(Don’t) Question (My) Authority!

Harrison Leonard

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Harrison Leonard

Contributing columnist

Left-wing academia (a redundancy, I know) has been waging war on the evils of capitalism since, well, forever. I suppose that’s easy when you are instrumental in cultivating those beliefs through revisionist history. If you are going to attack capitalism as the source of all moral degeneracy and economic disparity in America, you had better have a working understanding of what capitalism is, and what it isn’t.

A truly free market puts a wall of separation between government and business. This holds true with respect to burdensome taxation and overly restrictive regulations, but it also holds true for easy loopholes, grants, and subsidies. Don’t reward businesses by giving them a leg up on their competition, and don’t bail them out when they implode due to irresponsible practices. Let them succeed or fail entirely on their own merits.

But the United States has only rarely practiced this kind of philosophy. American history is rife with examples of government working in collusion with big business. Most exploitive companies who thrived during the Industrial Revolution benefited from free endowments, handouts, and a blind eye from profiting politicians as the corporations abused private property rights. And they could get away with overworking factory kids because a plurality of them were state-controlled orphans.

These and other examples are cited as reasons why the marketplace can’t be trusted to self-regulate. But government is the reason why corporations can so freely assault the rights of their consumers. “Political entrepreneurs” utilize government support to create artificially favorable conditions that wouldn’t long last in an actual free market. Government working in partnership with big business is harmful, but it is not capitalism; it’s corporatism.

When Janet Jackson’s boob elicited a cultural firestorm six Super Bowls ago, the NFL made the decision to use more family friendly performers in future halftime shows. Do you think this decision was animated more by fear of the FCC, or by the millions of angry Americans whose public outrage resulted in negative publicity and a drop in ratings? I think the latter is true. I possess an unrelenting faith that market forces through consumers, shareholders, and advocacy groups will correct the poor choices that corporations make, far better than the federal government can.

“Question Authority” was a slogan popularized by student movements in the 1960s. Many of them are teaching at CSUN today, and they still believe it – except, apparently, when that authority is left of center. People who (rightly) question the validity of illegal spying and torture are equally as enthusiastic to trust the “experts” on issues like climate change and deficit spending.

No doubt, there are those reading this who cannot accept that the history they have been taught is wrong, as if their professors are somehow less biased than the politicians that lie to us daily. But do the research for yourself, and don’t restrict it to historians who have bought into Keynesian bunk, as your professors have. You will learn that a significant number of bad businesses throughout history were aided by the liberation that comes when government is sharing your bed