Over the past 130 or so years, a LOT of American politicians, both Demo and GOP, have made a name for themselves in trustbusting and anti-monopoly stands and legislation.
Since the time of the semi-deified Teddy Roosevelt, virtually every president and Congress have supposedly sought to control the evil corporations which over the years have held monopolies on goods and services. Therefore robbing the American people of freedom of choice in what we buy and whom we buy it from.
The result has been less than spectacular. Even though government has constantly touted its successes. Steel, meatpacking, oil, railroads, telecommunications, weaponry, electronics, and many more have been broken up. Hundreds of mergers of companies have been prohibited. Billions of dollars have been spent and wasted complying with the various regulations and requirements, and the costs of actually breaking up these trusts, cartels, and monopolies.
Yet, today many observers note that monopolies and near-monopolies do not just continue to exist and be developed. They seem to be more powerful, more impactful on the economy and the American people.
Although that is not the primary subject of this commentary, it nevertheless touches on our topic for today: the incredible and truly profound and predominant monopoly in the American economy. And in American society.
But wait a second, Nathan, you say. We have a federal system: it was designed that way to avoid a monopoly of government by a monarch, or a congress! Or worse!
So we have been taught, for a very long time.
But let me argue that the Federal Government, the FedGov, effectively holds a monopoly on the actions, the power, that we have given to government in general. Yes, we still have States and state governments. We still have local governments. But I do not think it in error to point out that a very large percentage – perhaps 90% or more – of the actions of State and local government are dictated by the FedGov today. Or prohibited: what is not forbidden is mandatory. All the powers we consider local governments to have are hedged in by federal laws and regulations and interpretations: streets and roads, water, sewer, planning and zoning, dealing with crime (police and courts) and so on.
It is even worse at the Statehouse level, when the FedGov demands and gets control of how State government even functions, and where more and more money (with its purse strings) comes from DC.
No monopoly is perfect, but the FedGov monopoly on government is just as strong as any past historical monopoly by businesses or individuals. And indeed, the monopolies themselves, past and present, are often dependent on actions by the FedGov. The FedGov has been the inciter and expediter of monopolistic practices. And just like those past “private” monopolies, the FedGov lock on government is harmful to the health and viability of our economy and our society. And therefore to people – as individuals especially.
Just as the actions of local governments and State governments steal away our money, our rights, our liberties, and therefore our prosperity. And although we can “vote with our feet” and move elsewhere, that choice is less and less a good option, as FedGov and State governments expand and local governments busily annex more and more areas. Extending their monopoly of power over us – and facing less and less competition.
At the same time, governments make it harder for startup governments to compete by offering more freedom from taxes and regulations. Dreams of a “Free State” or a “Silver Dollar City” of 35 or 30 years ago have never proven possible.
What is the solution? That remains to be seen.