Over the years, I’ve heard a number of people on the Left claim that they support big government because they don’t like the amount of control corporations have on them or the country. I got to thinking about that the other day and started looking at how a corporation can have control over a person’s life. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the reason corporations have as much control as they have, is primarily due to having a powerful central government. Let’s break it down a bit and I’ll try to show you what I mean.
There are a handful of ways that a corporation can exert some sort of control on a person. The first is so obvious that it’s often overlooked: A person buy’s a product or service from the corporation. If a person buys a thing, say a can of tuna, there’s almost no tie between the person or the company. For something larger, a drill for instance, there might be a warrantee that places a limit on the person. For example, it might limit the time that the person can get free repairs from the corporation if the drill is defective or prevent the person from suing the corporation because the person decided to drill a hole in their head.
In the case of a service, things get a little more complicated. Usually, there is some sort of contract or usage agreement that a person must agree to in order to use the service. The agreement puts limits on both parties. In effect, the corporation has control over one aspect of the person’s life, specifically in regards to that person’s use of the service.
In nearly all cases, the control the corporation has over a person is the direct result of a person’s actions. If John signs up with Facebook, he’s bound by their usage agreement. However, John has a very simple solution to avoid giving up that control. He can choose not to use the service.
People can go around and around over whether or not a corporation’s policies are “fair” but, in the end, it’s up to the person to decide if they want to use the service. If John doesn’t want to be bound by Facebook’s policies, he can choose not to sign-up and Facebook has no control over him. (Okay, that’s not entirely true but we’ll get to that in a minute.)
In general, this type of control, i.e. the limits placed on people and corporations because of free will decisions is harmless to society. People can complain all they want about privacy policies or warrantees but, in the end, it’s the person’s decision to submit to that control. No corporation can force a person to buy their products or use their services on their own.
The second way corporations can control a person is through the law. The two most obvious examples are copyright and patents. This is where that other Facebook restriction comes in. Those two systems of law place restrictions on a person whether or not they are buying something from the corporation or have even heard of the corporation. That’s especially true with patents where a person can invent a better mouse trap but can be prevented from profiting from if if a corporation has patented the idea that the inventor used even if the person developed the idea independently. It gets even more exciting when a company tries to tell you that you don’t actually own that DVD you bought and, therefore, can only play it in approved players.
Oh, and what have the big corporations been doing when a competitor shows up? They certainly haven’t been trying to compete in the market. They’ve been trying to sue each other out of existence. It’s even more exciting in the case of UPS and FedEx. UPS feels that it’s has a competitive disadvantage because FedEx isn’t unionized and they are. They’ve been trying to get Congress to force FedEx to unionize.
Do you see where the problems are, yet? Almost all of the problems that people complain about with corporations are due to legal loopholes or government meddling. Why do you think corporations and unions give huge amounts of cash to politicians? It isn’t because they like them. It’s because the corporations want legislation passed that gives them a competitive advantage.
Let’s take a look at the music and movie industries. The music industry, especially, was completely blindsided by the Internet. They fought for years to prevent any company from selling digital copies of their music online. In order to protect a failing business model, the RIAA and MPAA didn’t change what they were doing to fit the needs of their customers. Instead, they went running to Congress. UPS did the same thing.
Government’s role in the market should be extremely small. Mainly, they need to ensure that contracts are upheld and keep people and corporations honest. That’s no longer the case in the United States. Now we have a Federal government that aids corporations and unions based on who gives them the biggest bribe, er, campaign donation. If the government didn’t have the power to benefit those donors, the money wouldn’t be spent in the first place. It’s only through the rapidly expanding power of government that the corporate corruption and control that those on the Left so desperately campaign against comes to pass.
The Leftist will argue that a strong, powerful government is necessary to keep corporations out of politics. Instead, it provides more and more reason for corporations to get involved. If everyone if government were completely altruistic, they might be right. Of course, if everyone in government were completely altruistic, we wouldn’t have this problem.
The Framers of the Constitution built an extremely limited government because they knew that power corrupts the most honest of men. With a limited government, even with huge bribes and unadulterated corruption, there is little corrupt politician can do and there’s little reason for any corporation or union to spend the money. The corporations lose the controls that those on the Left deride.
In short, the Left has cause and effect exactly reversed. Corporate control isn’t stopped by a powerful government; it’s encouraged by it. If you truly want to end the expanse of corporate control, you must kill off it’s symbiotic partner, big government.
Welcome to the Tea Party, my friends. We’re glad to have you.
(Originally posted at PerlStalker’s Ramblings.)