December 14, 2011

Gingrich the Liberal?

One danger of being a skilled verbal opponent is that the temptation to win the battle can damage your chances to win the war.

Credit: Pete Souza
Case in point: Gingrich 'got one over' on Romney by criticizing his tenure at Bain capital. Well... at least until you think about it for a few minutes. So, are we to interpret Gingrich as saying that sometimes free economic activity (that does not involve fraud, theft, etc.) can sometimes be wrong? Bearing in mind that the Speaker considers himself the quintessential Conservative, I think he should brush up on his laissez-faire capitalism, according to which no economic activity (barring the exceptions listed above) is per se wrong. Laissez-faire capitalism believes that unfettered markets are self-justifying and that the vicissitudes of economic activity are neither good nor bad -- they just 'are.' The results of this are that the strong survive and grow, while the weak shrivel and perish. It appears that Gingrich, through this criticism, is indeed backing away from a laissez-faire position, which puts him squarely in the moderate or even Liberal camp on this issue.

Misrepresentations notwithstanding, Liberals simply are not Socialists, but rather believe in free enterprise with some level of regulation -- the level thereof being driven by the circumstances. Liberals believe there is a morality to markets -- that whatever regulations promote a continual state of fair and open competition and provide an increasing level of prosperity to the widest swath of people are good regulations and should be implemented. Liberals also believe that entrepreneurs and others with influence over the economic lives of others should weigh more than just their own interests when making economic decisions.

I predict that Gingrich will qualify this statement if Romney makes it more of an issue. If not, then I welcome the Speaker to the Liberal side of the question.