You may have seen these commercials for FreeEnterpriseAmerica.com. This is the latest effort in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s campaign to let businesses do whatever the hell they want. The face of the campaign is respectable enough: Harness American innovation to create 20 million new jobs. Wonderful! Let’s do that. But of course, the only way to do that, according to the Chamber, is to never hold any business accountable for anything. Is your coal plant belching out mercury and poisoning the ocean? That’s fine because you’re creating jobs. Is your health insurance company forcing half the pharmacies in your state to close to pad your bottom line? No problem, businesses work best with no regulation. This approach is what’s causing businesses to flee the U.S. Chamber of Commerce like rats from a flood.

FreeEnterpriseAmerica.com puts forth a completely specious solution, or jumble of solutions, to our jobless recovery. There are links to articles about the evils of healthcare reform and about how the recession is really over. I’m sure that to the good folks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the recession has been over for some time. In fact, the possibility that the recession can end without average Americans seeing any evidence of recovery shows how free enterprise can do a few people a lot of good, while doing most people no good at all.

Mostly, this is one more example of the Ayn Rand theology so often held by people who will never own a business, much less get rich from it. Like most theologies, it works out a lot better for the priests than the parishioners. One of the central tenets is that regulation reduces one’s incentive to start a business and thus dissuades would-be entrepreneurs from bringing new ideas to the marketplace. While it is true that too much bureaucracy can be an impediment to establishing a business, making sure a company’s products are safe and their practices are fair is a different thing completely. And if you are starting a business with the intention of poisoning your customers or just ripping them off, then it’s probably best that the regulation dissuades you.

But more than that, the notion that only unfettered expansion can entice entrepreneurs into the marketplace is just silly. For example, Ken Auletta points out that what separates Google from Yahoo! is that Google grew out of Larry Page’s and Sergey Brin’s intellectual pursuits and not merely as a way to make money. Anyone who really wants to bring a quality product to market is not going to be dissuaded by the federal government telling him it has to be safe. So, I suppose if the key to economic recovery were more Enrons and fewer Googles, then we should absolutely support the Chamber’s crusade for unlimited corporate license.

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