I am often involved in discussions about free markets with people opposed to them. I run into the same problem time and again: these people conflate corporatism with free market capitalism. While I am conversant in American history and general economics, this is always an argumentative challenge to overcome as opponents come up with "examples" of "capitalism gone wrong".
So I find myself looking for a coherent history of corporatism in the U.S. written by a credible author. Can anyone give examples of historical works by free market thinkers in this area? Thanks in advance.
Great to have you!
Can you post some of the examples your opponents give?
Chances are they give examples of state-supported enterprises and claim capitalism is bad.
On the topic of limited liability I suggest:
- In Defense of the Corporation
- Corporations and Limited Liability for Torts
On the topic of monopolies:
- The Myth of Natural Monopoly (especially starting on page 46 with "How "Natural" Were the Early Natural Monopolies?")
- AT&T was a government-made monopoly (I haven't read it all, but I scanned over it and it's good): Unnatural Monopoly
On the topic of unions:
- Government used Sherman to bust up unions, preventing capitalism from "fixing" itself. Unions were initially capitalistic constructs, with the leaders wanting to buy the means of production, not take them forcefully (see leader of Knights of Labor). The rapid rise of unions alongside big business in the US shows just how quickly a market can respond ot its own "ills."
Sorry that I can't offer something concrete on the whole topic of corporatism.
Murray Rothbard's "Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy" or "History of Money and Banking in the U.S"
"capitalism gone wrong"
Anything can go wrong, because nothing is perfect.
Thanks for the replies, much appreciated. I will need to read through the references to see what best fits. As I suspected, most works on the issue are heavy on theory and the occasional example, but I suppose I am really looking for practical studies where the theory is rigorously illustrated.
The examples generally given are railroads, Standard Oil, banking institutions, telcos, oil companies - the usual suspects. And in each case, it is very easy to debunk the popular perceptions by pointing out the interventions that make market dominance possible. What I really lament is the lack of a reference that walks through the popular examples and provides a detailed chronology in American history - something an intelligent but otherwise uninformed reader could be pointed to.
Maybe I should begin to assemble one of my own. The villification of capitalism by example of corporatism is a progressive mainstay, and one that is not going away anytime soon.
For more info, see A Politically Incorrect Guide to Antitrust Policy. (including, but not limited to, Standard Oil)
Also, 100 Years of Myths about Standard Oil
The Truth About the "Robber Barons" also seems good (though I haven't read it completely).