Caught this quote in my brother-in-law's blog today and felt it needed some rebuttle: "This is why big government is a much more sinister force than big business."



Um, what? The first question I would ask is 'What is the difference between big business and big government?' Part of the way big business protects its own financial interests is by mingling with and influencing government. With billions of dollars on the line, it is unreasonable to assume that the leaders of the world's largest corporations would not use any and all means at their disposal, including the quasi-legal bribery we call campaign financing, to achieve their own goals. This is the probelm with the connection of business and government, because a business has a stated, bottom-line goal that is usually to make money, nothing more. Look at the mission statements of companies like Coca-Cola, General Motors, and Nike-- they invariably include language about 'increasing value for shareholders' which means that these companies are not in business to make soda, cars, or shoes. Making those products is merely a means to an end, a way to increase value for shareholders. Now, in many ways, big businesses are actually more honest about their intentions than government officials who claim to act in the public interest, but are obviously motivated by financial and professional gain. But that doesn't make them better.



The second question I would ask is, 'Isn't it obvious that the corruption of government began with the influence of business, and not the other way around?' It seems like if you take the theoretical model of our government and just look at the documents that framed the system that we have in place, the model itself is rooted in thoughtful reflection on how a democratic society ought to run. In the days before multi-national corporations with more money and influence than even the federal government, the system was perhaps less prone to abuse by business interests. That's not to say we enjoyed 150 years of perfect democracy before the 1950s- there has always been corruption and forces that work to undermine the good intentions of the founding fathers. However, with the industrial revoltion bringing about the mega-corporations and the media-age consolidating the outlets for information and the means by which that information is delivered, government frankly doesn't stand a chance. For those who claim that our elections are merely a popularity contest, they are right insofar as our elections are media spectacles not unlike reality tv. Politicians have to use the methods of manipulating public opinion that the media has made commonplace, and have to appear to the public more like media stars than learned leaders. Private interests to make money have corrupted our very system of government from the way our leaders are elected to the way they look at every issue up for vote.



Big government isn't the problem. Big government in big business' pocket, is.