Capitalism’s most conspicuously successful offspring, big businesses, have turned their backs on the philosophy that gave them birth. A good piece by Jonah Goldberg on the demise of capitalism: Et Tu, Big Business?
…Everywhere we look we see the great and once-great beneficiaries of free markets running to the state for protection from the cruel bullying of competition. On health care, insurance companies and others repeat the mantra that they want to be “at the table rather than on the menu,” all the better to be positioned as a tax collector of the welfare state. General Motors and Chrysler have gone from being pimped-out prostitutes of the state to outright chattel more akin to the leather-bound gimp in “Pulp Fiction,” eager to do the bidding of the president and the UAW.
Once-proud companies like GE have become seduced by global warming schemes, because they recognize that there’s more money to be made selling white elephants to Uncle Sam than there is selling competitive products consumers want. Indeed, cap-and-trade taxes promise to deliver precisely the protectionist industrial policies the left has dreamed of for decades, only under a “progressive” label.
This week, Philip Morris, the biggest of the Big Tobacco companies, supported and won passage of an “anti-tobacco” bill that will make it easier for Philip Morris (a subsidiary of Altria) to sell cigarettes by making it harder for smaller, more innovative firms to compete. One way it will do that is by curtailing the First Amendment rights of tobacco companies, making it harder to advertise their products (including healthier alternatives to normal cigarettes). Philip Morris, maker of Marlboro and other established brands, already controls 50 percent of the market. That’s why it lobbied government to keep it that way.
Also this week, the White House announced its plan to deal with “systemic risk” in the financial markets. The basic idea is that big firms — giant banks, insurance companies, etc. — cannot be allowed to fail if their failure threatens something called “stability.” The Obama administration is confident that with its new organizational flow charts and enhanced job description for the Federal Reserve, bureaucrats will suddenly see clearly what they couldn’t see before. These regulators will know exactly when bubbles get too big, when booms last too long, and when tens of thousands of managers, investors, actuaries and bankers make bad or sub-optimal decisions…
Their serpent’s tooth is lodged in America’s jugular, and it will do worse than drive us into madness. It will kill everything we’ve been, and everything our children hope to be.