What’s the biggest threat to economic freedom? An answer I’m hearing more and more often today is cronyism—businessmen seeking special favors from government.
There’s no question that a lot of businessmen are in bed with government—that they are asking for and getting special favors, exemptions, subsidies, and controls. But that is only one part of today’s real problem: the mixed economy.
Cronyism is not a system all its own. It is a product of today’s mixture of capitalism and state control. Under capitalism, the government’s only role is to protect voluntary trade by barring the initiation of force from human relationships. But once the government itself starts initiating force—regulating this, redistributing that, picking winners and losers—then the only thing that can result is pressure group warfare. One group lobbies for its favor, another group lobbies for its, all resulting in more and more government burdens placed on the rest of us.
Frankly I think putting the focus on cronyism is a copout. I suspect that for some at least it’s a way to try to curry favor with the left by blaming businessmen for today’s problems.