The Government’s Increasing Powers Over Business

And why these powers are wanted by most

By William M Briggs Published on October 12, 2017

Jeffrey Tucker on The Stream asked a pretty good question: “What is the deal with all the strange attacks on business coming from Republicans and conservatives?”

Tucker, among other achievements a research fellow at the Acton Institute and writer for this fine e-magazine, deserves a good answer.

He wonders how President Trump could threaten “antitrust regulation against America’s most innovative company” Amazon, and how Steve Bannon could float “the idea that Facebook and Google should be treated like public utilities.” Tucker is also concerned that Trump “blasted American companies for outsourcing jobs.”

And how about how the Republican tax plan “would eliminate deductions for state and local taxes. That is going to hit Silicon Valley extremely hard, along with businesses and taxpayers in all the so-called Blue States. Some conservatives love this.”

Why the love?

They love it because the leadership of the majority tech companies are openly, publicly, even annoyingly, progressive. And these conservatives are with certain reservations pleased to see somebody in the same weight class punching back. Even if the only blows landed are tweets.

A good many citizens also cheered when Trump criticized and called for a boycott of another major business, the NFL, for its boorish behavior. A business which appears to be capitulating.

Tucker says “the right to do business unimpeded by target central government attacks is essential to free enterprise.” This is true. He also says “Gone is the idea of [government] leaving people alone.” That’s true, too.

Hands in each other’s pockets

The difficulty is that large businesses won’t leave the government alone, either. How many registered lobbyists are in Washington? How much money is donated in their name?

Neither big business nor government can cease their embraces. But that’s not the worst of it.

So powerful has government become that citizens believe the government is the entity that should and must fix things — all things. More and more, the people demand the government take care of them, and the government is happy to oblige.

Higher powers

Vanished is the idea that family, religion, and local societies were if not superior to top-level government, then at least co-equal. The state is now seen as the ultimate arbitrator of everything, including good and evil. Including even love. Just as Anthony Kennedy.

On Twitter a “verified” user said, “Giving employers power to decide whether their employees [sic] medicine is covered is the least American thing I have ever heard of.”

Allowing the government the power to mandate employers give their employees free things is the least American thing I have ever heard of. Whatever gave people the idea that employers should give employees free things, with no strings attached, because the employers are employers and the employees are employees?

The government. It said, “I notice you pay this fellow to sweep the floors. You must also give him free pills and money when he is not working.”

“Why?”

“Because you are an employer.”

The idea of employer-as-parent directed by government-as-overseer is now so ingrained in our culture that eradicating it is less likely than Hillary admitting she lost the election on her own demerits. The government should not have this power, but it does. People were unhappy not that Obama or Trump used this power, but only in how they used it.

Global Suspicion

Tucker says that the “nativist suspicion of ‘globalism'” is good when used “to denounce imperial foreign policies, and treaties that restrict Americans’ freedom.” But this wariness is bad when it encourages the government to create artificial trade barriers. Here he speaks the truth.

Yet why conservatives are nervous about globalism is no mystery.

“Globalism” has the smell of “open borders” about it. The government and many businesses have for a long time had no interest in upholding or following immigration law. We have now in California a whole “sanctuary” state. And how many tech companies hire cheaper visa holders, or even hire those who broke the law to come here, in preference to citizens?

The elites, in government and in business, are also pushing for a globalism that would have us cede bits and pieces of sovereignty to the United Nations — or worse. It makes sense many would mistake economic globalization for this ideology of globalism. After all, the globalists haven’t been careful to maintain that distinction.

“With great power comes great responsibility”

Tucker finishes with an apt warning: “Remember, that sooner or later, the other party will be in charge. It will inherit all the shiny new levers of government coercion you put in place for ‘your’ guy.” This has already happened.

Obama ruled to a large extent by decree, signing Executive orders faster than Wil Wheaton (young Wesley Crusher) scrawls autographs at Star Trek conventions. The previous administration bolstered some business (whatever was “green”) and quashed others (coal). Trump is using the same weapons. Though in his favor many of his signatures are reversals of Obama’s policies. Is there anybody who thinks Hillary would have been more circumspect? Or would she have put in order for a tanker of ink?

Still, Tucker is right. It’s unthinkable that whoever comes after Trump will wield the power Congress is too timid to remove.

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