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City needs to guide the ‘free market’

Posted on October 5, 2017 by Sonoma Valley Sun

On the question of should the City limit tasting rooms, it is troubling that some Council members argue that the Council just needs to step back and let the “free market” decide on local issues.  Council members Gary Edwards and David Cook both argued for this approach, with Cook stating that “Business can regulate itself… it creates problems when government gets involved.”

In “Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not for the Few,” Robert Reich emphasizes that “Few ideas have more profoundly poisoned the minds of more people than the notion of a ‘free market’ existing somewhere in the universe, into which government ‘intrudes.’ Government does not ‘intrude’ on the ‘free market.’ It creates the market. … a market, any market, requires that government make and enforce the rules of the game.”

One wonders why anyone would want to serve on the City Council if he or she merely sees governing and rule-making as only a matter of deferring to the “free market” —a market free of rules. Why stop with the abandonment of Council rules for tasting rooms and tourist development? Should the Farmers’ Market, cannabis dispensaries, a livable wage, affordable housing, climate action plans, etc. also be left up to the “free market” devoid of any local rules or “government intrusions?”

Hopefully, the Council will continue to study and then develop rules that will democratically embody our evolving citizen values for a more sustainable Sonoma.

John Donnelly, Sonoma

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