James Taggart is Alive and Well

In my Forbes column this week, I publish an essay I wrote for an Americans for Prosperity event commemorating Milton Friedman's birthday.  A brief excerpt:

Having once been successful through excellence, leading businesses typically get lazy and senescent, and become vulnerable to more innovative, lower-cost or more nimble new competitors.  Sears lost its electronics sales to Circuit City, which in turn succumbed to Best Buy, which is now struggling to compete with Wal-Mart, who is being challenged by Amazon.com.

Unfortunately, businesses that were once successful can feel a sense of entitlement, believing that this new competition is somehow unfair, or that consumers are somehow misguided in taking their business elsewhere.  When they have money or political connections, these businesses may run to Congress and beg for special protections against competition, or even new subsidies, mandates, stimulus projects, and bailouts.

Where is the threat to capitalism and individual liberty coming from today?  Is it from some aggrieved proletariat, or is the threat from bailed out Wall Street firms, and AIG, and GM, and Chrysler, and ethanol manufacturers, and electric car makers, and windmill builders?



  1. Ted Rado:

    Our country was founded on the principle of free enterprise, individual initiative, and hard work. Many now seem to believe that government can manage everything and provide for all our needs. This removes all incentive and leads to reducing us to a nation of deadbeats with our hands out, with no reason to work hard, start businesses, save for our own future, and manage our own affairs.

    I visited relatives in Hungary three times in the 80's. Everyone there was talking of the need for incentives. Everyone worked for the state and made the same income whether they drove a bus or were a Ph.D. There was no way to get ahead, so very few tried. The result was economic stagnation.

    The Chinese belatedly discovered the wonderfull effect of capitalism on their economy. We seem to be going the other way.

    The Soviets (and other eastern Europeans) tried a state-managed economy with disastrous results. Why in the world are we trying to follow suit? The siren song of socialism seems to attract many people. I guess they don't study history.

  2. Jacob Cooper:

    You also just described what the music and publishing industries have been doing since the invention of the player piano.

  3. Ian Random:

    I just don't get how people buy the spin. Half the time corporations are evil, half the time we need to save the jobs of union/green jobs working for evil corporations. Can someone make up their mind?