Attacking The Tea Party: The False Choice Between Big Government And Big Business

As I have pointed out, the Tea Party is outside the control of Big Business. When it was popular to berate the Tea Party for its opposition to Big Government, liberals claimed they were simply puppets of Big Business. Now that Big Business and Big Government openly work together to smear the Republicans for not raising the debt ceiling, the media admits the truth. Big Business and Big Government are working together and the Tea Party is their enemy

As soon as the crisis is over, the media will pretend this open alliance was only a special circumstance, and that “Big Business” (which is always the Koch brothers and never George Soros) is back to using the Tea Party to resist beneficial regulation by Big Government.

Even now, despite the current media line, some critics are in denial, asking why the Tea Party “hates government” but not corporations.

The claim that the Tea Party hates all government is another version of the silly Harry Reid “The Anarchist Are Coming” smear. The Tea Party doesn’t hate all government. It hates exploitation and violence against people, whether by government or any other organization. It wants government to protect us and our property.

But when it comes to choosing between Big Government and Big Business, the whole alleged choice between government and corporations makes no sense. What is government except a corporation with guns? Obviously, such an entity can be abused and must therefore be limited by society.

Tea Party opponents point out that many corporations purchase influence with government, but don’t see how that destroys their case for a more powerful government. This more powerful government will still be influenced by corporations. In fact, a more powerful a government produces more incentive to buy influence—for such a government can do more favors for corporations.

Naturally, if corporations want a government that will grant them favors they don’t admit this publicly. Rather, they get people to crusade against corporations in order to grant the government more power. According to socialist (!) historian Gabrial Kolko, this is exactly how corporations backed government expansion in the Progressive era. While I don’t agree with everything that economist David Friedman advocates, he has explained the collusion very well:

“One of the most effective arguments against unregulated laissez faire has been that it invariably leads to monopoly.. It is thus argued that government must intervene to prevent the formation of monopolies or, once formed, to control them. This is the usual justification for antitrust laws and such regulatory agencies as the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Civil Aeronautics Board. The best historical refutation of this thesis is in two books by socialist historian Gabriel Kolko: The Triumph of Conservatism and Railroads and Regulation. He argues that at the end of the last century businessmen believed the future was with bigness, with conglomerates and cartels, but were wrong. The organizations they formed to control markets and reduce costs were almost invariably failures, returning lower profits than their smaller competitors, unable to fix prices, and controlling a steadily shrinking share of the market. The regulatory commissions supposedly were formed to restrain monopolistic businessmen. Actually, Kolko argues, they were formed at the request of unsuccessful monopolists to prevent the competition which had frustrated their efforts” [emphasis added].

So without Big Government, we probably wouldn’t have as much Big Business. Tea Party critics disagree. But I notice they never actually engage in arguments from history or theory about their economic disagreements. They just assume opposition between Big Government and Big Business (even when admitting the opposite in their own rhetoric) and treat anyone who opposes Big Government as favoring Big Business.

Then they ridicule the Tea Party for violating their imaginary version of economics.