it any easier for persuadable non-capitalists to learn what capitalism is, or why it is better than central "planning"?) For that reason, I am glad Stossel did this interview, although I may or may not find that I disagree with his ideas about what our national defense budget should look like. (I agree that it ultimately could and should be less expensive, but am not so sure that, under current circumstances, we don't need to increase military spending, perhaps by a large amount.)

-- CAV

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