Corporate Accountability in a Free Market

One of the most common arguments against the free market, and it’s as old as the birth of social crusades, is that corporations powered by greed will do anything to anyone to make a buck if the market is entirely unregulated.

But it is regularly overlooked that a regulated market has even more possibility for corruption and greed than a free market does. Just look at the recent GM debacle revolving around faulty ignitions. GM was under the direct oversight of the civil government. GM was about as close to being a government-controlled corporation as any once private business has ever been. And did that closeness protect the American people from corruption? No. It made it worse. Recent evidence suggests that GM lied to its civil government nannies about the faulty ignition switches. And what will the civil government do about it? What could they do? If they weren’t willing to let GM die before, why would they now?

The civil government tampered with the market when it bailed GM out of bankruptcy in the first place. And now Americans are dead because of it. Don’t try to tell me otherwise. GM has been failing the American people for decades. They are slow to serve the market, slow to innovate, and terrible at making durable cars. There’s a reason they were going bankrupt. And the civil government should have let that happen.

If GM had gone bankrupt, they never would have made another faulty ignition, and the many Americans who have suffered for their institutionalized incompetence would have gotten a better product elsewhere—and, in some cases, a few more years of life.

Capitalist greed didn’t make this happen. Unless you think government greed counts as capitalist greed. Corporations are not to blame for this, unless you count the government as a corporation. And, most of all, the free market is not to blame for this. This is a classic example of why we need the free market.

What people fail to understand is that an unregulated free market does not suspend civil and criminal law. If, as it is now coming to light, GM knowingly sold cars it knew could be dangerous, criminal law requires that each knowing person is subject to charges for the lives lost.

It is not “regulating the free market” to press charges against a corporation for criminal negligence. If a corporation knowingly dumps pollution in a water source (or does not have or does not enforce measures to prevent this), that corporation must be held responsible when people get hurt or property is devalued. This is not a market regulation. This is just upholding the rule of law.

Capitalism doesn’t require the suspension of laws to function. In fact, it requires the opposite. The civil government doesn’t need to regulate the economy or break up monopolies or anything of the sort to protect the consumer. All the civil government needs to do is hold criminals accountable when they break the law. Corporations are not above this. Well, they shouldn’t be. But corporations mean big money mean big lobbying power. And in the game of crony capitalism, palm-greasing is the quickest way to skirt real labor and responsibility in your relentless pursuit of the bottom line.

44 responses

  1. Free markets have never worked. Standards for weights and measures were among the first controls of merchants playing games with consumers. Get over it – markets have never been free, and free markets is a lunatic concept.

    • Common sense and safety regulations are one thing. But tie down businesses with too many rules, most that are unnecessary, and you get backdoor rebellious acts. Just like with a teenager. You become too over burdening, they want to listen less.

      • Years ago as a freshman economics student, I was struck by the fact that the volume of literature critical of free markets was overwhelming compared to pro-free market literature. In fact, about the only pro-literature was typical Ayn Rand mental pablum fantasy about the ‘individual’ triumphing against evil society. If a democratic society imposes controls on free markets – well, tough nuts.

        • I hardly consider requiring doctor’s that perform abortions to have medical admission to a nearby hospital raking over the coals. Two reasons: 1) they are doctors. Why would a doctor not be allowed to a hospital if they are certified, reliable, and following medical procedures? 2) if its all about woman’s health (which abortion isn’t in any way shape or form to begin with), wouldn’t you want as much precaution and medical help as possible?

          • The regulations against Planned Parenthood are designed to bully Americans who want choice. It’s very transparent what’s going on. Conservatives want a case going to The Supreme Court.

        • Love to hear men tout the wonders of Planned Parenthood!
          Happy they’re around, aren’t you, ws?
          All PP does for men is prevents them from having to deal with one of their “mistakes”.
          The mother will have to live with the thought she killed her own child for the rest of her life.
          Have you ever thought of it from her point of view?

          • Conservatives aren’t interested in a woman’s point of view. Even female conservative politicians are their own worst enemies. This week one woman said that in order to reach out to women you have to talk down to their level.

          • OMG… do you fall for anything you hear?

            IYO, that may be true of female politicians,
            but I don’t see it that way. If we don’t like what a female politician has to say, WE VOTE HER OUT OF OFFICE…

          • PP does much more for woman then provide them with abortions. Abortion is obviously a difficult decision for a woman but it should be her decision to make. After all, it is her body!

        • All I have to say is question your commitment to the democratic process – if that’s what the majority wants, tough nuts to you. Or maybe you prefer a form of fascism, eh?

      • If we haven’t learned the Wall Street needs some regulations after the last financial crisis we NEVER will! I mean what could possibly go wrong with $16 trillion in unregulated trades???

    • How long have you lived in the USA?
      A free market economy is based on supply and demand with no government control. Here in the U.S. we have accepted limited govt intervention, but the economy is still considered free market.

      America is suffering with a president who totally misunderstands the basis of a free market. A FM economy is what’s led America to become the richest, most prosperous nation in the history of the world.

      That is… until Barrack Obama came along…

      • Hate to break it to you Jessica, but free markets is a political concept, not one based on economic science. Since the beginning of written history, free markets have been known not to work and regulations are as old as humanity itself. And if you understood history, you would know America’s economy has hardly been free, with programs like the new deal, and war spending during the Vietnam era. In fact, if you chart standard of living and other factors, it is unionization that has led to America’s high standard of living – NOT capitalism! Capitalism is great for capitalist; not so great for the rest of us. And BTW, this supply and demand thing is also fake; economist have nothing to say about supply; what they have s called the ‘Law of Demand.’

        • We have plenty of regulated industries within our free market. I wouldn’t mind if we removed all govt controls from farming, but a lot of low income families would suffer.
          Farmers would do fine since we HAVE TO HAVE FOOD…
          (didn’t you study this in any of your business classes??)

  2. How can free market be blamed when free market does not exist, never existed and probably would never exist. Everything and every activity is controlled by government in the form of taxation, regulation monetary policy, etc.

        • Republicans are more concerned with keeping their jobs in Congress than they are about their constituents. It’s why John Boehner is the worst speaker in US history.

          John Boehner is pulling your leg too. He threatens to sue The President as a ploy to stop the far right from yelling impeachment. Corporate Republicans are “managing” conservative voters & the extreme right. You’re being “managed” and you still vote for them.

          • You are a cornucopia of leftist talking points who votes for a party that opposes and seeks to destroy what built this country and made it the greatest nation on earth and you have the gall to throw stones. You and your far left kooks are like frogs in pot of water on the stove who will be cooked before you realize you are in hot water.

  3. Mr. Minkoff, our country is part socialist and part capitalism. One cannot exist without the other in all democracies. That balance has been in the process of being tipped towards pure capitalism. That trend is dissolving the middle class and bringing down wages. Wages that haven’t gone down have stagnated for at least ten yrs.
    What conservatives refuse to believe is that Medicare and Social Security are socialist in nature and designed by liberals. So here’s the question; Are seniors in the GOP in favor of getting rid of medicare? If yes, then get out your bootstraps and lift yourselves ALL on your own.

        • The Koch brothers run the GOP. Look up Koch brothers & Kansas in Google. Their conservative social experiment there is a flop. Moderate Republicans are going to vote for Democrats. One Republican was interviewed on MSNBC. He said that moderates are finally speaking to each other. Yes, they’re still against abortion but they value education for their children. They’re sick of the extremes on the far right making cuts to education and borrowing money in order to cut taxes..

          • It might be hard for you to understand, but there are certain values some people are unwilling on which to compromise. Maybe that’s what has pushed me so far to the right, because I see the left destroying the morality and decency of this great country.

            And you call it fairness and equality.
            Who are you kidding?

      • You should do some research and find out how much unearned wealth has been gravitating towards the top. Why don’t you take a night course on 20th Century American economics? When Eisenhower was President the richest Americans paid a 92% income tax rate. There were fewer tax loopholes and the middle class growth exploded. Now we’re being picked off one by one because of conservative policies.

    • Show me a conservative who doesn’t think social security and Medicare are pure socialism??? Most conservatives are willing to accept limited government intervention to provide limited social services.

      But I bet most conservatives recognize the harm this expanded socialist intervention is doing to our economy (as well as to the individual citizens in the form of forcing a nanny state).

      To answer your question as to whether GOP seniors are willing to get rid of Medicare… why should they? They’ve paid into it for 40-50 years.
      Like with health insurance, let the actuaries and doctors mediate a plan… Just keep the name OBAMACARE away from it!!!

      • You evaded the fact that Medicare is a socialist program. Republicans fought hard against it. Didn’t you see the the party rallies a few years ago? Seniors were screaming for Obama to keep his hands off their Medicare.
        Conservatives keep voting against their own interests. It’s a shame.

        • No, I didn’t.
          I said we live in an economy considered a free market (with limited govt controls).
          Conservative seniors (and I) agree – Obama should keep his hands off of Medicare monies.

      • It’s a fallacy that limited government is the principled stand of conservatives. It’s only limited to the shit they want to do!

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