Crony capitalism vs. market morality

We need to distinguish between lobbying for cronyism and lobbying for liberty, writes Timothy P. Carney in Reason:

There’s nothing inherently wrong with profiting off big government. If the government creates a surplus of deer, someone has to thin that surplus. If government forces factories to clean up their emissions, someone has to make the smokestack scrubbers. If government requires drivers to use ethanol, someone has to make the stuff.

Nor is it inherently wrong to lobby for policies that increase your profits. “Petitioning the government for the redress of grievances” is protected by the First Amendment, and the regulatory environment often chips away at the profits companies would otherwise make. What is wrong is to lobby for policies that enrich your business by taking away other people’s property or liberty.

Lobbyists and CEOs will always have a free-market-sounding defense to make. Sometimes the defense will be legitimate. Frequently it will not. Libertarians need to probe those defenses, asking businessmen and their hired guns these tough questions. Keep it up, and perhaps one day the businessmen will start asking those questions of themselves.

The full article is Crony Capitalism vs. Market Morality.