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Regulating Free Enterprise Is An Oxymoron: The Big 3 Edition.

Updated on December 1, 2008

When I was a boy I spent many pleasant hours watching a big, bulky, curved tube television set in a handcrafted wooden cabinet. By today's standards, the picture was awful and the two function remote control was prehistoric, but it was a Zenith, and sure enough was the zenith of that day's electronic engineering. It was American ingenuity and enterprise at its finest. America was at the peak of its intellectual and manufacturing power, and Zenith was one of the most respected and most popular high end brands in television.

There were so many others... Admiral, DuMont, Emerson, General Electric, Magnavox, Motorola, Packard Bell, RCA, Sylvania, Westinghouse... all manufacturers of outstanding products, and all designed and built in North America. At the time we laughed heartily at "cheap Japanese junk" which was flooding the market with tinny, fragile, ugly 7 transistor radios and similar bottom of the barrel merchandise cum detritus.

At that time would my family have considered buying a Japanese television? No more than you would consider buying an MRI machine from the high school science fair. It was unthinkable that a product at the very heart of the home would be anything but the finest: American.

Sometimes, I wonder if we actually lived in caves back then. So much has changed that it must have been several millions of years between those days and today. Or at least so it seems. Everything that we knew, we expected, and we anticipated in those halcyon days seems to have vanished in a gray cloud. We were supposed to be riding around in nuclear powered flying jetcars by now, not stuck in smoggy traffic jams spiraling down into a precipitous recession/depression that might make savage paupers of us all in very short order.

I even produced a rap tune, based on sampling the hooks from Three Dog Night's "Liar." I like to think that the lyrics say it all:

When I was young, future was fun, it was all Jetsons; Two Thousand One.

We'd push a button and get a meal, We'd break a bone but auto-heal.

We'd swim in seas and talk to Flipper, we'd ride to Mars in Pan Am Clippers.

We'd be beam up to the Enterprise, We never knew it was just lies.

(Sample Chorus) Liar... Liar, Liar, Liar...

It's decades after Kubrick's myth, so where the hell's the monolith?

Where is that world, ordered and clean, where Man's enhanced by the machine?

Eradicate poverty, emancipate all, but half the world aint made a phone call.

We wanted Asimov and Clarke, not child molesters in the dark.

(Sample Chorus) Liar... Liar, Liar, Liar...

This aint no future, this thing's turned sour, we're watching planes fly into towers.

Media Svengalis, you raped our brains, filled them with junk and made us insane.

Teased our minds, heightened our hopes, to turn us into eunuchs buying your soaps.

Promised us flying cars, robot maids, gave us anthrax, road rage and AIDS.

(Sample Chorus) Liar... Liar, Liar, Liar...

Barraged with porn, engulfed by sex, we adulate silicone pecs.

Summer of Love, but at a fee, on DSL or DVD.

You turned your images into our foes, you turned our women into hos.

You ripped away love and romance, replaced it with Britney's hotpants.

(Sample Chorus) Liar... Liar, Liar, Liar...

You sold us this as Golden Age, you never said this was a cage.

You ripped off the twentythird Psalm, and blogged it on blowjobs-dot-com.

You stole our souls, our dreams you neuter, leave us to atrophy on a computer.

To worship at electric Sodom, while our lifeblood drips down the modem.

(Sample Chorus) Liar... Liar, Liar, Liar...

When I was young, future was fun, it was all Jetsons; Two Thousand One.

We'd push a button and get a meal, We'd break a bone but auto-heal.

We'd swim in seas and talk to Flipper, we'd ride to Mars in Pan Am Clippers.

We'd be beam up to the Enterprise, We never knew it was just lies.

So instead of spending the weekend at the Space Station Hilton, I'm keeping a close eye on my online banking to ensure my rent check doesn't bounce. That's not exactly where I expected to be in 2008, but, hey, Hollywood sold me a song and dance and I bought it. I guess I didn't know that the dreams we were sold were all a ruse, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that disappointment. Silly me/us.

However, what transcends by many orders of magnitude my lunchbag letdown at the miserable state of the world 8 years into the new millennium is not such an inconsequential matter as to be shrugged away: The American Empire has collapsed and it's taking the rest of the world down with it. Fast and hard.

Whatever you could say about the Pax Americana, you had to admit that it allowed for an unprecedented number of decades of “relative” peace and most certainly provided a phenomenal phenomenon of profligate prosperity for hundreds of millions of citizens that seemed to grow at an exponential rate year on year. And for a time it seemed as if there was no end in sight.

Well, all good things come to an end, and so has that New Golden Age. The post-Econocalyptic Mad Max world we are heading into seems almost too repugnant to imagine, and the sugarplum visions of Rolexes and Maseratis will soon be replaced with what the human race has primarily sought through its entire existence (with the exception of the last few decades in a handful of fortunate nations): food, water, and shelter.

Oh yeah, we're going to hell and we may not even be taking the handbasket along for the ride. The best thing we can do right now is to write off the explusive excesses last few decades and try to get back to the basics, hoping that we can ride out the storm. And it's one helluva big storm.

One of the most important factors that we, as a society, can return to is something that is generally treated these days with satirical disdain: Ideology. We may no longer be locked in battle for world supremacy with the “Godless heathen Commies” but the core ideology that has founded and nurtured the United States of America is the single most important, most significant, and most indispensable stroke of human genius since Plato. And I can state that unequivocally and with no bias as I'm not even an American! We cannot afford to jettison this greatness out of convenience or pressure from various and sundry left-leaning heads of state to engage in the oxymoron of “regulating free enterprise.”

This brings us back to my American television manufacturing example. Did you notice that there is absolutely no television manufacturing in North America today? Although it was unthinkable at the time that Zenith and the others would disappear from the American landscape as national manufacturing concerns, and the companies which survived be producing exclusively overseas, that is exactly what has come to pass. Yes, it was jarring. Yes, it was regrettable. Yes, it took a powerful toll on thousands of American workers. But it happened. Live with it.

If we substitute Zenith, Admiral, and DuMont with General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, we find that the same market dynamics are at work. Just like the old American TV companies, the Automotive Big Three laughed at their foreign competition when they produced tinny low-brow junk and failed to pay attention when they improved their products with far greater efficiencies than were available on this side of the pond. The Big Three didn't adapt, in fact, they flaunted their retrograde hulks until they couldn't give them away any longer. Heck, the last new vehicle GM launched to date was not a citycar or a hybrid minivan, but a Hummer H3T humongotruck! Talk about being obtuse!

Do you know what you get in the UK when you buy a new Dodge Avenger? You get another Dodge Avenger for free! Yes, they have to give them away over there and it won't be much longer until they have to do the same here.

Should the American taxpayer (as well as my compatriot Canadian taxpayers) reward such obtuseness with a $25 billion + + + check (cheque for us Canucks)? I don't know about you, but I work for my money and if I wanted to help GM I'd go buy one of their Hummer H3Ts and leave a $10,000 tip. Since I'm not legally insane (although I'm aware some of my readers might dispute that), I don't want one penny that I've earned to go to a private company so that they can spend another few billion building more giant SUVs.

Have we forgotten that “the government's money” is actually ours? The government doesn't have any money that We The People haven't given it. When the government agrees to do something (whatever it is that Paulson is thinking about doing today) with $700 billion, or maybe up to $3 trillion, that is between $7,000 and $30,000 for each and every taxpayer in the USA. Again, I don't know about you, but I'm trying real hard to keep the utilities from being disconnected to volunteer thousands of my dollars to:

a) Moron, head in the butt auto execs

b) Billions-squandering insurance company CEOs

c) Criminal investment bankers who played games with the world's livelihood

d) Idiot homeowners who never read the fine print on their ARM mortgages


e) All of the above.

We need to return to our ideological root tenet and believe that like our faith in God, it is immutable. An unwavering belief in God will get you through any trial and tribulation. As will an unwavering belief in the concept of free enterprise and “The American Way”.

Maybe this Draconian implementation of our basic ideology may not be convenient or pleasant, but it is the right thing to do as it always was and always will be: Yesterday, today and tomorrow. Maybe there will no longer be a GM, Ford, or Chrysler as we know it, just as there is no Zenith, Admiral, or DuMont. Maybe there will be three million people hitting the North American unemployment lines. That is a pity, but no more of a pity than putting those three million people on my payroll!

Marx, Engels, Lenin, Mao, Trotsky, and even John Lennon had one thing in common beyond their political beliefs: They were all wrong. Socialism is a grim joke, a concept that sounds good on paper but can never be implemented as it fails to take into consideration one of the most basic of human traits: Greed. Everyone is equal and everyone shares everything. Yeah, sure. You show me one single, solitary example where that has actually been successfully implemented and I'll have a sex change operation and work the local streetcorner in stilettos and fishnets. Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, Sailor?

In the past few months the United States of America, that bulwark of global free enterprise and the mortal McCarthyite enemy of Communism has taken such a jarring lurch to the left that I doubt anyone would have believed even a few years ago. This must not be allowed to proceed, literally at any cost. Not only is the spirit of America being trounced, but the very existence of the nation itself is at stake.

Auto companies, insurance companies, banks, and all other sectors of the private sector should stay just that: private! Nationalization of any enterprise is alien to the American experience and must remain that way. It has never worked anywhere else, what makes anyone think that it can work in the USA? You run your business well, you thrive. You run your business into the ground, that's your problem, dude. Stop trying to make it my problem.

American business has survived through civil and foreign wars, upheavals, disasters, and every possible obstacle. It has done so due to the innate flexibility and brilliance of the free market economy. Individual businesses may come and go, but the core strengths of the American business genius survive.

If we nationalize, bureaucraticize, and stymie business under thick blankets of well-meaning but utterly inept civil servants we will turn the United States of America into a socialistic wastecase like North Korea, unable to feed itself and spiraling down further into utter futility each and every day.

For the sake of the world, that must never happen. My American brothers and sisters... children of a common mother... stay true to your principles! Never waver! Continue to be the only bright beacon of liberty and freedom in the world as is your constitutional and divine destiny!


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    • sschilke profile image


      10 years ago


      I enjoyed your hub.  Greed is the magic elixir that makes things run in a free market, but it's the fear of loss that eventually regulates greed.  When you take away the fear of any loss, then greed will run amuck.  

      A system that rewards risk and compensates for loss at the same time will never work. 

      Thanks for the hub,


    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      10 years ago from Toronto

      Shalini Kagal: You know me... if I have a chance to dress up on a streetcorner populated by hunky sailors, I just can't resist. Have you seen my new Fredrick's of Hollywood bustiere? I look sooooooooo hot in it! :) The whole prospect of regulating free enterprise is not only patently absurd but it reflects a creeping socialism that Americans must recognize and stand up against. I lived in Eastern Europe for over a year shortly after the fall of the Wall and have seen first hand how socialism devastates countries and its citizens. Although Americans can believe that it couldn't happen in the USA, the fact is that the skid to socialism actually is occurring right now, every day. Nationalization or even partial nationalization of private corporations is the single most abhorrent act to anyone who believes in the concept of free enterprise.

      countrywomen: There is a wide chasm between regulation and nationalization. You can no more run a free market economy without regulation than you can run a country without laws. The problem was that the financial overview agencies who are charged with enforcing those regulations were asleep at the wheel. It was obvious to anyone who cared enough to look into it even a full year ago that the toxic securities had reached an unsurvivable level. Yet, Pres. Bush (who may go down in history as the worst President since Ulysses S. Grant, and likely even worse) and his team of so-called financial experts couldn't see the forest for the trees.

      Misha: Having lived through at least the last half of the Cold War, I feel like I've woken up in a Bizarro upside down world when the USA is basing economic policy on Russian-Chinese-Cuban experiences. There is one thing that can be done. Each and every American citizen should call, mail or email their representatives and tell them loud and clear that nationalization is as unAmerican as torture, and it all must stop now.

      Aya Katz: Thanks for the kind words. There is no doubt that Pandora is now out of the box, and we are in uncharted territory. Not even the most experienced economists have a clue as to what is going to happen next, nor can they agree on what steps to take now. That is why I believe that at a time when there can be no consensus on the direction to take, we must rely on our basic ideological tenets first and foremost.

      quicksand: I understand that both Telefunken and Grundig products currently on European shelves are entirely produced in Asia. They are more brands that exist as name only and have no effective connections to their originating nations. Thanks for sharing your Three Dog Night memories. Danny Hutton and Cory Wells RULE! :)

    • quicksand profile image


      10 years ago

      Talking about Zenith, I remember seeing those ads in the Readers' Digest. The recognized British brands were PYE and Collard.

      Telefunken and Grundig were very also popular over here.

      It was on my Telefunken that I heard Three Dog Nite for the first time. The track was "Chambala." The program was the BBC show "Top of the Pops." :) :) :)

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 

      10 years ago from The Ozarks

      Hal Licino, Great hub! Interesting lyrics!

      It's the interventions and the regulations that have brought us to this impasse. However, every additional government intervention is being justified because of the harm caused by previous regulations. The truth is that both the right and the left are in favor of bail-outs, they just use different rhetoric to justify them.

    • Misha profile image


      10 years ago from DC Area

      CW, I am sorry, but the crisis is happening because of too much regulations, not because of a lack of them IMO. The reason for the crisis was not Wall Street, it was government coupled with Fed wasting taxpayer's money to stimulate irrational behavior of market participants. They wasted a lot on other stuff, but this part was crucial :)

      Hal, I am 100% with you, but looks like there is not much that can be done here... Americans have to learn their own lesson, that can't learn on Russian-Chinese-Cuban etc. mistakes...

    • countrywomen profile image


      10 years ago from Washington, USA

      Hal- Without some sort of regulation do you believe that institutions/organizations to be morally accountable themselves when due to their own greed the present crisis in wall street was triggered. The question is not whether we need regulation or not but it is how much regulation?

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 

      10 years ago from India

      Who'd have thought a day would come when there would be talk of free enterprise being regulated? Thanks for a great hub, Hal!

      Love the lyrics - and you couldn't keep the stilettos and fishnet out now, could you? :)


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