In articles such as Roy Childs's "Big Business and the Rise of American Statism," Murray Rothbard's "War Collectivism in World War I," and Joseph Stromberg's "The Role of State Monopoly Capitalism in the American Empire," advocates of the freedom philosophy have laid the blame for big government largely at the door of business. This may conflict with the way we'd expect things to be, but ultimately this is a historical matter is to be settled empirically.The rest of my "Peripatetics" column in the June issue of The Freeman is here at the Foundation for Economic Education website.
Besides, why should we expect business people to favor laissez faire and to abhor government intervention? Few people outside of business do so. Why would people in business be different? As Albert Jay Nock noted long ago, people tend to favor the path of least exertion. If a business owner can increase his profits with a tax, regulation, or import quota on his domestic or foreign competitors, why not go for it? You and I may expect his ethical governor to stop him. But what if he, like most other people, doesn't equate government action with plunder? In that case he won't see himself as a hooligan once removed. Rather, he'll seem himself as a citizen in a democracy petitioning his government for badly needed relief, which, as it happens, will also serve the general welfare.
Monday, July 17, 2006
Posted by Sheldon Richman at 6:09 AM