How Big is Too Big? The Burden of the Free Market

It always shocks me when I learn that there are some people in America who embrace ideologies that violate the free market. Yes, I believe in free thought and expression and that new ideas should be discussed and explored. But we've already seen- over the course of many decades- how capitalism just works and that anything else, well... doesn't put bread on the table.

America's victory over the Soviet Union, after a long and dreary Cold War, should be enough to convince economists, politicians, and your Uncle Bill that capitalism is the way to go. I'd say "at least in America," but we've seen how socialism did so well in Russia (socialism, by the way, is the system communists put into place. Communism is the fabled goal, that no country ever attains).

We've seen that a nation's economy thrives best when there is healthy competition among businesses. Free market values not only provide the best prices and products for consumers, but give new companies an opportunity to thrive, provide good-paying jobs, and protect our Constitutional freedoms (you can't have a free market without freedom of speech).

Only when those virtues are violated or ignored do we see a nation built on capitalism begin to erode.

There are people in America determined to transform a free society into one that eliminates not only competition, but the basic drive all humans need to succeed. There are people that actually claim the government should provide a salary for every citizen.  Sounds nice, right? You don't need to go to school, get a job, or work to provide for your family! Why achieve anything great? Why try to invent the next revolutionary technology, develop skills, or strengthen your body for labor? All you need to do is sit on your ass and collect your check!

Forgetting who would actually pay for universal salaries, the notion is just ridiculous. As are most of the extreme, socialists views of the left.

Our nation won the Cold War because of the free market value of competition. From food manufacturers to car makers, from Hollywood to tech companies, we thrive because a variety of companies vie for our dollars.

But there is an inherent danger to our free market ways and it's rooted in the very companies that thrive in this environment.

Psychological quirks like loss aversion and the basic territorial nature of humanity have caused companies and individuals to fight for greater control over certain markets.  It's an ironic twist of events, where a small company thrived because of a certain practice- say stealing ideas to create an operating system- only to attack anyone that does the same to their products.

It's human nature that- once you claw your way to the top- you fear anyone else that might make their way there too.  It's the Macbeth syndrome.  It's the King of the Hill game.  It's irony. It's hypocrisy.

We see this in the free market all the time.  Big businesses would like nothing more than to destroy the environment that allowed them to thrive- if it eliminates their competition. Why do you think companies work so hard to buy up smaller competitors, turning into bloated conglomerates? It's one way of dominating an industry and removing potential threats that would knock them off the throne. And it violated our free market.

It's why so many businesses within Silicon Valley supported Hillary Clinton during the election.  You'd think that large businesses would love a conservative candidate- Trump's plans to cut taxes and bring jobs back to our country should have been a massive boon to every American-based employer. Yet, tech giants from Google to Apple wanted Hillary to win.

Why? Because she embraced policies that give existing companies a pass and make it harder for smaller companies and startups to thrive. Heavy taxes are dodged by Wall Street and large businesses- given that they have armies of lawyers and accountants to find the loopholes, but emerging businesses aren't as fortunate. Plus with more trade deals shipping jobs overseas, they would have continued to thrive off of cheap labor producing their marked-up products.

Companies aren't moral. They're companies- they can't be. The primary goal of a company is to make money, just like the primary goal of an organism is to survive.  All the good a company can potentially do is meaningless if they can't pay the bills and their staff. That means desperate or greedy companies look for an unfair advantage, even if that means destroying the very market that allowed them to succeed.

That leads to destroying competition through buyouts or political moves. Or even through the brute force of lawsuits.

It's why today's news from of the Supreme Court is so important in preserving the free market:

In a unanimous decision Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a lower court’s $399 million judgment against Samsung for violating patents involving Apple’s iPhone.

The decision overturns a victory that Apple had won in the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. The case will now go back to that court for any further proceedings, including determining what, if any, lower penalties Samsung may have to pay Apple.

Tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Hewlett Packard Enterprise had urged the Supreme Court to take up Samsung’s appeal of its patent loss to Apple, warning that the outcome against Samsung “will lead to absurd results and have a devastating impact on companies” because of the implications of how patent law is applied to technology products such as smartphones. (via Mercury News)

I'm sure you love your iPhone. I love mine too. But the latest and greatest smartphone is only great because of continued competition from other companies. Had Samsung and Google not release Android phones with larger screens and better battery life, we'd still have 3 inch iPhones with blurry displays.

It's the constant competition of companies like Apple, Samsung, Google, and (to a lesser extent) Microsoft that has propelled the smartphone market so far.  But Apple's lawsuit with its $399 million punishment would have set a dangerous precedent. It would tell every other smartphone maker not to try to compete with Apple, or else they'd crush them in court.

Apple's lawsuit was an attempt to prevent other companies from competing fairly in the market, through the abuse of certain patents. It is another attempt by a company at destroying the free market values that made them what they are.

Like our civil liberties of free speech and religion, the free market is always under attack. Every generation, there is a move from unscrupulous forces to erode the values promised to us as Americans, and we as a people need to fight back.

The same goes for the free market. Massive conglomerates and corporations would love nothing more than to hamstring innovation and the open environment we enjoy in this country to suppress competition. Be it through lawsuits, corrupt legislation, buyouts, or other tactics- they would hinder the opportunities of inventors and other businesses, just to get ahead.

The only solution is for us as citizens is to support leaders who will prevent this kind of thing from happening. We need more Teddy Roosevelt's that will trust-bust their way through industries, bringing an end to corruption and creating more competition.

Otherwise, those long bread lines might be making an appearance in your neighborhood.



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