James Pethokoukis wrote an interesting article the other day, Why Wall Street Should Fear Sarah Palin.
Palinomics, embryonic as it is, seems to be rooted in “free-market populism,” a version of conservative thinking that is pro-market rather than pro-business. It says the role of government is to help markets function more fairly and efficiently for everyone, encouraging competition and “creative destruction” (which Palin specifically mentioned in her book). Pro-business policies, by contrast, can end up subsidizing favored companies, raising barriers to entry and otherwise entrenching the status quo.
This distinction between markets and businesses nicely sums up my own views on regulation, and I believe, reflects the main thrust of those who participate in the Tea Party movement.
Having spend most of my career representing the interests of small investors, I am most interested in protecting the integrity and fairness of the securities markets. But I have little tolerance for Wall Street mischief or market manipulation, so I am pro-securities regulation provided that regulation does not entrench and protect bad behaviors even further.
A level playing field for the public is the goal, as elusive as it may be.
By contrast, neither Democrats nor establishment Republicans really are pro-market. Democrats want to protect people from fair markets by gaming the economic system in favor of politically connected groups, most notably unions. Establishment Republicans are concerned with structuring the tax code and regulatory environment to benefit established businesses.
While my interests and those of the anti- or pro-business regulatory state may intersect on occasion, philosophically we have little in common.
Count me in as one of those simplistic people who believes in markets.
Update: Being a free-market populist also probably reflects my lack of intellectual curiosity.