By Max B| WASHINGTON
Capitalism, the economic system void of governmental regulation and influence, is often confused with corporatism, the economic system where corporations use politicians to further their advantages over rival comapnies, and the two are very closely tied. I would argue, however, that the line between them is easily defined. Corporate lobbying, the ability for a company to give money to a politician or a political organization, is the line between the two, and the United States has crossed it long ago. It is one of the most dangerous threats to a free market system, and it provides unfair advantages to companies that can afford to lobby, which undermines the entire idea of equal opportunity.
Government has long been the trump card in a corporatist system; companies are able to compete against each other, but a company cannot compete against the government, and they must follow the guidelines set by the bureaucracy. The problems in this arise when free market competition is inhibited by biased regulations, and the FDA is a perfect example of this problem in action.
Many politicians complain about the concept of “big pharma,” from Bernie Sanders to Ted Cruz. The idea of big pharma is enabled by the FDA, who were lobbied by over 360 companies according to The Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. Large pharmacy companies produce medicines, and then pay off the FDA to ramp up the regulations and requirements. This causes smaller companies to be unable to produce any kind of similar medicines, as they cannot meet the intense standards that the FDA has set up. This is what allows for cases like Martin Shkreli’s 5,000% price increase on a certain drug. Other companies are simply unable to create the drug, which stifles competition and the idea of the free market as a whole.
On a more direct scale, big pharma companies are able to lobby the FDA to keep drugs such as marijuana illegal, even when they have many proven medical benefits. Again, people and companies have no other option than to use or produce artificial drugs that often have much more devastating side effects, and are more expensive. This is not a free market, and the FDA is creating an artificial market that benefits the companies that can afford their favor.
The FDA is a failed organization, which undermines all our principles as a capitalist, free market society. It must be cleaned up, regulations must be cut, and lobbying must be ended for the organization to begin to serve it’s intended purpose, protecting the American citizens, for years to come.