Sometimes people complain to me that I am nothing but a shill for business. Conversely, they claim that I seem to be utterly incapable of seeing any good in government. That sort of imbalance, they say, is indicative of a zealot with an unbalanced mind who is incapable of offering any real insight about the nature of our world. Indeed, they continue, government is not perfect but neither is business. Why must I constantly attack government and give business a free pass? They conclude their series of accusations by giving me a long list of all of the things government does well, including all of those instances of alleged market failure where government must step in to save the day. Let's consider these things today.
Let me begin by saying that I made up the first paragraph. Nobody has ever said any of those things to me because the only place I talk about these issues is on this blog and, relatively speaking, nobody reads this blog. I mean no disrespect to the sixteen members who have signed up to receive this blog, thanks for your support, but nobody who worships at the throne of government is ever going to engage me on this blog. They are far too afraid of being exposed for what they are to do that. So I am forced to make up things that I believe these poor deluded people should be saying. I know if I were a worshiper of government I would accuse me of being a business worshiper and then I would justify my outright dismissal of all the arguments I have presented in this blog over the years on that ad hominen basis alone.
That having been said let me make it clear that all humans are sinful. All humans are guilty of both original and actual sins. All humans are selfish, self centered and almost incapable of rising about a self-referential thought. Apart from the tiny handful of true Christians in the world, who are actually capable of a non-sinful thought or behavior, everything that is thought about or done by the vast mass of humanity is all sinful to the very core. Sin makes no distinction between those who work for themselves, a profit seeking corporation, a government embedded corporation or the Beast itself. That being the case there is nothing inherent in government work that makes it evil in and of itself. What makes the things which are done by government evil are the sinful motivations of those who populate it. And, surprisingly enough, the same is true for business.
A distinction must be made between those businesses that are relatively free of government influence and corruption and those that are so closely related to the government they become what are essentially quasi-governmental institutions. If you go back and read through the posts to this blog you will discover that I staunchly defend independent businesses but I have hardly ever discussed the nature of quasi-government profit seeking corporations. That is due to the fact that I do not consider quasi-government profit seeking corporations to truly be a part of the free market. The free market is, get ready for this, free. Government, as our first President once told us, is a gigantic coercive Beast that lives to expand itself by means of force, power and coercion. There is nothing in the nature of government that is free. So when profit seeking corporations align themselves with government in order to obtain special privileges and the profits that go with them, those corporations are no longer operating in the free market. They have moved into the coercive market and their profits are as immoral as the things government does to us on a daily basis.
Sadly, in this greedy and power seeking land, many businesses, especially old large ones, have aligned themselves with government in order to protect themselves from competition and garner monopoly profits for themselves. I condemn all of them. They are all as evil as the government itself. They are all as greedy and guilty of theft as the government itself. They will all be held accountable on the day of judgment for their sins, just like those who have worked for a government that flaunts and ignores the perfect moral law of God and refuses to allow it into the public square. How many profit seeking businesses are of this type? I have no idea. I am a small businessman. My janitorial business does not have connections to the government. I do not ask the government to protect me from my competitors nor do I ask the government for special tax breaks or enterprise zones in which to operate. I want the government to leave me alone and I do everything I can to steer clear of governmental interference in my business. And I know lots of smaller independent business people who think the same way I do. We try to avoid the influence of government, not to court it in order to use it as a means to expand our profits.
Ultimately I believe the issue boils down to one simple truth. The free market is the most efficient and effective instrument to deal with the fact that men are sinful. This is due entirely to the principles of consumer sovereignty and personal freedom. Those two principles do not exist in the world of government. Consumers of government services are not sovereign. On the contrary, government services are provided on a take it or leave it basis. In many cases the law of the land mandates the use of various government services. When it comes to quasi-free market activities provided by the government there are no such things. Everything is already determined by the power of the government to coerce its citizens into doing precisely what it desires. Do I really have to go into detail describing how the citizens of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika are not free? After all, the SDA is a democracy and in a democracy the majority rules. The 49% who make up the minority are not free as the will of the 51% is imposed upon them. Do you really believe we could get to the point where the top 49% of the income population provides 98% of all federal income tax revenues if the members of the top 49% were truly free? Enough said.
Things are different in the free market. Producers of goods and services must deliver precisely what the consumers want, when they want it and for a price they are willing to pay or they will suffer financial losses. Everything that is produced must ultimately find a consumer for that good or service or all the members of the production process will suffer losses. Companies go bankrupt all of the time because the consumers decide that they no longer want what is being offered the way it is being offered at the price it is being offered. Conversely, companies make boat loads of money when they deliver to the consumers precisely what they want. In a phrase, the consumer is sovereign.
Consumers are also free to buy whatever they want. Pardon the poor grammar but consumers are not given the choice of one thing, as is the case with government provided goods and services. Millions of businesses carve out niches in the economy by providing specialized goods and services to small numbers of people who are typically willing to pay a premium for that service or good. The superabundance of goods available to consumers in the SDA is staggering to the mind when compared to the relative abundance of goods throughout human history or, today, in many other countries around the world. All of this has come about because consumers are sovereign and free to do as they please with their money.
How does this relate to managing the sinfulness of men? Both producers and consumers are sinful. Both producers and consumers are only interested in themselves. But due to that little thing called self-interest, producers are forced to think about what the consumer wants. A producer does not know what to produce, and thus satisify his own self-interest by means of sales and cash income, unless he first discovers what consumers want. That forces him to be other-interested and works against his natural tendency to steal from and exploit others. In government no such impulse exists. Government employees have no need to satisfy their customers wants and the customer comes to be seen as an inconvenience. Compare UPS and the USPS to get a pretty good idea of what I am writing about here.
In addition, it is always bad business to kill your customers. It is also bad business to sell them items that will poison, maim or otherwise do harm to them. Customers talk to each other. Reputations are made and destroyed based upon how well a producer delivers the goods to the consumers. The free market, through its process of rating the quality of goods and services produced, is infinitely superior to any government regulatory body when it comes to policing the activities of sinful businessmen.
Some businesses are bad and some businesses are good. All bad businesses are bad because of their symbiotic relationship with government. Government, as it exists in the SDA today, is always bad. There is the theoretical possibility that government could actually do something good but we are long past the potential for that in the SDA today. So when I extol the virtues of business remember that I am talking about the free market. I would never defend the activities of parasitic and sinful businesses that use the coercive power of government to feather their nests. A pox upon them all.