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Richard Larsen: Fear Government, not Corporations

October 29th, 2009 by Halli


By Richard Larsen

There are many among us who seem to make a sport of bashing business and the free market system. They appropriately point out the egregious moral and legal failures of some firms but then ascribe culpability to all in the corporate world equally. At the national level, it’s become a “pro sport” as professional politicians exculpate or absolve themselves of all their regulatory blunders creating the business environment companies must function in and cast blame on the corporate world for all that they can’t blame on our former president.

This bashing and fear of American corporations was well articulated by a recent contributor to the Journal blogs who said, “Not only is it appropriate to keep corporate transgressions ever present in any debate concerning the state of our economy, but that unless we do, capitalism as we once knew it will continue its metamorphosis into a controlling entity that has undermined the very Democracy that enabled it to exist.”

Yet what power is wielded by any corporation that even comes close to that which is held by government? Logically, there is much more to fear about government than there ever is to fear about the business world. Businesses make things, sell things, provide service, all to generate a profit so they can grow bigger, hire more people, sell more gadgets, and acquire other companies.

The larger companies grow, the greater their potential impact on the economy and their influence with lawmakers. But they have no more power with politicians than what the politicians grant. In spite of potential influence in D.C., corporations cannot deprive us of our civil or constitutional rights. Corporate policy sometimes can affect their employees and in some cases, their customers. But corporations cannot take away our collective freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association, freedom to own firearms. In short, they cannot deprive us of our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. They cannot force us to give them 30% of our income. Their boards of directors cannot vote to force all of us to part with our earnings to pay for their pet projects and payback for political favors.

However, government can do all of those things. And government is actively engaged in this assault on individual freedom and liberty right before our very eyes. They can force us to pay $1600 more for our energy consumption as a tax. They can force us pay up to $6,000 per household for a public health-insurance plan. And once that is in place, they can dictate our diets and consumption habits for eligibility in the public health plan. They can force us to list all of our firearms on our tax form. They can force any reference of God out of the public sphere, if it smacks of anything Christian. They can do all these things. And they are doing them.

As governments’ appetite for spending increases, so likewise their need to expropriate more of our income increases. With a vote in Washington, we can lose more of our earnings. We can lose more of our liberties. We can be coerced into doing things we have moral, legal, and constitutional objections to. Corporations don’t have that power.

With the factual realization that government has the power to eliminate or minimize our freedoms, and corporations do not, which should we fear more? I can choose not to buy from a company because I object to their policies. But I have no such luxury to withhold my taxes for objectionable cause. I can choose to live outside of a corporations’ influence, but as an American, I cannot simply choose to live outside the parameters of government policy, regulation, and laws.

There is no inherent virtue in government or in capitalism per se, but there is inherent virtue in liberty. Both government and corporations should abide by those same constitutional precepts that were designed to assure individual liberty, and rather than abridging those rights, affirming and perpetuating them. Neither the absolutism of socialism nor unbridled capitalism morally serve the greater interests of the nation. But freedom does.

There is ample reason to be wary of corporations, but not to fear them. After all, they have little power over our fundamental liberties and freedoms. But with a legislative vote and the stroke of a pen, government can, and actively is, reshaping America from the land of the free to the land of the oppressed.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, National Sovereignty, Politics in General, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

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