Romney’s economic policy as laid out on his issues page continues in the interventionist tradition. According to Romney, “History shows that the United States has moved forward in astonishing ways thanks to national investment in basic research and advanced technology.” He must read the same history books as Barack Obama. True proponents of free markets argue that entrepreneurs have moved the United States forward despite government intervention, not because of it.
Romney makes the distinction of “investing” in basic research rather than “politically favored approaches” to energy solutions. However, basic research is just another investment that should be made by private capital in the hope of profits, not by government for “the common good.” The latter is just more of Barack Obama’s collectivism repackaged. It will yield similar results: more bridges to nowhere, bankruptcies and waste.
Despite the popular conservative misconception, government cannot be run like a business. Government simply does not exist under the same conditions as private firms. It does not receive its money voluntarily from its “customers.” The ability of customers to choose not to buy is the driving force behind all market innovation and efficiency. Private companies are not owned and run by more noble creatures. They are simply under conditions that force them to innovate and control costs in order to survive.
Contrary to the arguments made by Romney, Santorum and Gingrich, there is only one role for government in a free market economy: to protect private property rights and enforce contracts. Regardless of good intentions, anything else the government does destroys the market. Only Ron Paul understands this. If you truly believe in free markets, he is your choice for president.
Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.