Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Leviathans

There appears to be some sort of basic human compulsion that urges us to (a) amass wealth; (b) build larger and larger, increasingly hierarchical organizations; and (c) control other people's behavior even when said behaviors do not represent a threat to us.

Otherwise I am at a loss to explain the reality of modern society that corporations spend their time attempting to emulate the worst abuses of the State, while simultaneously courting the State to provide them with special status and structural advantages over their smaller competitors.

It intrigues me--and, quite frankly, disappoints me--that many if not most libertarians fail to see the reality that corporations do not represent the free market in action, but actually represent the overt use of anti-competitive State powers to distort the markets in their favor.

Corporate owners enjoy State protection from personal liability for the use of force or fraud.

Corporations enjoy due process rights as artificial persons equal to those guaranteed to US citizens.

Corporations never have to face the issue of inheritance because they are functionally immortal.

Corporations lobby the government for special tax breaks, tax credits, tariff protections, environmental waivers, anti-trust exemptions, and other welfare benefits not available to citizens or small businesses.

Corporations that manage to become "too big to fail" become entitled to life support taken from our tax dollars.

Senior corporate managers enjoy a virtual swinging door relationship with the segments of the government designed to regulate their activity, many moving into and out of those positions [complete with their stock options] every time the White House changes hands.

Corporations often actually lobby for forms of regulation that will suffocate their smaller competition, while being bearable for an organization with hundreds if not thousands of employees.

Corporations willingly accept the role as tax collector/whore for the State.

My point--between the Military/Industrial Complex, the Heatlh Insurance/Pharma Complex, and the other various forms of corporate governance.

Don't get me wrong: I do not favor the idea of simply expanding government regulatory powers in order to have one Leviathan replaced by another.

But at the same time it is important to realize that protecting corporations is far from protecting the free market.

1 comment:

PlanetaryJim said...

You might like my analyses of centralisation over at fr33agents.com in my essay "Classical Liberalism? Fail."