In the economy, competition is the single most powerful force for progress and innovation. A good way to entice customers away from your rivals is to make a superior product. "Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door."
The Nobel Prize-winning economist George Stigler called competition "the patron saint of the consumer." Competition pushes producers to provide consumers the most for their money — a combination of keeping prices as low as possible and keeping quality as high as possible. It pushes them to be efficient. Producers who fail to be efficient don't survive. Competition means survival of the efficient.
The degree of competition determines the crucial balance of power between consumers and producers. Vigorous competition puts power in the hands of consumers. Its absence puts producers in control.
A good way to appreciate the value of competition is to look at its polar opposite: monopoly. Monopoly means consumers have only one producer to choose from. One choice amounts to no choice. Under communism, all producers are monopolists. The state has a monopoly on every aspect of life.
Because it lacks competition, a communist economy is extremely inefficient and always becomes dysfunctional. Cuba and Venezuela, for example, can barely feed their populations.
No economy is automatically or organically efficient. Efficiency requires incentives. Those don't exist under communism. A free-market, voluntary-exchange economy provides an abundance of incentives. The profit motive is one example. The more efficiently the owners of a private business operate, the more profit they will take home at the end of the year. It's similar to the way a fantail keeps a windmill pointed into the wind.
In an otherwise efficient economy like ours, public schools are as dysfunctional as they would be under communism. That's because the public-school establishment has been so effective in blocking competition in education.
Public schools fit most of the characteristics of monopolies. Teachers and their unions have power, while students and their parents have almost none. If more competition were introduced, the power imbalance would be reversed. The increased interest in "school choice" — vouchers and charter schools, for example — are reasons for optimism.
Competition among ideas is what makes free speech and robust debate so vital. Debate is, in fact, competition in search of the truth. The left's cancel culture is about destroying competition and establishing a monopoly of ideas. Leftists think they've already discovered the truth, so there's no reason to continue the search.
Conservatives love a society that rewards the efficiency of competition. Leftists hate it. They love communism instead.
◼ The left hates competition March 24, 2022
Ron Ross Ph.D. is a former economics professor and author of The Unbeatable Market. Ron resides in Arcata, California and is a founder of Premier Financial Group, a wealth management firm located in Eureka, California. He is a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma and can be reached at email@example.com.
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