As a libertarian, I basically support free market capitalism and laissez-faire, but why do we libertarians and other liberty minded people support this? Because free people who run free enterprise are free to innovate and this innovation brings us a superior product. Competition among innovators also drives down the price as they seek to gain market-share. It’s why you can get a miracle of modern technology like the iPhone or Droid for a mere pittance—with a 2-year contract anyway.
But if we look at the history of monopolies here in America, Standard Oil and U.S. Steel were the most popular in our history, and what transpired was not good. Thus making the case for some semblance of government oversight.
I am often berated by anarchist-like libertarians for championing even the most minor government regulations in our marketplace, ensuring they compete and that they don’t violate our rights, but these people are ignoring historical evidence to promote an ideal I agree with, yet know doesn’t work if left unchecked. History has already proven it. Just because none of us were alive during that era, doesn’t mean we don’t have the documentation to know what happened when we had market-anarchy.
Prior to antitrust and collusion regulations, the quality of goods from these trusts was poor, the working conditions were so atrocious that workplace deaths and injuries were quite common, and the cost of what came off the production lines wasn’t cheap. Why would it be? If you’re the only game in town, providing a quality product, safe work environment, and competitive pricing and wages, simply aren’t needed. Just as absolute power in government corrupts, absolute power in business corrupts too. The moment a business owner needn’t fear people buying from his/her competitor because no competitor exists, corruption can, and likely will, be born.
Anarchists argue that if workers don’t like it, they can go work somewhere else. But where do you propose people go work? The very definition of a monopoly is that it’s the only business in an industry. Thus, there is nowhere else to work. If an enterprising person attempts to go into business for themselves, they’re either forced to sell to the monopoly, or crushed by it if they don’t. These are not wild conspiracy theories I’m floating, it’s historically documented evidence.
The design of free-market capitalism, is not dissimilar to socialism or anarchy. In a perfect world, they would work as intended and yield the desired positive result. History has proven however, that they also have the same flaw. There will always be sociopaths among us who don’t have the power of empathy or value the benefits of being societal. The only decent way mankind has ever dealt with these people is via rule of law. Such people have no qualms about taking advantage of others and doing them harm for personal gain. Our Constitution is designed to prevent these people from corrupting our government, and competition should prevent them from corrupting our markets. So ensuring competition is vital to our society, our rights, and our economy.
John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, and Andrew Carnegie proved that there’s a point at which if you do something right, you can control an industry to such an extent that no one else can compete. These men were likely decent people who considered themselves altruistic and good, but the unfettered power they eventually wielded corrupted them in such a way that they became consumed with winning and had little issue engaging in immoral practices to accomplish this goal.
So aside from protecting our rights to life, liberty, and property, in my opinion, government should justly be ensuring our markets stay competitive and uncorrupted.
So now that we understand, and hopefully agree with regulations preventing monopolies, I’d like to point something out:
Government is a monopoly!
The federal government competes with no one. State and local governments may seem to compete with each other, but if you live in Ohio and don’t like the service the Ohio government provides you, you can’t choose to do business with the Virginia government unless you move to Virginia. It’s quasi-competition at best where states compete to lure residents and businesses, but it’s certainly nothing like Apple versus Microsoft or Ford versus Chevrolet.
So when people like me beg and plead voters to elect more libertarian-like officials, it’s because we know that they’re the only politicians who intend to rebuke and regulate away power bestowed to their predecessors once they inherit it. In doing so, lowering the possibility of corruption, because the smaller government is, the less opportunity for corruption to occur. In the face of the IRS, Benghazi, and press scandals committed against the AP and Fox News, I sincerely hope you understand why we libertarians have been right all along, and are starting to feel vindicated for making these arguments so many seem to laugh away not long ago.
Do you remember Barack Obama making this commencement address speech at my beloved Ohio State University about a month ago?
The irony of this speech that occurred as all three conspiracies started to break into the mainstream media is chilling. It is exactly why we must only trust a politician who tells us not to trust him/her, not to grant them authority, and not to give up your freedom to their ideas of how we should be ruled.
“Experience has shown, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”
― Thomas Jefferson