Monday, May 5, 2014
In my business class yesterday I mentioned my distaste for government regulation. A recent concern is the National Security Agency's use of personal information to retaliate against American dissidents. The NSA's actions are like the Soviet Union's 20th century economic retaliation against its dissidents. In a recent Reason Magazine article and the video above, William Binney, a former NSA official turned whistle blower, describes retaliation for his revealing the NSA's misuse of personal information about US citizens.
A student raised this point: "It is difficult to choose between regulation that suppresses competition and the absence of regulation that allows large firms to take advantage of individual citizens." The trouble is that there is little evidence that large firms took advantage of citizens when there was no regulation. There is little evidence that the benefits of regulation, if any, exceed the costs. The growth of large firms coincided with the growth of regulation; regulation is a prerequisite to large scale, so advocates of regulation claim to solve a problem that they have caused. Before federal intervention, cartelization of industry repeatedly failed. It did not succeed until the Sherman Antitrust Act and Theodore Roosevelt encouraged it. The Sherman Antitrust Act encouraged the growth of large-scale firms by illegalizing collusion or cooperation among small firms.
Moreover, the threat that large government poses to private citizens' welfare is worse than large firms' extraction of monopoly rents. Is a United States government that has expanded through imperialism, murdered Native Americans, enabled the enslavement of Blacks through the US Constitution and the Fugitive Slave Act, murdered a million-and-a-half Vietnamese, exiled immigrants who disagreed with the capitalist system, and funded political correctness in universities to be trusted to make us safe from power companies?
Did the Jews gassed in Dachau feel grateful to the Nazi government for regulating power companies?