LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Government should not be allowed to limit free markets

Monday, December 2, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:27 p.m. CST, Wednesday, December 4, 2013

When Sen. Claire McCaskill touted the Affordable Care Act as “free market,” I took exception to her misleading words.

A free market, according to Merriam Webster is: "an economic market or system in which prices are based on competition among private businesses and not controlled by a government."

Free markets are the various restaurants around town, grocery stores, gas stations, barbers and hairdressers, car dealerships, gift stores, hardware stores and department stores scattered within and around cities. Free markets include not only corporate giants, but small businesses employing one to several.

When government takes over a market removing competition it is no longer free to compete with other like businesses.

Imagine government controlled grocery stores in which there is no longer a multitude of choices. Imagine the federal government telling us consumers we have only three choices of any one food group. When free market competition is removed the costs of boxes of cereal, bread, fresh, canned and frozen vegetables skyrocket.

Why? Because the giant and rich corporate farmers, packagers and grocers of these products no longer have to battle for our business. Competition was removed. Removing competition also further enriches those corporate giants, and it was they who contributed to politicians who voted for what I will call the Affordable Food Act.

Imagine the federal government decides people can't be allowed to buy potato chips, heavily buttered popcorn, cheese puffs, candy, certain cooking oils, or have alcohol or soft drinks available because these are unhealthy. This not only removes our freedom to make our own choices, it also vanishes jobs which also removes money spent for taxes to local and federal government which affects schools and funds for the old and needy.

Forget only a couple of very large chain grocery stores, corporate farmers and manufacturers are now getting richer because competition was removed. Forget the negative impact on the packaging industry that create boxes and cans, the small business farmers who grow vegetables and raise chickens, pigs and cattle, and the trucking industry that ships the product.

Instead focus on the federal government now getting to play Mama and Daddy.

Because Mama and Daddy (the federal government) were given the power to limit what food we citizens can buy to eat, Mama and Daddy have decided to limit the kinds of clothes washers, dryers, refrigerators, cars, tires, toys, clothes, CD/DVD players, computers and televisions we can have.

Mama and Daddy decide kids are watching television and playing video games too much. Those unhealthy habits must be removed at which time Mama and Daddy vote to manufacture devices that automatically shut down after a certain amount of time.

The scenarios may sound over the top for this country, but it is a great illustration of consequences when power is given to government to limit free market competition. This includes the health insurance industry.

Deborah Miller is a Fayette resident.

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Chris Cady December 2, 2013 | 2:00 p.m.

OK, no limits on free markets.

The gas station can sell you whatever it wants and call it 'gasoline.'

The gas company can charge whatever it wants, since it has no competition at your house.

If kids are poisoned by imported candies, the free market will take care of that.

Banks should be able to lend or not lend in whatever neighborhoods they want, based on race.

Are you liking the totally free market yet?

It's not totally free, for many good reasons. Whether that should apply to health care is another question, worthy of debate if you like. But recognize what you're saying about totally free markets.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 3, 2013 | 11:03 a.m.

Gas station gets sued under existing fraud laws and pays up and/or goes out of business when customers talk about their bad experiences.

Other gas companies undercut the gouging gas company and get their business. Customers avoid the gouging company (witness people still mad at some local retailers for jacking prices on 9/11).

Existing laws are used to prosecute the importer; parents sue for medical costs and punitive damages.

Apply at another bank and let them have your business (i.e. make money off of you).

(Report Comment)
Chris Cady December 24, 2013 | 10:26 a.m.

All well and good it sounds like, except in your world my engine is destroyed, my kids are poisoned, and there are no banks left who will loan to minorities. All of which is preventable by reasonable regulations, but you're OK with all this because I can sue? Gack.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 26, 2013 | 11:05 a.m.

And how do your regulations prevent the scenarios you prevented? The solutions are mostly reactive and occur after the hypothetical harm has occurred. There will always be bad actors who flout the law.

(Report Comment)

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