Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It's The State, Stupid!

Recently people, namely activists and some who champion 'liberty' have been decrying big businesses for one reason or another. Whether it be Walmart for Janet Napolitano's Big Sister announcement or the boycotting of Amazon for pulling Wikileaks from their servers. We're even supposed to approve of hacking into credit card companies because of their “anti-Wikileaks” stance.

I would like to clear a few things up, although to many it may seem pretty obvious.

I don't agree with the Big Sister Walmart venture, but Walmart is a private business. It can do whatever it wants. Walmart does not have a monopoly, it must compete with Sears, K-Mart, The Bay, etc. And it doesn't set prices arbitrarily low, it functions by profit and loss and it's very good at it. Recently (within the last century or so) businesses have grown exponentially thanks to State involvement in the free market. It may immoral for employees of Walmart to use the State to squeeze out competition (if that is in fact, what they're doing) but the blame lays more so on the State than the dishonest entrepreneurs.

Those concerned about Walmart running local “mom and pop” stores out of town should look to why this may have happened. Remember that once upon a time Walmart was a mom and pop shop. If Walmart offers lower prices and better services and more people prefer to shop there – then there is no reason for the “mom and pop” store to stay in business. Regardless of one's personal opinion, the mass of consumers have spoken. Is Walmart using the State to advance their business? If so, the problem is State coercion, not the profit-and-loss function of the market economy.

And then there are Wikileak related boycotts. Even among libertarians there was a general feeling that people who support Wikileaks should boycott Amazon. Why? Well Amazon was hosting some Wikileaks servers but when the leaked cables came out a few weeks ago, the US government threatened Amazon to drop their support. Amazon is another private business that relies on its consumers to stay in business. When the Military Industrial Complex comes knocking on your door, most people oblige and follow through on their demands. The fact that Amazon was even hosting these servers to begin with should be a reason for applause. The fact that they pulled the servers when the State threatened them is only human nature. The guys at Amazon want to stay in business. Hosting Wikileaks servers is not their main source of income.

And then there's hacking into credit card companies because they withdrew support from Wikileaks. That's just plain illegal and acts of vandalism like that will only make the public more sympathetic to “Net Neutrality” laws that put the State in control of the internet.

Think of it like this – in a small town a thief steals documents from the Mayor's office that shows how corrupt he is. It was theft, true, but considering the State itself is a criminal gang and the Mayor is nothing but a thief with a pension – the two cancel each other out. Now let's imagine all the police in the town are on the lookout for the thief with the stolen documents. The police realize that eventually this guy has got to eat, so they target the only grocery store in town. They tell the owner “when this guy comes in the store you let us know... or else.” Frightened by the coercive arm of the State, the grocery store owner complies.

Now a bunch of hoodlums catch wind of this 'deal'. All a sudden, in their minds, the grocery store owner is anti-truth and one night they go to his store and throw rocks through all the windows. The poor grocery store owner now has to pay for all these repairs, and the State certainly isn't going to help pay for any damages. This senseless act of vandalism resulted from the grocery store owner complying with the State – as if he had a choice to begin with – he was only trying to run (and mind) his own business.

In this scenario it's painfully obvious how dumb these hackers really are. The boycotts are pretty stupid too. Our enemy is the State, not private individuals running private businesses.

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