In a world of subsidies and bailouts, profits do not mean that our interests as consumers have been pleased. They mean that the interests of the political class in Washington have been. For all President Obama’s attacks on profit, he doesn’t seem to have any problem enhancing the profits of those who vote for him.
Supporting the free market is not pro-business, but rather pro-consumer and pro-citizen. The current administration’s vision seems to involve demonizing profit-seeking with one hand while writing checks to enhance the profits of politically favored businesses with the other. When the government gives our tax dollars to inefficient businesses, it undermines competition’s ability to serve us as consumers.
Although such a vision may be good for GM and Obama’s re-election prospects, it is a disaster for the American public.
Steven G. Horwitz is the Charles A. Dana Professor and Chair in the Department of Economics at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y.