by Dr. Roy Cordato
Senior Economist, Emeritas
It is commonly thought that so many people on both the left and right have a disdain for free markets because capitalism favors business. But in fact what they really don’t like is that free markets favor consumers. In a free market entrepreneurs are ruthless about giving consumers what they want regardless of what others think is best for them. If consumers want cheap incandescent light bulbs, they get them; if consumers want top loading washing machines or big tank toilets or high flow shower heads that use more water, they get them; if they prefer big cars that get low gas mileage, they get them; if they prefer to live on cul-de-sacs where there is no traffic and their kids can play in the street in front of their house, then the market provides developments with lots of dead ends; if people want very short term loans that will tide them over to the next pay check, then the market will provide pay-day-lenders; if the consumers are willing to trade-off more calories or more fat content for tastier food or greater quantity, then the market will provide super-sized meals and drinks; if consumers are willing to tradeoff a healthier life for the satisfaction that they get from using tobacco products, then the market will provide them with cigarettes, cigars, and snuff. And the list goes on and on. The reason why the free market is so despised by so many is not that it gives businesses what they want but because it provides consumers with what they want.