|14A013 Dogs and Tails by Jim Davies, 5/26/2014
In La-La Leftie Land, next to the money-tree orchard, there is no theme more recurrent than the bogeyman of Big Business. Big [Oil, Pharma, Retail...] spells doom and repression, controls democratically elected but weak and defenseless governments, threatens society because it's unaccountable. Capitalism is, to residents, a very dirty word. To counter such dangers, a strong and noble (and "Progressive") government is, they insist, the only defense.
I especially repudiate the use of that P-word, for it arrogantly asserts without a shred of proof that increased government control over business (and everyone else) represents progress for the human race. The very opposite is the case. "Socialist" isn't social, it's kleptocratic; "Liberal" isn't liberal, but controlling; and "Progressive" doesn't progress, it takes society back to an earlier era of ubiquitous domination. These people steal words, and it's high time to recover them. I'm a liberal because I thirst for liberty, I'm socialist because I'm sociable (I don't advocate theft or compulsion), and I'm progressive because I anticipate, quite soon, the greatest step forward humans have ever taken.
In a fine recent article Mike Rozeff notes that "Progressives" argue that, unrestricted by government oversight, companies like Wal-Mart and Exxon would ride roughshod over individual Americans. He counters by rightly pointing out that libertarian economists have been pre-eminent in exposing monopolistic misdeeds of large companies.
Those exposés have shown that monopolies prevail only when protected by laws written by governments to favor them and hinder their competitors; in other words, it's big business plus government power that poses the danger. What power would large firms have, if there were no such legal compulsion? - in a Zero Government Society or ZGS? Only by answering that question can we tell which of the two is the dog, and which the tail.
There is, it's true, a synergy. Companies support politicians with re-election money (often, both rival candidates, to hedge their bets) and the winner rewards them with laws that help them and hurt their rivals. That's the name of the political game. A law might for example be written that requires all firms to furnish inspectors with certain detailed reports, which will require 5 extra clerks to produce. To a company with a $100 million revenue the new cost of hiring 5 clerks will be trivial; to one with a $1 million revenue trying to compete, it could be devastating. Given, then, such synergy, which of them is wagging which?
I answer that by imagining that each in turn disappears. If all business firms disappear for example, how will government get along? - answer, it will fold. Without production of useful goods and services (stuff real people want to buy) society would plunge into subsistence poverty at best, with massive starvation death and zero time for politicking. Naturally, with nobody to buy political favors, politicians will find their "profession" suddenly unattractive. The parasites will lose their host.
Conversely if (when ) government evaporates, business will boom, being released from all the stifling, intricate web of regulation and taxation; profit margins will expand enormously at first, then quickly contract again as competition kicks in with lower prices. However, will it "boom" so loudly as to replace government, in effect; compelling customers to pay ever higher prices for example? - will the cure be worse than the disease? Let's try to imagine.
Consider a cartel, in existence at E-Day; in oil for example. All its half-dozen members agree to sustain prices so that they can all rip off the public - which has no other source of fuel. Profits are huge, shareholders wallow in luxury. Two problems will swiftly arise.
First, each member of the cartel has a powerful motive to cheat on the deal and sell for a little less than the agreed minimum, so as to raise his market share. It is well documented that for this reason, cartels always have short lives - absent government support. Second problem: a small firm outside the cartel sees a huge opportunity to make money by competing, and starts doing so; it may have foreign origins (Venezuela, maybe) but it will find a way to serve buyers, who will flock to it for gasoline @25% off... and then 50% and 75% off.
For both reasons, the cartel cannot long survive. Problem over. Monopolists are, without government, powerless. The "Progressive" bogeyman does not exist.
But, but: suppose they get violent? Hire a private army, to... to what? To shoot you if you buy from the low-price rival? - to shoot out the tires on his delivery trucks? - ah, but that would no longer be a ZGS; the monopolist would have turned himself into a local government. Why could he not do that? Because a ZGS will begin only when the entire population has learned and become convinced to repudiate all government on principle. Nobody would work for him.
That is why a Freedom Academy is prerequisite for a zero government society. Nothing more is needed, and nothing less will do.