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Joe Biden’s Pro-Market Agenda

Summary:
With a new executive order cracking down on anti-competitive practices across the US economy, President Joe Biden has set his sights on a problem that has been building for years. Workers, consumers, and small businesses are all being shortchanged, and it is government, not the market, that offers them the best hope. NEW YORK – For free-marketeers, government is always the bad guy. As President Ronald Reagan memorably put it in his first inaugural address, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” The Variant Threat Is Real OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images The Rise of the

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With a new executive order cracking down on anti-competitive practices across the US economy, President Joe Biden has set his sights on a problem that has been building for years. Workers, consumers, and small businesses are all being shortchanged, and it is government, not the market, that offers them the best hope.

NEW YORK – For free-marketeers, government is always the bad guy. As President Ronald Reagan memorably put it in his first inaugural address, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

Since the 1980s, markets have been idealized as the only way to achieve an optimal allocation of resources. A sound economy is guided by the spirit of entrepreneurialism, not politics, because the price mechanism reliably conveys information about the value of goods and services. Buyers bid, sellers sell to the highest bidder, and all parties are well-informed, rational decision-makers. An equilibrium price is always reached, ensuring an efficient outcome. It’s a perfect world.

The real world, however, is not perfect. Market participants face transaction and information costs. Negative externalities and market failures are inevitable. Even ardent advocates of laissez-faire agree that some government intervention is sometimes needed, though the state should not do anything that will distort market outcomes.

But what if the greater distortion is coming from market players themselves? Given that today’s overlapping financial, health, and climate crises are fundamentally different from the “present crisis” that Reagan had in mind, we should consider whether it is now the market that is the problem.

The current US administration seems to think so. President Joe Biden’s July 9, 2021,...

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