The Free Market Shouldn't Be Just For
The United States and the Soviet Union provided a side-by-side experiment directly comparing a free market economy to a centrally planned and controlled one. The experiment ran for 70 years but no one had to wait for the end to figure out which system provided superior results in all areas, except two, of human endeavor. Those two exceptions were corruption and despotism. Both flourished in the Soviet Union while the people starved.
Centralized planning and control diminishes liberty and concentrates power without concentrating knowledge. The free market, built on liberty, does not concentrate power or knowledge. It leaves both where they can be most effectively used, with the individual person. The U.S. with its free market flourished while the Soviet Union struggled and finally collapsed in 1991.
Centralized planning and control of an economy is recognized as a failed idea by all but the dedicated Left in America and other countries. Indeed, the American Left still favors it in all areas of society and pursues the growth of government relentlessly. Even some Americans who are not explicit Lefties still favor centralized planning and control for other areas of society, for example elections and speech.
The Free Market for Ideas
In the pursuit of wealth and happiness, the economy is the battlefield and money is the artillery. In the pursuit of power in a free country, politics is the battlefield and communication is the artillery. An economy operates best if the playing field can be made as level as possible with as few rules as possible. The same can be said of politics.
Parties and their candidates have ideas thatthey want to communicate to voters in order to get elected. What they communicate may be truth or it may be misleading. It's the competition between the parties and between the candidates that is the best process available to the voter for sorting out the truth.
Assault on the First Amendment
Late in 2002 John McCain succeeded, with the help of co-sponsor Russ Feingold, in his efforts to enact a law that greatly increased federal control of campaign financing. He chose one approach from among many to solve a problem that had touched him personally and damaged him politically. The direction he took was away from freedom, away from personal liberty and specifically away from the First Amendment.
In our world, money buys communication. If the money is regulated communication is regulated but not necessarily equally for everybody. On 3/23/2005, the Wall Street Journal has this to say about the McCain/Feingold Campaign Finance Reform law.:
The internet had become the loophole in McCain/Feingold with predictable results. The WSJ goes on to say this:
Which of these is more desirable in a free society, A - rules designed so that less is communicated or, B - rules designed so that more is communicated? This is not to say more messages should be communicated, it is to say more information should be included in the message. Who is sponsoring the message, who is donating to the candidate, how much of the total funding is this sponsor or group of similar sponsors providing? Answers to these would all be good information to have when deciding how to vote. If you hear a message asking you to call your senator and praise or object to a bill that had something to do with import taxes on sugar would it be helpful to know if that message was sponsored by a sugar producer or a soft drink manufacturer?
McCain's earlier attempt at Campaign reform legislation actually went in this direction. Here's a press release from his own website, note the date.
In mid 2000 it seemed, John McCain had more regard for the First Amendment. Seventeen months later however, his McCain/Feingold bill became effective. It is hard to imagine how McCain/Feingold could have moved in a more perfectly opposite direction. McCain/Feingold was put to its first test in the 2004 national campaign. It turned out to be pretty bad for politics in general. Browsing the internet will turn up plenty of opinions both pro and con but the ones pointing out the flaws in the legislation tend more to be fact-based and less demagogic.
John McCain's position today
In USA Today dated 11/3/2004 John McCain said:
He ended the article with this:
Evidently, John McCain is committed to expanding his assault on the First Amendment. His leadership tendencies in this critical area are toward less freedom and more regulation. Even if this tactic was purposed to give his party an advantage over opponent parties, this assault on the First Amendment is inexcusable. A CATO Institute article of 3/17/04 available here ends with this:
The rumblings are growing weekly that John McCain is the Republican party's obvious choice for presidential candidate in 2008. Given his position on free speech alone, John McCain would make a very poor choice for Republican candidate for President of the United States.