Do We Still Believe in Competition?

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob Riley, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

As conservatives and, more importantly, as Americans, we need to get back to understanding that competition is vital for the well-being of our people and our country.

Competition is good. It has been the basis of our American way of life since the beginning. When given the chance to compete, we thrive. Our industries innovate. Job growth is stimulated. Workers save money through lower prices. People have more control over their lives.

Yet today, we are moving in the opposite direction. We are backing away from competition, and in many aspects, our federal government is leading the retreat.

From health care to trade and now even national security, there is an unmistakable trend of government trying to stifle competition in this country. The federal government even tried to use unemployment benefits recently through its stimulus plan to force some states such as Alabama to raise taxes under the guise of modernization - higher taxes that would damage our state's competitiveness.

When it comes to health care, there is no question the system is in need of reform. But you don't fix America's health care problems with more centralized planning from Washington. A better approach allows for more competition in the marketplace, so consumers have more choices, more information and more control.

Instead of trying to erect protectionist walls around our country, America should embrace the multitude of opportunities that abound in today's international free-market economy. It is difficult if not impossible to expand the U.S. economy without opening new markets for our exports. Yet this administration and a majority in Congress refuse to take action on free-trade agreements with staunch American allies such as Colombia, Panama and South Korea. It's curious that a group of politicians who for years preached about the need to restore U.S. influence in the world now allow American influence and competitiveness to wither. The European Union and China aren't making the same mistake. They are leaping into the void left by U.S. leadership on trade.

But of all places, perhaps the one where the trend away from competition is most dangerous is in the area of national security. …