In popular discourse, America is said to be more “pro-business” than France. When people use this term “pro-business” they typically have in mind some vague notion of a government policy made up of low-ish taxes and not a great deal of government regulation. That is, “pro-business” is commonly used to mean a free, or free-ish, market.
But such language is mistaken.
Pro-Business is Not Pro-Market
A true free market is at its core pro-consumer. In a genuine free-market economy, businesses are valued only insofar as they serve consumers. The performance of a genuinely free-market economy is assessed by how well it satisfies, over time, the demands of consumers spending their own money, and not by how well it satisfies the demands of business owners and managers.
In France you’ll find one of the most business-friendly policy regimes on the face of the earth.
Obviously, because businesses are a useful – indeed, practically indispensable – means of abundantly satisfying consumers’ demands, government policies that obstruct the smooth operation of these means are undesirable. But such policies that obstruct or discourage business operations are economically undesirable not because they harm businesses but, rather, because they harm consumers.
Anyway, for all of its faults, American culture and policy are actually much less pro-business than are the culture and policy of France. If you’re really looking for a government that is deeply pro-business – one that regards the protection of existing businesses as a worthy end in and of itself – one that forcibly transfers resources from taxpayers, consumers, and other non-businesses in order to promote the material interests of existing businesses – look at France. You’ll find there what you seek. In France you’ll find one of the most business-friendly policy regimes on the face of the earth. (HT Chris Meisenzahl)
Pity the French.
Reprinted from Cafe Hayek.