FOR AND AGAINST: Are free markets really the answer?

FOR: Rick Valenta & Ryan WalkerThe bailout threatens the free marketBig government or little government?If your name were Barack Obama, you would most likely be saying that in one way or another, you favor big government interaction. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t think we can preserve our American spirit by increasing the involvement of the government in everyday affairs.I understand the importance of recent events that big government enthusiasts have pointed to as support of their argument.But I believe that more government interaction and a continuous move toward socialism is not something that is going to make America stronger.Only a few weeks ago, the free market as we know it came to an end when the federal government decided to provide a $700 billion bailout for banks and insurance companies, but not before Congress was able to attach an additional $150 billion worth of pork.Already, a second bailout for the nation’s automakers has been proposed, all of this to be paid by the money that the Treasury does not have.We are already paying a lot of money to defend our country, and we can’t afford to be taking care of those that can’t take care of themselves.Why is big business privy to this bailout when entrepreneurs like Joe the plumber are held accountable for their decisions? America was built strong by smart entrepreneurs who are able to make business succeed.A lot of people can argue the good points of a government bailout in that we want to infuse capital into our economic system in hopes of preventing another Great Depression.But this precedent of “The Golden Parachute” for companies that have made bad business decisions and choices goes against the free market value of accountability.Why should business act responsibly when they know that the government lurks in the background, ready to solve all their problems?Business should take responsibility for their actions and accept the consequences for poor decisions.Isn’t this what makes America succeed?In the short term, we would suffer more for having these companies fail; but in the long term, it sets a precedent in corporate America that we will stand to benefit from fiscal responsibility and accountability.The bailout is a delay of the consequences of bad business decisions; the proverbial piece of gum on the crack in the dam.By not dealing with the consequences, now it is future generations of taxpayers that will assume the burden of our crushing national debt.Many Americans would have rather gone through a few years of lean times than sign on to the bailout, which is the effective mortgaging of America.In an increasingly competitive and global economy, we can only hope that the newly-placated businesses can stay productive and competitive, and that the American national debt does not become so toxic that we will have to be bailed out by our new owner: China.AGAINST: Jeremy Spiro-WinnThe free market’s time has passedTaxation is not merely the reflection of a need for government to perform the basic services of infrastructure development, maintaining a necessary bureaucracy and defense.It is commonplace to the point of being seen as necessary that revenues collected from the citizens of any major industrial nation will go to a range of domestic social services – welfare – and causes – combating AIDS in Africa – that are more or less altruistic in nature.In other words, while our taxes are used to give to everybody, they do so especially to those who need, and we have learned to accept and embrace this principle as a good.But within this country, there is a constant struggle between the supporters and detractors from policies that seek to place a greater proportional burden upon the rich. This struggle is usually not based in some estimation that the rich are being overly taxed, but that demanding of a greater proportion of their money is, in a very deep sense, unfair.This is not a wholly unreasonable line of thinking. It is a natural – and in many ways correct – assumption that a person deserves the fruits of their labor.But terms like “distribution of wealth” and “socialism” are today being tossed about like weapons without some serious discussion of their worth, and they are frequently assumed outright to have some component of grave unfairness or even evil to them.But where is this unfairness? It seems more likely to me that there is a greater injustice to be found in people’s maintaining titanic personal wealth while their countrymen suffer.Is there really some grave pain inflicted upon a man if we reduce his wealth from, say, $500 million to $200 million? And how can we weigh that pain against the pain of the medical patients and welfare recipients it will support?So, while there does indeed seem to be some self-evident right to the fruits of your labor, it seems fair to say that this right has limits that stop at the shores of greediness. If you are rich, it is your duty to do good things with your money just as it is the duty of all people to be good to each other in the course of their lives.And if the super-wealthy are unwilling to part with some of their fortunes, I have no qualms about compelling them to do so – so long as that money is being used to fund good and constructive causes.We need to drop this complaint of grave unfairness directed toward the rich in taxing them differently, and instead focus on the tragedy of our wasting our country’s money on things like war and lining the pockets of the already-wealthy when we have bridges to build, technology to research and the hungry to feed.Especially in times like these – where the economic landscape seems to be undergoing a dramatic resurfacing – it seems about time we stop tossing around ideas and terms like “socialism” like they are inherently bad, and begin to assess their worth on the basis of their value to society.The old way has failed, and it’s about time we seek a new path.