National treasure John Stossel brings us this: Big Business Loves Big Government. Excerpt:
“Big business and big government are not enemies like a lot of people think they are,” says American Enterprise Institute fellow Tim Carney in my new video. “When government gets bigger, whether it’s through spending or taxes or regulation, the big guys, big business benefits.”
Consider the $15 minimum wage. People think of that law as pro-worker. But big companies like Walmart, Costco and Amazon lobby in favor of it. Why?
Because big business can afford robots. Their competitors often cannot.
“Capitalism is a cutthroat thing,” says Carney. “But this isn’t capitalism. When you turn to government to regulate your competitors out of business, that’s where we need to say this is wrong.”
“Maybe you’re too cynical,” I suggest. “Maybe (Amazon boss) Bezos really just does want people to be paid more.”
“If Jeff Bezos wants people to be paid more,” Carney responds, “he can pay people more! But what Bezos is trying to do is outlaw competing business practices.”
This has long been the case; Stossel notes later in the article:
More than 100 years ago, Henry Heinz, founder of Heinz Ketchup, started using refrigerated rail cars because, says Carney, “he could get fresher tomatoes, and therefore he could make a ketchup that didn’t rely on sodium benzoate as an artificial preservative.”
“Everybody loved Heinz ketchup, and it rose up to be about half of the market,” Carney continues. “But sometimes people who are half of the market want to be all the market. So Heinz himself started lobbying to outlaw sodium benzoate.”
Sodium benzoate is a preservative that Heinz’s competitors used. Heinz claimed it wasn’t safe, but it is safe. It’s still used in Sprite, Jell-O Kool-Aid Gels, and other foods.
Henry Heinz almost got those products banned, says Carney. “He almost got Teddy Roosevelt on board, which would have outlawed all of his competition. Sometimes businessmen hate nothing more than competition.”
One of the big things these days, as Mr. Stossel points out, is technology. Big companies can afford BurgerBots, automated check outs and warehouse robots. Small companies can’t.
But the bigger issue is the role of government. Government only has two legitimate purposes: To keep people from killing the citizens or taking their property. Everything else is interference. And meddling in markets, picking winners and losers by diktat, is massive interference.
Left on their own, markets usually get things right. Meddlers in government should (but won’t) let them do so.