Some Quick Thoughts on “The Free Market”, “Deregulation” and “Competition”


Conservatives like to argue in favor of deregulation and competition within many different areas. They claim that those two factors would ultimately drive costs down for those services and make them more efficient.

Now, let’s take a look at the pharmaceutical industry in the United States and in Canada. In the United States our government has little-to-no say in how much those drugs can cost. Sure, we regulate the safety and usefulness of them through the FDA, but that is about it for oversight. In Canada, the government plays a larger role in that process. They have oversight like the FDA, but the government also has a hand in controlling the price of those drugs.

In the US, there is a lack of government control of the prices, and we can see the impact of that based on how expensive many life-saving medicines are here. In Canada, that isn’t a problem. The government can essentially tell a company to lower its prices when it sees unfair price gouging (like in the case of EpiPen as you may remember). In the US our government is essentially unable to step in. So, my argument then, at least in this regard, is that the pharmaceutical industry being regulated clearly would produce better results than the current deregulated and “competitive” industry.

I am not sure I understand understand why the “free-market being left to its devices” is better than “seizing the means of production.” I say this, because the thing is, orthodox Laissez-faire economics and orthodox Socialism aren’t always good. No regulation leads to corruption and high prices and too much regulation usually means no competition and stagnation. So, as I have advocated before, a happy medium must be established.

But many conservatives are attempting to apply this idea of deregulation and competition onto all situations (Betsy DeVos with her ideas regarding public schools, Tom Price’s many comments regarding the AHCA bill, etc.). The problem with that, is not all areas or industries work best when completely deregulated or in an environment of cold and calculating competition. Where has the “competition” gotten us in the pharmaceutical arena? Higher prices and more sick people.