The Government’s Increasing Powers Over Business

The Government’s Increasing Powers Over Business

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.”

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 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.

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. Increasingly the people demand the government take care of them, and the government is happy to oblige.

Vanished is the idea that family, religion, and local societies were if not superior to top-level government, then they were 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.”


“Because you are an employer.”


Click here before the government discovers you didn’t.


  1. Gary

    Increasing powers? Not really. Government always has had the power, just not the desire to be so deeply intrusive in its manipulation of business. Technological progress has accelerated and greatly enabled its abilities, and fanned the desires, of course.

  2. Ken

    All this govt intrusion started with Wickard v Filburn (e.g. — once the govt finagled a way to stretch the limits of enumerated powers to places never intended, the inertia began and hasn’t let up.

    As for wondering how a U.S. president could articulate anti-trust concerns at Amazon, the fact that someone wondered about that indicates the someone doing the wondering didn’t do their homework — there’s ample discussion regarding the anti-trust paradox that is Amazon. Here’s one:

    Here’s another quote worthy of some dissection:

    ““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?”

    First – All economic theory & practice indicate that truly open borders result in the greatest efficiencies and productivities, overall. Some groups in some countries don’t do so well … and protectionist policies that protect these have over years become a Gordian Knot sort of quagmire that itself distorts the implications of open borders (because, so many of the perceived problems turn out, on deeper analysis, to really be manifestations of problems caused by protectionist policies — early govt meddling no longer perceived as govt meddling). Milton Friedman had much to say about this.

    Second – On sanctuary cities, much of the problem is getting highly skilled workers here to work (e.g. Silicon Valley). Briggs’ remark is falsified by the last phrase, “in preference to citizens?” One reality is that numerous skilled, but illegally hired, workers are filling jobs that citizens will not take, often because there is no qualified citizen available, and often because those who are qualified refuse to go to where the job is (review prices around Cupertino, Apple’s home — $5000/month 2-bdrm apartments, for example, force such limited ability to save many citizens refuse otherwise lucrative jobs that foreigners are willing to accept).

    One of the problems with addressing “sanctuary cities/states” is that the issues are multi-faceted, encompassing the dregs of society thru highly skilled, capable and productive employees. The vast majority of mainstream discussion sort of lump everything together into broad generalities that truly describe no particular facet of the real world. The irony is that facts can be produced to support a particular generalized statement, but that statement is usually applicable only narrowly to a particular slice of some demographic … and rebuttals tend to be similar, factually accurate, but only to a particular slice of a demographic — and often enough one rebuttal is not truly applicable to the thing it rebuts. The ADD-like attention span induced by our sound-byte culture makes most of us blissfully unaware of the complexities of the problems we face/discuss (which is another irony of advanced technology that puts so much more info at our disposal — most of us tend to consume less info … we more easily filter out all but the info that supports a predisposition).

  3. Hmm, I’d say that the camel’s nose entered the tent long before Wickard v. Filburn. That, to me, was just the logical end point demanded when ‘progressives’ started ‘trust-busting’. Governments create monopolies/oligopolies. Free markets work around them. Consider ‘price-gouging’, for instance? By whose or what standard? Prices are set by buyers and by dynamic processes. Prices evolve, in other words.

    When demand exceeds supply, the price will get bid up. When supply exceeds demand, the price will get bid down. NB that there is no such thing as an objective price. Price is always subjective and is the result of each actor’s internal cost-benefit analysis at a given time and at a specific place. Government has no legitimate business coercing the actors in the market.

    Now with respect to ‘open borders’, this ‘libertarian’ agrees that goods/services (redundant) should flow without restriction from any source other than that of the willing actors. People, on the other hand, should not. People have attitudes and cultures associated with them. They also bring diseases with them. We, maybe, wouldn’t need immigrants to meet these needs had 50 to 60 million Americans not been aborted over the last 45 or so years.

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