Pages: 1 2
Facebook’s, Google’s, and Apple’s flirtations with President Obama are just the latest example of how American businesses die. To be sure, Facebook, Google and Apple are a long way from death. But once they begin dancing to the tune of the government flute, it is only a matter of time before they become obsolete.
The growth of government – and the threat of government involvement in industry – has eventually crippled virtually every major industry in America over the past century and a half. Businesses are started by entrepreneurs; when they grow successful, government intervenes to take its pound of flesh; entrepreneurs respond by parlaying with government, hamstringing their own businesses in an attempt to government wrath. Those businesses gradually become decrepit, dependent on the whims of the capricious Washington D.C. deities. Overseas competitors begin to compete, and the now-slow-moving businesses require government subsidies to survive. This is how businesses turn from American assets into American sinkholes.
Almost every industry since the railroads has undergone this horrific decay from pure capitalism to corporatism to irrelevance. James J. Hill, the man who built the Great Northern Railroad, derided government aid, explaining, “The government should not furnish capital to these companies, in addition to their enormous land subsidies, to enable them to conduct their business in competition with enterprises that have received no aid from the public treasury.” As Thomas DiLorenzo brilliantly documents here, Hill started off as a grocery clerk, then worked in a variety of industries before pooling his cash with several partners to enter the world of the railroads. His business model was a paradigm of pure capitalism. Teddy Roosevelt’s trust-busting converted the railroad industry into a shell of its former self, and converted its “robber baron” leaders into public villains. Now today, President Obama tells us that we must publicly fund rail systems so as to compete with the Chinese.
In the oil industry, the Rockefellers of the early 20th century gave way to the heavily regulated firms of today – and not coincidentally, the foreign oil dependence that now shapes our foreign and domestic politics.
In the automobile industry, Henry Ford entrepreneurialism gave way to government-supported unionization, subsidization, and finally, bankruptcy.
When President Obama praises the fact that we are “the nation that puts cars in driveways and computers in offices,” he neglects to mention that we are also the government that kills the car industry and ships the computer industry overseas; when he lionizes us as “the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers,” he ignores the fact that Edison has given way to government-sponsored GE, a company whose stock fluctuates with each presidential press conference; when he effervesces over Google and Facebook, he blithely overlooks the fact that his own intervention will help make those companies archaic before their time.
This is what liberalism does to industry. It kills it. Industries would be wise to acknowledge that inevitability before committing to the dark road of corporatism.
Pages: 1 2