'Too Big to Fail' Is Too Big Period

A recent Gallup poll found that public confidence in our institutions is collapsing.  The only institutions that still garner majority confidence are the military and small businesses.  Nearly three quarters of Americans have lost confidence in government, big business, academia, and the media (among others).

The vast majority of our institutions are failing.  They aren't failing to survive.  They're failing to meet our expectations — which means they're failing to satisfy their reason for being.

But there's something peculiar about their failure.  As they collapse, they are all falling leftward — never rightward.  They universally move in a direction that reduces rather than increases our liberty.  Why is that?

Government hasn't lost our confidence because it isn't doing enough.  It has lost our confidence because it's doing too much.  Regulation, surveillance, oversight, and bureaucratic burden all work to restrict our freedoms.

Corporations haven't lost our confidence because they are too profitable.  We're unsatisfied because they insist on ideological conformance in exchange for the products they are willing to sell us (looking at you, Anheuser-Busch).

Media haven't lost our confidence because they're boring.  They have lost it because they are untruthful.  They are pushing a narrative and are unwilling to sell unbiased news or entertainment at any price.

Academia hasn't lost our confidence because it has become too expensive — though it has.  It has lost it because it refuses to explore competing ideas.  Critical thinking has become a thing to be canceled, not developed.

Why are our institutions failing in the direction of woke?  Sixty years ago, the socialists pledged a "long march" through our institutions.  Has their constant leftward pressure succeeded?  Or is it something more?  Is it possible that diminishing personal freedom always serves the needs of the institutions?  Were institutions susceptible to the "long march" because of their inherent selfish tendencies?  Is it possible that excessive growth always tends towards socialism — like a cancer?  Is "big" the natural ally of "woke"?

John O'Sullivan, the former aide to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, is credited with saying, "All organizations that are not explicitly right-wing will over time become left-wing."

It's known as O'Sullivan's First Law.  It certainly seems to hold true.  But why?  Why have our institutions almost universally tacked leftward, when that turn is driving them to failure in our eyes?  Is it because they are no longer concerned about the desires of those they are intended to serve?  Have they lost that concern because they have all been released from accountability?

Anytime we hear "too big to fail," it translates to "too big for accountability."  When an auto company is "too big to fail," its executives escape accountability for decades of bad union contract agreements.  When a bank is "too big to fail," its leadership escapes accountability for bad ESG investments.  "Too big to fail" allows our institutions to substitute their agenda for ours.

Government functionaries want power.  Politicians, bureaucrats, and law enforcement have a natural tendency to increase their power at the expense of our freedom.  As government's size increases, this natural tendency becomes more and more difficult to resist.  According to USA Facts, various government agencies now employ 23.7 million Americans.  That equates to 15 percent of the American workforce.  For every seven American workers, there is a "public servant" working to influence their lives.

The media want influence — and the truth is immaterial.  Pathfinder reports that 90 percent of the media in America are controlled by just six companies:

  • AT&T
  • CBS
  • Comcast
  • Disney
  • Newscorp
  • Viacom

That is down from 50 companies just 37 years ago.  There is no meaningful competition anymore.  They are free to promote any narrative they wish.

Corporations want profits.  Once they reach a critical size, they can influence the government for regulatory concessions.  They achieve de facto monopoly status by making it economically impossible for new businesses to compete.  According to FiveThirtyEight, Fortune 500 companies now control 73 percent of our GDP.  That's up from 58 percent in 1994.  According to the McKinsey Global Institute, a mere 5,000 companies control over $40 trillion of the world's revenue.  That has increased by over $17 trillion in just the last five years.  The power of large corporations is beginning to exceed the ability of their customers to influence their decision-making.

Academia wants to control our future, feels uniquely qualified to do so, and is willing to use our children to achieve that end.  Higher education has always flirted with Marxism, because those that can't do take from others — or something like that.  Colleges have become multi-campus statewide corporations with little real competition.  They don't debate.  They indoctrinate.

This leads to my conclusion.  "Too big to fail" is too big for liberty.  Once institutions become powerful enough to set their own agenda, the desires of those they are to serve become irrelevant.  Once they reach critical size, the role of institutions in our society fundamentally changes.

  • Media doesn't inform.
  • Government doesn't serve.
  • Schools don't prepare tomorrow's citizens.
  • Corporations don't provide prosperity.

Ronald Reagan understood that government size was our enemy — that smaller government would better serve us.  But our problem has gotten much bigger since his administration.  Through their sheer size, our institutional players have become a threat to our liberty.

John Green is a political refugee from Minnesota, now residing in Idaho.  He has written for American Thinker and American Free News Network.  He can be reached at greenjeg@gmail.com.

Image: Adam Jones via Flickr (cropped).

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