One of the greatest myths is the idea that more money equals power over others.
If you honestly earn a lot of money — billions, even trillions — this does not give you power over others. It does give you power over your life. It gives you a much wider range of options and choices than if you had less money, or no money.
But money itself is not power over others. Not in a free society, at least.
Keep in mind that a free society is one in which the government is nothing but a police force, to protect you from violent criminals (domestic and foreign), and to enforce voluntarily entered contracts.
In a free country by this definition, business people would have no influence with the government; nor would they have to spend money protecting themselves from the government. Why? Because government would not be involved with commerce or business at all.
In a properly free country, the government has the same attitude towards business that government presently, in the United States (at least for the most part) has towards religion. Government stays out religion completely, unless — of course — people were physically harming or defrauding others in violation of the law.
Economically, even in the United States, we do not have such freedom — and have not had such freedom really ever, and certainly not for the better part of a century. In the United States, businesses may obtain subsidies from the government, special sanctions from the government, or win back rights previously lost from the government, as in the case of tax credits (for certain businesses only) or exemptions from laws (such as Obamacare, if the ruling powers approve of you), or other favors (if you’re an environmentally “green” company, for example).
Much is made of how Wall Street investors finance the party most likely to retain power, and create a form of crony capitalism. This is true, but the fault does not lie with the fact that Wall Street investors have lots of money. The fault lies with the fact that government is so intimately involved with Wall Street, or any other businesses, in the first place. Money becomes equated with power only the moment that government becomes involved with, and intervenes in, what should have been exclusively private enterprise.
There are two reasons why businesses become involved with the government. One reason is to attempt to gain back some of the freedom they have lost, primarily through taxation or regulation. The other reason is to gain unfair advantage over a competitor.
Company A develops a product or service, and makes a lot of money in the process. Company B comes along and offers stiff competition to Company A. Company A turns to government and demands that Company B be restrained in the name of “the public interest.” Politician X or Politician Y seeks to be seen as acting in the public interest, and — for his or her own reasons of personal power — acts on behalf of Company A to restrain Company B through enforcing regulations, not granting tax exemptions, and the like.
People look at this obvious corruption and think, “There goes business again, being corrupt.” It’s not business that corrupts business. It’s politics that corrupts business.
Some variation of this scheme goes on every day. This is what leads reasonable people to think, “Those with money have power.” Well, without the government involved in business at all there would be no improper power, not for politicians or businesses.
In a free marketplace, the only power a company or business enjoys is to do what it pleases with its money. This is a legitimate use of power, because they earned that money. That money was not stolen, and it was not obtained through fraud or violations of willingly entered contracts. If so, then it’s illegal and the government does have a say at that point — but only at that point, with due process of law.
It’s absurd to suggest that because someone has honestly and legitimately earned money, that this person has power over others the same way a kidnapper or other hostage taker has the power of a gun. There is no “power” over others when you have persuaded them to voluntarily hand over their dollars for your goods or services.
This is why capitalism, properly understood, is the only moral social system ever conceived of. It depends not one bit on force. And it does require a strong government to enforce laws against the initiation of force or fraud.
Marxists claim that “all property is theft.” In other words, even if you earned it from willing customers, but you have “too much” of it, then it’s just as if you stole it. Most Americans, even in Obama’s America, don’t buy this. Yet we give our federal government an increasingly free hand to enforce that idea, via wealth redistribution and executive orders bypassing our other two branches of government.
This idea that money equals power stems from repeated observation of politicians exercising force over what should have been totally private business enterprises. It’s not unlike mafia gangs, only with the veneer of legitimacy offered by a government once founded (and no longer operating on) rational, noble principles of free enterprise and individual rights.
The only reform for all of our woes is capitalism, i.e. unhampered capitalism. The proverbial answer was there all along. If only we’d pick it up and use it.
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