Markets More Powerful than Armies

Gil Gutknecht
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Posted: Jan 19, 2017 12:01 AM
Markets More Powerful than Armies

OPEC and the Main Stream Media have more in common than they even know. Both continue to puff themselves up and make important sounding pronouncements. But for both, their time has come and gone. They no longer have the power to force everyone else to dance to their tune. Free markets have overwhelmed them. 

?Shortly after the Soviet Union collapsed, I hosted a group of new members of the Russian Duma (Parliament) in my district. I asked them their thoughts concerning the reasons for the downfall. One said, in broken English, "In truth, the system rotted from within." Another offered that "the old system simply could not compete with free markets." These statements also help illustrate the death throws now confronting the establishment media and OPEC.

Markets are more powerful than Armies. They can be held back and subverted, but eventually, like a mighty river they prevail. It may take time or new technology like hydraulic fracturing, but sooner or later markets overwhelm oligopolies.

OPEC had the world by the tail with a downhill pull. The oligopoly controlled the bulk of the world's exportable oil. Western demand was growing. All they had to do was cooperate on production quotas and they could count on super sized profits until they'd sold the last quart. They could count on American policy makers to put roadblocks on any increase in domestic production. Life was good.

But, they didn't count on something as American as apple pie…American ingenuity. And so some ingenious folks figured out how to drill horizontally into shale formations. They then pumped water and sand under very high pressure creating tiny cracks releasing billions of barrels of oil and trillions of feet of natural gas. This disruptive technology will soon make us energy independent and OPEC irrelevant. 

Our friends on the Left pine for the good old days when a small group of media elites determined what the news was and more importantly, what we should think about it. The oligopoly was generally friendly to the Left, so all was well.

Then along came a guy named Rush Limbaugh talking on the radio. He started an information revolution that disrupted everything. The elites remain dismissive, but his audience quickly grew to where he was speaking daily to more people than the real readership several of America's major daily newspapers...combined!

The reason, he served a market that the others ignored.

Roger Ailes saw the same market opportunity and together with media pioneer Rupert Murdoch launched Fox News. Matt Drudge aggregated the news for the web and created even more choices for information. Today there are countless sources including Twitter, Facebook and this post. I personally followed election results on Twitter last November and knew hours before the major networks that Donald Trump had won.

My former colleagues are rightly beginning the process of dismantling ObamaCare. Like the Soviet system, it represents the myth that government can more efficiently manage the distribution of goods and services. This despite any supporting historical evidence. I have two major concerns as Congress embarks on this monumental task. First, the market for health care has been so distorted over the last forty years, I am not certain anyone knows what it might look like. And second, like the oil sheiks and the media barons, the intrenched health care interests will do everything they can to hold back and manipulate real markets and competition. It will not be easy. Markets require price transparency and real competition, both foreign to American health care delivery. But, I have no doubt that given any chance, sooner or later, the market will prevail. It always does.