by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
A level playing field. Equal opportunity. Less government interference and more personal choice and responsibility. They’re three ways to describe the limited government view — some might say classical liberalism. Writing at libertylawsite.org, John McGinnis lay out the problem of government playing favorites — and both political parties do it.
A bankrupt Midwestern utility company that relies on coal is petitioning the executive branch to use extraordinary discretionary authority to require that energy users make purchases of its higher priced energy. The company argues that its failure will put pressure on coal producers. Exercising this authority would payoff a particular energy industry. Lest one think this concern over favoritism is not warranted, the Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, has already attempted to intervene in the market to provide higher rates for coal driven power plants.
To be clear, the opposition party to the President indulges in favoritism too. The Obama administration bailed out auto companies with preferences for unions that they would not have gotten in a normal bankruptcy reorganization.
Yes, they both do it. And whether it involves federal carve-outs, state carve-outs, or local carve-outs, special treatment for some is what causes lack of trust in our institutions. That will change only when the governed believe — and see — that everyone is given a fair shake. Yes, I know, that may sound naive to some reading this item, but here’s the reality: If we don’t start somewhere, we won’t make any progress. For those of us who pay close attention to state policy, we can start by speaking out about the principles of freedom and free markets.