In a speech last week in Washington, D.C., New Jersey Governor Chris Christie sang from the Republican playbook in criticizing President Obama’s recent economic interventions.
“We don’t have an income inequality problem,” Christie blustered. “We have an opportunity problem in this country because government’s trying to control the free market. We need to talk about the fact that we’re for a free-market society that allows your effort and your ingenuity to determine your success, not the cold, hard hand of government determining winners and losers.”
Aside from the somewhat bizarre assertion that we don’t have an inequality problem, most Americans (this one included) would agree with that basic assertion. Assuming a level regulatory playing field—a set of rules ensuring that everyone “plays fair”—the market should be the arbiter of business success and failure. We regularly quibble over the need for some of those rules, but it’s a rare politician or citizen (Republican or Democrat) who advocates government control over the economy.
Of course, there’s talking the talk and there’s walking the walk.
After his speech, Christie returned to New Jersey and signed off on a government regulation that blocks Tesla from selling its cars in the state. According to Slate Magazine,
The rule change prohibits automakers from selling directly to consumers, as Tesla does. Instead, it requires them to go through franchised, third-party dealerships, as the big, traditional car companies do. In other words, it requires that the middle-men get their cut. The Christie Administration made the move unilaterally, via the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. It was urged on by lobbyists for the state’s existing car dealerships, which fear the competition. The upshot is that Tesla will be forced to stop selling cars at its two existing dealerships in the state, and drop its plans to build more. It’s unclear what will happen to the employees of those dealerships.
There’s socialism, and then there’s corporatism and crony capitalism.
There’s rhetoric, and then there’s reality.