Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What's the one U.S. "corporation" that is genuinely "too big"?

I was standing in a Wal-Mart checkout line the other day, and the in-store, third-party bank reminded me of a post from a couple of years ago, about the idiots who say Wal-Mart is "too big" for government to permit it to have its own industrial banking operations. The claim is that Wal-Mart would become too dominant, drive "mom and pop" out of business, and so on. Lost is the simple logic that Wal-Mart's continued success is because it delivers what consumers want! Consumers aren't forced to go inside a Wal-Mart, let alone buy anything.

However, there is a "corporation," a quasi-business entity in the United States, that forces every American to transact business with it, and most Americans don't realize it. It's true.

This public corporation dwarfs even Wal-Mart. It takes in a fifth of the U.S. economy (and not counting all your unseen costs because of what it enforces), and you have no choice but to pay in for whatever services it provides. And it doesn't matter if you get nothing back. It's so powerful that if you refuse to do business with it, and they find out, they'll send the police after you. The police, courts and military are all in its pocket.

The board of directors has 546 people, assisted and sometimes fellated by tens of thousands of overpaid lackeys. The chairman and chief executive has 20 major advisors of his own, each with their own bloated hierarchies. Supposedly the board members are accountable to the 300 million forced American customers, but they rarely seem to be held accountable to anything. It's always the same story of bribery, sex, even drugs, and any "rotation" is merely to the next generation of corrupt officers. Many people have a sense of "outrage" but resign themselves to being forced customers for all their lives. Many others like being "forced," because they pay little for a lot of services received. The entire business seems to be making one half of customers happy with services that the other half are coerced into paying for.

This corporation's own balance sheets claim only occasional profits in the last century (notwithstanding its business model is predicated on forcing people into being customers). Back in the 1990s, it used accounting tricks to make it appear it had a small surplus, and its executives never have to sign off on financial statements. Meanwhile it hypocritically wants every other public corporation to follow standard accounting rules, and for their executives to sign off on company financials.

This corporation is so powerful, and remember its influence runs throughout the courts, that it can subject all other corporations to prosecution, fines, even breakup. This one is seemingly invincible, always holding itself above the law. Oh, a few members leave in disgrace after being caught (but often still keeping generous pensions), and even fewer are indicted, but the corporation as a whole always gets away with it. It has no compunction in employing corporate espionage to make would-be competitors uncompetitive to the point of bankruptcy. It routinely uses the threat of physical violence to force other companies into "deals." It accuses other companies of "predatory pricing," "collusion," "price-gouging" and "market manipulation," when its day-to-day operations are all about those!

Now, wouldn't you all agree this corporation is a bad one to permit to exist? It's too big, too involved in our economy, too dangerous. And the name of this corporation: the United States federal government.

Ask yourself why there's "outrage" over big companies, but rarely a significant squeak about the federal government's size -- most complaints are mere pandering to voters. Federal debt is bad, there's no denying that, but even with zero federal budget deficits, federal spending is still an enormous portion of the economy!

Ask yourself why we should be worried at all about Wal-Mart, with whom you at least have a choice. You have no such choice with government, which compels you under the eventual threat of death.

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