Conservatives and liberals are close to agreeing on how the economy should work. Both sides need to define their views, compare their beliefs and they will find many similarities.
Conservatives believe that the free market is the way to go. They quote Adam Smith when he discussed “rational self interest” and competitive markets in his book Wealth of Nations. He envisioned many consumers buying goods and services from many producers with everyone looking out for their self-interest. By keeping markets “free”, conservatives believe if producers pursue rational self-interest they will best meet the needs of the consumers and the citizens of our country. If they do not, they will not survive and consumers will go elsewhere.
Liberals say corporate America has gotten out of control. Producers are looking out for their self-interest at the price of the average consumer/citizen and that “rational self-interest” is not working. Liberals conclude they should tighten control over the producer/corporations.
Liberals and conservatives lost track of a key ingredient that Adam Smith identified as necessary in order for “rational self interest” to work. There must be many producers. In too many industries, the number of producers has shrunk and the ones remaining have gotten “too big to fail”. This is true in the auto industry, the banking industry and will soon be true in the computer software industry.
The liberals are right that regulation is required and conservatives are right that a free market is the best way to meet the needs and wants of our citizens. The common ground is that regulation is essential to make our markets more free. We have too many industries where companies have too much power and they are too big to fail.
Lets’ free our markets, from not only governments but also oligopolies, and watch the American worker and entrepreneurs thrive in the world economy.