Corporate Accountability in a Free Market

One of the most common arguments against the free market, and it’s as old as the birth of social crusades, is that corporations powered by greed will do anything to anyone to make a buck if the market is entirely unregulated.

But it is regularly overlooked that a regulated market has even more possibility for corruption and greed than a free market does. Just look at the recent GM debacle revolving around faulty ignitions. GM was under the direct oversight of the civil government. GM was about as close to being a government-controlled corporation as any once private business has ever been. And did that closeness protect the American people from corruption? No. It made it worse. Recent evidence suggests that GM lied to its civil government nannies about the faulty ignition switches. And what will the civil government do about it? What could they do? If they weren’t willing to let GM die before, why would they now?

The civil government tampered with the market when it bailed GM out of bankruptcy in the first place. And now Americans are dead because of it. Don’t try to tell me otherwise. GM has been failing the American people for decades. They are slow to serve the market, slow to innovate, and terrible at making durable cars. There’s a reason they were going bankrupt. And the civil government should have let that happen.

If GM had gone bankrupt, they never would have made another faulty ignition, and the many Americans who have suffered for their institutionalized incompetence would have gotten a better product elsewhere—and, in some cases, a few more years of life.

Capitalist greed didn’t make this happen. Unless you think government greed counts as capitalist greed. Corporations are not to blame for this, unless you count the government as a corporation. And, most of all, the free market is not to blame for this. This is a classic example of why we need the free market.

What people fail to understand is that an unregulated free market does not suspend civil and criminal law. If, as it is now coming to light, GM knowingly sold cars it knew could be dangerous, criminal law requires that each knowing person is subject to charges for the lives lost.

It is not “regulating the free market” to press charges against a corporation for criminal negligence. If a corporation knowingly dumps pollution in a water source (or does not have or does not enforce measures to prevent this), that corporation must be held responsible when people get hurt or property is devalued. This is not a market regulation. This is just upholding the rule of law.

Capitalism doesn’t require the suspension of laws to function. In fact, it requires the opposite. The civil government doesn’t need to regulate the economy or break up monopolies or anything of the sort to protect the consumer. All the civil government needs to do is hold criminals accountable when they break the law. Corporations are not above this. Well, they shouldn’t be. But corporations mean big money mean big lobbying power. And in the game of crony capitalism, palm-greasing is the quickest way to skirt real labor and responsibility in your relentless pursuit of the bottom line.