Paul Greenberg

Do you like convenience, service, simplicity, competition, more jobs and all the other features of a free market that stays free and ever productive?

Then you'll love a service like Uber or Lyft, which use private drivers to give customers a, yes, lyft. No waiting forever, just door-to-door or even corner-to-corner service. Provided by friendly folks who use their own cars and stand to collect the lion's share of the fares, the worker being worthy of his hire. Who wouldn't like it? It's good for the customer, good for the driver, and good for the local economy.

Here's who wouldn't like it: the kind of vested interests, like cab companies, who long ago formed a cozy relationship with local government to keep any competition out by imposing a whole web of onerous rules and regulations that mainly benefit themselves.

It was Jonathan Swift who observed long ago, "When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him." In the same way, you can spot a true -- and useful -- innovation in the economy by this sign: that all the vested interests form a confederacy of monopolists against it. Which is how a dynamic system like capitalism becomes encrusted with special privileges and inefficient bottlenecks that make it anything but dynamic.

That's how the economic powers that be, and that are determined to stay, substitute government-issue paralysis for capitalism's usual cycle of destruction and creation, which an Austrian (and later American) economist named Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950) labeled Creative Destruction -- a process that continues to alarm those opposed to both the creativity and the necessary destruction that leads to it.

How stop that never-ending process? Simple. All the vested interests need do is ally themselves with the kind of compliant politicos who impose all those rules and regs. This unholy alliance has come to be known in our time as crony capitalism, which is a lot more crony than capitalism.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.