There is an issue that– while extremely important today–receives too little attention not only in the traditional media but also in the blogosphere, and academia: the subversion of competition by special interests. Following Adam Smith, the vast majority of economists believe that competition is the essential ingredient that makes a market economy work. Yet, what ensures that markets are indeed competitive? While a competitive market system ends up benefitting everyone, nobody benefits enough to spend resources to lobby for it. Business has very powerful lobbies; competitive markets do not. The diffuse constituency which is in favor of competitive markets has few incentives to mobilize in its defense.
This is where the media can play a crucial role. By gathering information on the nature and cost of this subversion of competition, by distributing this information among the public at large, and by making this information salient, media outlets can reduce the power of vested interests. By exposing the distortions created by special interests, they can create the political demand for a competitive capitalism.
This is the goal of the “ProMarket blog”: to educate the public about the many ways special interests subvert competition in order to make the market system work better. In the finest University of Chicago tradition, we will do it with data. We will try to do it with the rigor of the best academic work, but without the pedantry that often accompanies it. We will use every medium at our disposal, because the message is our medium.
The blog is sponsored by the Stigler Center at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. The literature on the subversion of competition by special interests was started 45 years ago by George Stigler. The Center’s mission is promoting and diffusing research on regulatory capture and various forms of subversion of competition by special interest groups.