Government Regulation Allows Capitalism to Succeed

Bob Gross, Oberlin visitor

To the Editors:

In regard to the columns that have appeared in the Review debating libertarian capitalism: While I am a proponent of capitalism, I believe libertarian capitalism would be a disaster.

It would be far too easy for the wealthy and powerful to exploit markets in a system of libertarian capitalism. The production of goods and services would be governed by monopolies. An easy illustration for how this would transpire can be seen in the way professional football evolved into a monopoly.

At one time there were two separate professional football leagues: the American Football League and the National Football League. The two leagues bid for the services of prospects coming out of college, resulting in an increase in the salaries of all players. Competition between the two leagues represented the best traits of capitalism. The AFL narrowed the width of the football leading to a more exciting style of football, salaries of players increased and the AFL was also more open to Black prospects coming out of college than the NFL.

But the wealthy and powerful men who owned professional football teams, who had derived their wealth from the free-market capitalistic system, decided against free market capitalism when it came to professional football and persuaded Congress to grant them an exemption from the antitrust laws, allowing the merger of the two leagues into one entity. The merger resulted in a reduction in the salaries of players while teams began using the threat of moving to coerce cities to build them new stadiums using tax money.

If two competing professional leagues had still existed when the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore, there is no doubt that the competing league would have immediately placed another team in Cleveland, and the taxpayers of Cleveland would not have been coerced into building a new football stadium.

Industries will always choose to form cartels and monopolies when there is no government regulation. It is just human nature to want to avoid competition when it is more profitable and more secure to organize a monopoly. That’s why libertarian capitalism would never work.

Conversely, that’s why socialism doesn’t work. Like libertarian capitalism, a small group of powerful people place their interests above the interests of the individual members of the entire group.

– Bob Gross
Oberlin visitor