It's Not Businesses Conservatives Should Worry About
On War Room, Steve Cortes recently declared Big Business an enemy to conservatives. Cortes could have taken it further and announced Big Business an enemy to the people of the United States.
This is not to make a statement against the wonderful economies of scale and massive social benefits provided to society by corporations. It is, instead, to criticize the overly comfortable relationship between the boardroom and Washington, D.C. Business is not the problem. Government is the problem. They are not one and the same.
As Cortes astutely pointed out:
Far too many conservatives — you know folks who are part of 'Conservative Inc.' — they have been lulled into acquiescence that big business is somehow our friend.
That may have been true in generations past. There was a time when companies like Disney, for example, a company that is very much in the news right now, when those companies were in fact guardians of family values, when they viewed themselves as patriotic citizens, as it were, of the United States, but those days are long gone.
And big business right now has never been more powerful in American history and big business has never been a more grave risk to the prosperity and to the security of the United States ... both on the economic front as well as the cultural front.
Cortes is right, and it is only because of government's role that he is right. Numerous founding fathers properly recognized government as the greatest threat to freedom. It is the combination of state and corporate interests in this era that has made big business so powerful and so toxic to the interest of many Americans.
Elon Musk is temporarily appreciated on the right because of the occasional tweet and the possibility that he will straighten out Twitter, which Musk has referred to as "the de facto public town square." Until more clear results are demonstrated, he does not deserve accolades for Twitter. Musk, however, has good reason to be appreciated by conservatives for being a daring entrepreneur who has shaped the landscape of several industries as both a thinker and investor with his own skin in the game. These projects include X.com, PayPal, SpaceX, The Boring Company, Hyperloop, and Tesla. However, Musk also deserves deprecation for some of his business activities, which rely heavily on government largess.
Hillsdale professor Burton Folsom has long derided such behavior. Folsom cautions that America's most successful businessmen should not be portrayed as "robber barons," neither now nor in history. To do that is simplistic and ignores the true problem. Folsom argues in his Myth of the Robber Barons that we ought to distinguish between "market entrepreneurs," who succeed by creating better products at lower cost, and "political entrepreneurs," who use government to gain an advantage.
It is not Big Business that is our friend or enemy, but it is the market entrepreneur who benefits society and the political entrepreneur who harms society. One is a benevolent giver who deserves his profits. The other lives off of the corporate welfare system. Though Musk has done yeoman's work as a market entrepreneur and deserves every penny his customers willingly gave him, he has spent all too much time as a political entrepreneur, using government to gain an advantage.
This distinction may seem like a slight one, but it is important.
The years of tension in the piggy bank that has become Ukraine demonstrate one problem with American politicians selling not only access but also the benefits of their office in exchange for gifts to family members. Public servants are put in office to be the fiduciary of the American people, but year after year, the U.S. grows poorer while wealth is siphoned by those closest to the teat of power.
In a 2019 interview with CNBC's Becky Quick in Davos, Bill Gates estimated that he made a 20-to-1 return off his vaccine investments. That return came because he was able to lobby governments to force his product on the populations of the world. That is simply evil and confuses the role of government. The proper role of government is the protection of life, liberty, and property — nothing more. Gates has achieved a trifecta by using government to threaten life, curtail liberty, and seize property through forced vaccination programs. It is worth noting that his estimate on returns is a pre-COVID-19 estimate and is likely now significantly larger.
Mark Zuckerberg, as pointed out in the newly released documentary Rigged 2020, spent more than $400 million to steal the 2020 presidential elections. Any conservative who complains about such a detail risks being deemed a hypocrite after the controversial Citizens United decision. Wasn't the conservative opinion in Citizens United that political funding from corporations should be unlimited? So shouldn't conservatives be happy? That's not exactly what happened in 2020, though.
Zuckerberg did not fund candidates. Zuckerberg paid sitting government officials to be his fiduciary and to do his will during the 2020 election. It was their sworn duty to conduct a legal election for the public; instead, they conducted an illegal election for Zuckerberg. They did so in a way that made it impossible for a Republican presidential candidate to win.
Gates may have blood on his hands. Zuckerberg appears to have stolen a federal election. Both appear to have engaged in elaborate schemes to break laws, magnify their influence, and further enrich themselves. If found guilty of criminal behavior, they must see the inside of a prison cell, and so must their accomplices inside and outside government.
This is not an indictment of businesses, though. Quite the contrary: It is an indictment of government being for sale to the highest bidder. To crack down on the free enterprise system when corrupt politicians are to blame is to miss the source of the problem.
Business is not bad on its own. It is quite good. Government, on the other hand, is uniquely allowed a monopoly on the use of force, and consequently must be held to a higher standard. Government alone has police power. That unique role of government has run amok and is magnified by its cozy relationship with corporations.
The problem is not business, but government and its lack of ethical boundaries. If we are to solve the problem, we must properly identify the problem — government and the corruption we have allowed to fester around that unchecked power. Having done so, precision must be used to remove the sickness rather than destructively dropping a bomb on an entire society.
We can do this. We can win the day. We just need to stay focused on the source of the problem.
Image via Pxhere.