Friday, November 7, 2008

First Banks, Now Auto Manufacturers: It's Time to Say No!

First it was the banks lining up to get taxpayers to bail them out on problems caused by their poor business practices, irresponsible profit-taking and short-term thinking. Now GM, Ford and Chrysler, after decades of pocketing profits, now are calling on taxpayers to bail them out of problems caused by their failure to build and market fuel-efficient cars even though peak oil was entirely predictable and their preference for short term profits rather than sustainable business practices. I say don't give them a penny.

The problem here is that there is too much concentration of the market in too few corporations. Huge multi-national corporations constitute virtual cartels and hold customers and employees hostage in order to extort money from the government. They are no better than the drug cartels in Columbia and they deserve to go under.

Capitalism is all about the private sector being more effecient than the public sector, about supply and demand, the laws of the market and business either going bankrupt or flourishing depending on how well they are run. So why not let big business go under? We are told that these business are so big that they have hundreds of thousands of employees who would all be unemployed. The loss of tax revenue, the payments of unemployment insurance etc. make it financially preferable for government to pay out large sums to private companies and thier shareholders. It is just protection money.

The biggest problem with our economic system is that there are too many large corporations and not enough smaller ones. A car company does not have to be worldwide in order to be efficients. That is just a function of a marketplace that is regulated in such a way as to produce that result. What is needed is for governments to make policies that punish companies that take over whole markets and eliminate all competition. Keep companies smaller and owned by as diverse a group of owners as possible. Then, when some fail, it does not destroy the whole industry. The unemployed workers are simply hired by the surviving companies and opportunities are created for new companies. Engtrepreneurship and risk-taking should be encouraged and rewarded.

Just sitting there like a fat cat extorting taxpayers' money from governments because you are too large to be alllowed to fail is not risk-taking entrepreneurship. It is morally no better than running a protection racket. And it works only because we let them get away with it. Our problem is not that we have too much capitalism; we have too little and too much of what we have is of the wrong kind.

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