When people engage in debate about the market, there is frequently an almost mediate division based on the left-right political spectrum. This remains true even though we can see many examples of error from both sides. On the other hand, those who engage in detailed conversation about what the markets should look like and what role government should have in the marketplace ultimately find a great deal of agreement. The disagreement, it seems, comes mostly from those who have self-interest in reserving a position of power, and those who are deliberately misinformed by them.
One of the more vocal voices in this country proclaiming the “evils” of the left is Glenn Beck. Beck professes to be essentially libertarian. It is the economic libertarian position that markets should be left to fend for themselves and that no government regulation is necessary nor desirable. However, a closer look at some of the specific details may reveal some surprising agreements we might have with Beck.
Beck has repeatedly lauded a book called The 500 Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen, published in 1981. Part II of the book is divided into 28 chapters, each explaining a principle of America’s founding. Principle number 15 is entitled, “The Highest Level of Prosperity Occurs when there is a Free-Market Economy and a Minimum of Government Regulations.” In a part of the chapter, Skousen explains several aspects of the free market as viewed by Adam Smith. He points out several fundamentals that he summarizes as Smith’s view of economics:
1. Specialized production—let each person or corporation of persons do what they do best.
2. Exchange of goods takes place in a freemarket environment without governmental interference in production, prices, or wages.
3. The free market provides the needs of the people on the basis of supply and demand, with no government-imposed monopolies.
4. Prices are regulated by competition of the basis of supply and demand.
5. Profits are looked upon as the means by which production of goods and services is made worthwhile.
6. Competition is looked upon as the means by which quality is improved, quantity is increased, and prices are reduced.
Skousen then goes into a short description of what he calls the “Four Laws of Economic Freedom.” He says, “Prosperity also depends on a climate of wholesome stimulation protected by law. Reduced to its simplest formula, there are four laws of economic freedom which a nation must maintain if its people are to prosper at the maximum level.
1. The Freedom to try.
2. The Freedom to buy.
3. The Freedom to sell.
4. The Freedom to fail.
Finally, he devotes a short section to the role of government in economics. After listing a number of unwise roles government has historically played in economics, he says, “Nevertheless, there are four areas of legitimate responsibility which properly belong to government. These involve the policing responsibilities of government to prevent:
1. ILLEGAL FORCE in the market place to compel purchase or sale of products.
2. FRAUD in misrepresenting the quality, location, or ownership of the item being sold or bought.
3. MONOPOLY which eliminates competition and results in restraint of trade.
4. DEBAUCHERY of the cultural standards and moral fiber of society by commercial exploitation of vice—pornography, obscenity, drugs, liquor, prostitution, or commercial gambling.”
It is interesting to see that when we get down to the level of specific detail, That we can find that even Glenn Beck, who is considered by some a right wing extremist, and by others a national hero, promotes free-market principles very much like OCM.
The bottom line here is that this provides evidence that OCM does not need to place itself somewhere on the political spectrum. Such a placement does not apply. We are not standing for a particular ideology, but for common sense. And sometimes common sense appears in the most unexpected places. RS