Big Business vs. Big Government

The other day I got into something of a debate with a liberal-minded individual and I got a healthy reminder of just how much folks on the left dislike and distrust business. No, those words are too weak — “hate” is a much better descriptor.

The debate arose with in the context The X-Files — the question was asked why the series focused on government collaboration with aliens, when government collaboration with Big Business was the real threat. My kneejerk response was that if you’re writing a science fiction horror series, weird grey aliens mutilating cows and abducting humans is a lot creepier than Enron collaborating with the government to push through the Kyoto Accords or Halliburton overcharging the military for gas and food.

From there, our discussion drifted in to the nature of the threat posed by the government vs. that posed by Big Business. Now I know about the various transgressions, real and imagined, that Big Business has committed, but when it comes right down to it there is one fundamental difference between the two “menaces”. The government’s will is backed up by sanctioned force; Big Business’ will is backed up by nothing more than marketing.

When I got tired of Blockbuster’s late fees and poor selection, I took my cash and went to Netflix, where I got better service and a wider selection at a better price. And there wasn’t a damn thing Blockbuster could do about it, save attempt to woe me back with offers of their own.

But if I don’t like the education that my daughter receives from my local school district — or if I think that another school might be better suited to her needs — I can’t take my school taxes and use them to send her to a school of my choosing. If I try, the government — backed up by force — will take my taxes, and if I resist, I’ll got to prison. Worse yet, this is a system that liberals embrace and wish to expand! Let’s not just have socialized education, but healthcare as well! Because it worked so well the first time around.

Now who’s the real threat again?

This is about the time when someone sends me a howling e-mail decrying all of Big Businesses excesses, including spending billions to influence government laws. And yet … given how disastrous some of those laws can be for businesses, they’d be fools not to attempt to defend themselves. That said though, I find plenty of what Big Businesses (or even Medium Business) does downright wrong. Major League Baseball and Football should be rightfully damned for using public dollars to fund their stadiums, and the phenomenon of local and state governments using eminent domain laws to build shopping centers is wrong. Similarly, corporate welfare — in the form of grants, tariffs and other breaks — is corrosive both to businesses and American society. Using the government to attack rivals — as Sun did against Microsoft — is despicable.

I do think these excesses need to be challenged and fought but when it comes right down to it, when I have to decide which is the greater threat to my personal happiness and freedom, the government is the greater potential danger.

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