If I Were on the Left
By Arnold Kling
I do not think that I would find Arthur Brooks persuasive. He writes,
Free markets and entrepreneurship are driven not by greed but by earned success.
He gives examples. I would give counter-examples. I would say that regulation is needed in order to ensure that success is properly earned rather than the result of selling snake oil. I would say that government must play a large role in order to provide equal opportunity and to correct market failures.
In truth, I am not on the left. But long-time readers know that I do not claim that markets work. Instead, I say “Markets fail. Use markets.”
It is not the left’s criticisms of markets that I reject. What I reject is the assumption that imperfect human beings working within the context of a centralized, monopolistic institution (government) with enforcement powers can correct the flaws in decentralized, competitive system that relies on voluntary exchange.
I share the left’s view that market often work badly. I think that people on the left share my view that government often works poorly. Where I claim the difference lies is that people on the left believe that with sufficient moral authority, government can be made to work better. I see government failure as intrinsic to its centralized, monopolistic structure.