Obama's 'Free Markets?'

“Contrary to the claims of some of my — some of my critics, and some of the editorial pages, I am an ardent believer in the free market,” Obama told the group from the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, D.C this afternoon.  “I want everyone in this room to succeed.  I want your shareholders to do well, I want your workers to do well, I want you to do well.  Because I firmly believe that America’s success in large part depends on your success, internationally.”  Jake Tapper’s Political Punch on ABCNews.com Feb. 24, 2010

Free markets?  Really.  Is that the new line Obama’s trying to sell.  Capitalism, which is control of the means of production by the owner(s), is now his best friend.  Free markets, where the supply and demand mediate prices, are his new hallmark.  I’m a little reluctant to believe his argument.  Either that, or Barack Obama is not bright enough to understand what ‘free’ and ‘capitalist’ really mean.  I mean, to understand what they are actually like in practice.  His tune was quite different last year.

There will be time for them to make profits, and there will be time for them to get bonuses — now is not that time. And that’s a message that I intend to send directly to them.”  President Obama on January 30, 2009

Free markets denote a profit motive and ability to make a profit exists whenever the conditions allow it.  They are not dependant upon the attitude of the government, the feelings of the populace, or the price of tea in China.  In a ‘free’ market, the consumer and the producer are allowed to exchange goods and services to their mutual benefit thus creating profit potentially on both sides of the transaction.  There is no ‘special’ time for profits.  There is no ‘prescribed’ time when a president or a Congress decide to ‘let’ profits exist.  In a truly ‘free market’ they occur naturally and fluidly regardless of the will of the political or social establishment. 

But, his apparent misunderstanding of markets becomes even more obvious less than a month after these comments.

“Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market.” He said that regulations are needed to make business both profitable and socially responsible. “It is time to put in place tough, new common-sense rules of the road so that our financial market rewards drive and innovation, and punishes short-cuts and abuse.” Peter Dreier – February 25, 2009 Talking Points Memo.

Once again, ‘free markets’ are not dependent upon a governmental body to give leave.  They can be socially responsible, or not, and that decision is entirely for the profiteers to make.  Abuse is its own punishment in free markets.  A swindler can be sued and charged with fraud.  A mere cheat will be exposed as a fraud and the marketplace will eschew him.  An enterprise that wisely invests its profits in its business, will grow and prosper.  A foolish, short-sighted one will have fewer investors and will eventually go belly up.  It is not ‘free markets’ that are the problem.  It is the leftwing punishment of some and subsidizing others that makes the market inequitable. 

But, I guess the Progressive idea of free is different than mine.  Free, to them, seems to be a license to boss around and corrupt.