II. How Did This Happen?
(click here for part one)
Perhaps we have found ourselves, our lives and our economies (both national and personal) oppressed by governments and cooperations because we have fallen victim to convention via apathy and possibly even the general waning and misplacement of compassion. Sure that sounds harsh so allow me to soften the blow by stating that maybe we haven’t done this so much on purpose but rather we have been coerced into doing so. A big conspiracy? No, nothing like that; rather, a series of instances (some related, some not) that allowed both the well-meaning but misguided and the opportunistic to take advantage of our trust.
So where did all this begin? Good question. Perhaps there is no clear answer but we do know that governments have had a tenancy (intentional or not) to oppress their people in one way or another and/or become corrupt and tyrannical, to varying degrees, since they began. The Forefathers of the U.S. knew this and wrote The Constitution in such a way to restrain the government and limit its powers in an effort to ward off eventual tyranny as long as possible. Don’t take my word for it; do some research and I think you will find that they were very concerned about impending tyranny. They felt that government was a ‘necessary evil’ but also knew that historically, all preceding governments had eventually succumb to the temptations of power and corruption.
How did cooperations get into the mix and how did they become convention? For that answer, let’s look back to before the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries…yes, it takes something a long time to become conventional. Before this time, very few people in comparison to today, had ‘jobs’ as we look at them now. In other words, very few actually worked for someone else. It’s almost hard to imagine now as that self sufficient independence has all but been eliminated from our society and our culture. The Industrial Revolution possibly forever changed the socioeconomic and cultural conditions of most the world.
As time pressed on, we saw that these advancements had their merits. New, time and effort saving products were introduced and old ones were either replaced or produced cheaper and faster. The individuals that made the ‘old products’ in their homes or from a small shop, couldn’t compete and often times ended up working for the very companies that drove them out of business. The companies that produced the products, of course, wouldn’t barter for them. One couldn’t offer them some vegetables or offer to help them raise a barn, for example, as they could when they were doing business with the individual. Some with larger farms were able to keep them or even able to expand them in order to sell their food for cash; the cash that was needed to purchase the products of the companies. Others ended up working for either the companies or the larger farms to earn cash to buy the various companies’ products and, eventually, the food from the larger farms.
In the coming years, our desire to conform, our desire for newer and possibly better things outweighed our need and desire for diversity and self sufficiency, thus, we have become almost entirely dependent on companies and corporations for our goods and services…and they know that, of course. This worked okay for a while as some enterprising individuals opened and maintained smaller businesses; after all, competition is good for the market…as long as it’s a free market. The trouble comes (and it did) when a government steps in ‘to help’ …history has proven this to be true time and again. One of the earlier examples in the US of government intervention into the market is the trade embargo instated by none other than one of our Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson in his second term as President. Of course, he meant well, but it had devastating effects on the country’s economy.
Eventually, other well meaning politicians would pass this law and that regulation ‘to help’ and/or ‘protect’ the people and our businesses rather than to allow the natural cycles of the market (such as supply and demand) ‘weed out’ the poorly run businesses and undesirable products so that the well run businesses that produced the better products for the better prices (that were in demand) could prosper. Larger companies and corporations began to realize that these laws and regulations could be used in their favor under the guise of protecting the consumer. The ploy? To lobby politicians into passing rules and regulations that seemed to be in the best interest of The People…rules and regulations that only these large companies could afford to comply with, thus, driving their competition (smaller businesses) out of business.
This is called regulatory capture.