Monday, January 10, 2011

A hypothetical question about our Statist friends

Why do so many of our Statist friends fear large corporations (a large group of people looking out for the interest of the organization, rather than individuals), but have a deep and abiding love of Big Government (a large group of people looking out for the interest of the organzation, rather than individuals)? 


Anonymous said...

It's because they're not smart enough to become corporate material.
They are, however, dumb enough to become left-wing government leaders.

Nick Rowe said...

I just ordered a copy of software through our Home Use Program. I wanted to change my order just a minute after placing it. The customer service rep told me I couldn't change it, so I asked for the supervisor. The supervisor made the change.

The same software company's software just blew up on my computer, so now I'm switching to another company's software.

My internet service was spotty and I used up my data quota. So I called to complain. After a few calls, I got a $30 service credit and protection against overage. In six months when my contract is up, I might leave them.

Tell me any government agency that fixes problems so quickly. Tell me that you can really get a new government without moving or switching jobs.

Sure, the software companies, chip manufacturers, cell phone and TV providers are oligopolists and all suck, but competition makes punishment swift and sure. Consumers rule!

I complained about public transportation and property taxes months ago. My city supervisor got on the case, but the tax problem still isn't fixed. A public hearing on the transportation problem was held today, but we had the same problem today. I expect no fix any time soon.

Taxpayers drool!

We should have corporate cities. If the corporations do a poor job, we revoke their franchises. Privatize everything including police, fire, roads, and trash. Allow competition. Ban unions.

Incorporated States of America.

Dr Ralph said...

Your "definitions" of Big Government and Big Business make about as much sense as Albert Mohler's take on The BioLogos Forum (your previous post).

Whether successful or not (and I'll be the first to admit the success rate is not all that inspiring) the avowed purpose of Big Government is to provide services.

The avowed purpose of Big Business is to make money. Period. Providing services, products or anything else is the means to that end. Happy customers are a means to that end. If they could make more money by dispensing with any of the above they would in a heartbeat.

Which is not to say I have an abiding hatred of business -- just that this Pollyanna-esque Libertarian fantasy you have about business is just that - a fantasy.

I've spent much of my adult life toiling away in various Fortune 500 companies. From what I've seen up close, your faith in corporate America is sadly misplaced. Could government learn from business? Sure? However, corporations are bureaucracies -- and one bureaucracy is pretty much the same as the next.

BTW - given that you post regularly that our elected officials are in the pockets of lobbyists and industry special interests, how different is that from letting business run things, anyway?

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Oh, that's simple... er... OK, they do believe that they are deciding who and what their government is.

Nick Rowe said...


I don't disagree with your observations regarding business. Sure, they'll screw us if they can get away with it.

As for the profit motive, I refer you to Adam Smith's quote that it is not by the benevolence of the butcher, baker, and brewer that we come about our dinner. Their motive is self interested profits, but the net result is serving customers' needs. After all, there are other butchers, bakers, brewers, and other ways to spend (or not spend) our income.

With government, we have fewer choices within arms length. Voting with our feet is harder than changing vendors.

I don't actually think we should privatize everything, just many things.

Dr Ralph said...

Nick - as is often the case, you and I agree more than we disagree.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Delighted to have you with us, as always.
I don't think you're getting my point.
Big Bidness LOVES Big Government. Loves it, loves it, loves it.
The bigger the government, the better chances they have for subsidies, quotas, set-asides, tax breaks, favors, special considerations, pork, and projects and stimulus and just all around delightful stuff.
See Nick's stuff on A. Smith.

Unless a business is getting some help from Uncle Sam, the business has to provide a service that people want. It has to provide that service in a way, in a place, and at a time that people like more than they like their money. If the business fails to serve the public in this way, it goes under.

Fortunately for some of the worst businesses, Big Government has declared some Big Businesses "too big to fail".

But Big Government's "services"?? They can fail for decades, and keep right on spending. Forced busing created so many suburbs that I once thought it was lobbied for by the housing industry. Look at HUD's track rate. Poverty was going away nicely all on its own until LBJ got involved in trying to kill it. Don't get me started on farm subsidies. Or corporate welfare.

I think that govt. plans to "help" or "serve" should first be proven, not assumed.

Dr Ralph said...

WS - Let me start by answering your original question: why I trust big government more than big business.

Call it the lesser of two evils.

While there may be very little accountability in Big Gov, there's absolutely none in Big Biz.

The monopolies and trusts of the gilded era are a major reason that era's Laissez Faire style of capitalism is now subject to a degree of oversight. The Robber Barons showed they didn't need the government's help to amass huge amounts of power and money, which could then be abused to their hearts' content (the "we don't need no stinking badges" school of economics).

If Big Business likes Big Government at all, I'd argue it's not so much the subsidies, quotas, set-asides, tax breaks, favors, special considerations, etc. (nice as these may be) as it is the fact that regulation introduces an element of predictability into the economy. I'd like Nick to confirm, but from my experience, unpredictability is a major source of business risk.

While I know we'd all like to think corporations would be well behaved without regulations, I doubt it would be so.

If memory serves, it was Cornelius Vanderbilt (one of that era's shining lights) who once said, "The public be damned."

Dr Ralph said...

Oops - mis-attribution: it was Cornelius Vanderbilt's son, William Vanderbilt who, when asked by a reporter about the discontinuation of a popular train route, said, "The public be damned!... I don't take any stock in this silly nonsense about working for anybody but our own."