From Ronald Bailey's article in Reason:
In a letter to the editor in the Wall Street Journal about the relentless Team Blue crusade against "market voices," Fred Smith, head of the libertarian think tank, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, warns:
The attack on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is part of a broader attack by those seeking to drive all market voices from the marketplace of ideas. ("Shutting Down ALEC," Review & Outlook, April 18). As the Founders realized, "factions"—what we now call "special interests"—are an unavoidable aspect of democracy. The Founders' solution was not to suppress factions, but to "set faction against faction" to ensure vigorous debate. The attack on ALEC runs counter to that spirit. It is a concerted effort to silence one faction by driving productive economic voices from the policy debate.
When businesses seek to expose and reduce the harmful consequences of capricious legislation, that is both their right and good for democracy. When market voices are excluded from the policy debate, the only voices left are those motivated purely by ideology. And as history shows, the greatest harm to nations comes from ideologues who believe they know what's best for everybody.
Our Founders gave us a system based on the battle of ideas. If critics of the free market believe they have a strong case, they should seek to win that battle openly, rather than by silencing the opposition through intimidation. What ALEC's opponents seek is nothing less than the sabotage of democracy. It is especially unfortunate when businesses retreat from backing free-market groups like ALEC when they come under pressure. America needs more CEOs willing to stand up for free enterprise. Readers who agree should let those CEOs know now.
In an email, Smith notes…
…there are only three sources of financial support for anything: Stolen money (government), Dead money (foundations) and Live Money (firms and individuals). All are useful but very different.
He asks why should anyone be nervous about "Live Money" participating in public debates? As Smith correctly points out:
After all, bureaucrats and foundation managers have goals too – are these more moral?