“Big Government and Big Business … will try to impose social and cultural uniformity upon adults and their children. To achieve this they will (unless prevented) make use of all the mind-manipulating techniques at their disposal and will not hesitate to reinforce these methods of non-rational persuasion by economic coercion and threats of physical violence. If this kind of tyranny is to be avoided, we must begin without delay to educate ourselves and our children for freedom and self-government. Such an education for freedom should be … first of all in facts and in values — the facts of individual diversity and genetic uniqueness and the values of freedom, tolerance and mutual charity, which are the ethical corollaries of these facts.”

– Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

One of the biggest and most harmful myths in American civic discourse is the idea that Big Business and Big Government are opponents of each other. We all learned that Teddy Roosevelt and the “progressive” movement sought to use the noble power of the federal government to protect us against the evil, greedy cartels.

But a more thorough investigation into the relationship between business and the state reveal that they are and have been more friends than enemies. As much research has correctly pointed out, most of the top-down, government “regulation” that was enacted during the Progressive Era –and legislation that continues to be passed today– was either heavily lobbied for, or directly written by, large corporate interests.

At first, this seems like a paradox. But a proper understanding of the nature of the state and how it operates reveals that this corporate-state relationship is fairly easy to explain. State regulation tends to benefit big business by creating uniform standards that only large corporations with their army of lawyers can accommodate. Tariffs, licensing, subsidies, land grants, and war are all government distortions into the free marketplace that make it nearly impossible for smaller businesses to compete or even get started.

As John D. Rockefeller famously said, “competition is a sin.” State intervention, always done in the name of the “public good,” allowed Rockefeller’s axiom to be nearly cost-free to him and many of his other fellow corporatists.

This is why I can’t understand when critics of libertarians label us as “apologists for corporate power.” I hate the influence of mega corporations on our media, economics, and culture, which is exactly why I want less, not more, cartelizing government intervention into the economy. As the great libertarian Murray Rothbard pointed out in an article recently posted by lewrockwell.com, the Panama Canal Treaty was favored by business interests. It was, as he put it, the Treaty that Wall Street wrote.

The inevitable question arises: how do we stop this centralizing corporate power from having more and more influence over our lives? The answer, as I alluded to above, lies in a simple process: decentralize and repeal.

Repeal the thousands upon thousands of federal, state, and local laws that restrict the entry of new businesses into the marketplace. End corporate welfare. This would have the effect of not only localizing economic control but also of removing the coercive apparatus of taxation and regulation over economic activity.

Larry Gambone at the Porcupine Blog has some great analysis about this issue:

Eliminating the fraud known as the corporation as the “fictitious individual” would have far-reaching effects. Rights and freedoms were meant for INDIVIDUALS, not corporations. In order to give corporations these rights they invented the lie that a corporation is an individual. Thus, attempts to control corporate advertising and Korporate Krap Kulture are met with loud shrieks of censorship, and since the corporation has the rights of an individual, it cannot be touched.

Remember that it is state law and state judges that have given the corporation the legal status of an “individual” and granted them the privilege of “limited liability.” This, in essence, socialized the costs of corporate losses and makes shareholders, workers, and their pensions suffer the losses of their decisions as opposed to the CEOs themselves. This is not a free market, but fascistic crony state corporate capitalism.

Intellectual property law –law that exists not through experience and custom but through legislative fiat– also has a similar effect on the economy. Gambone continues:

Patents are harmful because they allow the patent holder a monopoly. With a monopoly they can gouge customers through artificially high prices or inferior goods. Patents waste a lot of energy as people invent procedures to get around the patent. A royalty system, like that of song-writing, would allow inventors a good return without these harmful effects. Patents made Bill Gates the richest man in the world. Without patents, he would still be rich, but not anywhere near the same extent.

Large corporations benefit from intellectual property law in the same way that they benefit from the state’s regulatory system: they can afford the costs and burdens that these restrictions on the free market create, and in turn, are rewarded handsomely for doing so.

In summary, as Gambone puts it, “stop the state from acting like a goon squad for corporations.”

This means repealing, not adding, federal laws, which would have the effect of actually forcing large corporations to compete on an unrestricted market. Government could then focus on its real job (protecting individual rights from aggression) and not on helping corporations maintain their top-heavy profits with the use of state violence.

Decentralize and repeal! Why not give the actual free market a try?