BETWEEN THE LINES: Big Business vs. Big Government

How tempting is it to place blame for our failures at the feet of others.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is a prime example of alleviating the burden of responsibility off our shoulders by pointing fingers at Big Business and its misdeeds. It is an accusation that is difficult to defend, in part because Big Business has abused power. It has polluted the environment, knowingly made unsafe cars, created hazardous work environments and manipulated prices using sweetheart deals with its competitors.

Throughout the 20th century, laws were passed correcting many of those abuses. Big Business is not innocent, but neither is it the devil incarnate. It has created a vast array of products and charged a fair price. No one forces the public to buy an iPad at $499. If, in the process, Apple makes a fortune doing so, I say more power to it.

Take the pharmaceutical industry, for example. Its products have saved millions of lives, but there is no doubt a few rules were bent along the way. Prescription drugs have known side effects, but who is to know what years of taking them will do to one’s health overall, especially if a person is taking multiple drugs as many Americans are? Risks can be reduced, but not entirely eliminated.

The problem I have is if Big Business is culpable, then why does Big Government get a free pass? For example, let us examine the housing fiasco of the previous decade. Banks and other mortgage lenders were greedy, but the government put pressure on them to lower standards to increase minority home ownership. The government’s fingerprints were all over the crime scene, but it was the banking industry that became the poster child, not our elected politicians.

Big Government is looked upon to solve problems and fix things, often when those things were not broken to begin with. Large corporations pale in comparison in terms of disrupting one’s life in that they have the ability to tax you, arrest you and silence your protests. Apple has no such authority to invade your privacy.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Uncle Sam responded by creating the monstrous Homeland Security Department, resulting in the greatest infringement of individual rights in our nation’s history.  Just ask any world traveler how our nation’s airport security measures up to others. Rather than looking at the example of Israeli security measures implemented in a part of the world far more dangerous than ours, we leaped before we looked. Private businesses can offer better security at a far less cost with less inconvenience.

Our Founding Fathers feared a government with broad powers. It is why there were advocates of limited government.

Congress’ mandate to require national health care is a breach of power. If the Supreme Court fails to have the courage to declare the law unconstitutional, then our Constitution is worthless. Castigating Mobil/Exxon or British Petroleum for their environmental snafus, while ignoring Big Government’s intrusion into our lives, is sheer hypocrisy.

Laughlin is a Christian Libertarian. He is an economist, teacher, father, husband and most recently a grandfather. He has written a weekly column for The Tribune for 13 years. He and his wife Gina reside in Meadowlakes. To contact him, email ablaughlin@nctv.com. He is an independent columnist, not a staff member, and his views do not necessarily reflect those of The Tribune or its parent company.

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