Conservatives, being generally happy people, are often surprised at how many liberals seem to be so angry all the time. Just look at the Left’s irrational hostility toward “the rich” – they practically drip with venom toward anyone who makes more money than they do (with the exception of left-wing Hollywood celebrities, that is). And nowhere is liberal animosity toward success more clearly on display than in their attitude toward “big” business – they hate corporate America. But much of this animus stems from the fact that liberals typically exhibit little understanding of economic realities, and virtually no concept of how the world of business and commerce actually works.
In casual conversation with your liberal friends, just mention (especially in admiring terms) some big oil company, an insurance company, or even better, a pharmaceutical company. You will get an immediate knee-jerk reaction, almost invariably accompanied by a litany of bumper-sticker slogans about “corporate greed” or how “big corporations only care about their shareholders.” Now, the reality is that, by law, a corporation’s primary fiduciary obligation is indeed to work in the best interests of their shareholders; they can go to jail if they don’t (see ENRON). But that fact aside, this anti-business sentiment exposes some of the many false notions held by today’s liberals, who will often talk about how “immoral” big business is.
But corporations (assuming they are not engaged in illegal activities, of course) are neither “moral” nor “immoral” – they are amoral. They exist exclusively to yield a profit to the owners (whether individuals, like “Joe the Plumber” or the millions of shareholders of EXXON), by producing products or services that PEOPLE WANT TO BUY. That’s it. And that’s enough. Conservatives know that people can decide for themselves what products they want, and from whom they will buy them. They don’t need government to decide for them.
Liberals, however, have an entirely different (and distorted) view of commerce and business. They see business, just as they see government, as a vehicle for “social engineering.” For example, liberals do not understand that someone starting a business doesn’t do it in order to “create jobs” – they do it to make as much money as possible. Workers are merely a necessary expense in producing the products or services that the business wants to market, and a well-run company will employ as few workers as possible to achieve that end, and not one more.
Nor would any properly run business want to pay workers one dime more than their skills and experience are worth in a free labor market. To do otherwise is to turn your business into a charity. True, successful companies have learned to look for good, productive people, and to pay them well. But they do not act out of some misplaced sense of “social justice” (liberal code for Marxist redistribution of income). Smart companies pay their top workers well because they have learned that to do so is good for the long-term bottom line. Both the company and their good employees win (see Harvard Business Review: – “The Service Profit Chain”).
Henry Ford is a good example. Liberals will often point to Ford as an “enlightened” business leader because he paid his workers above the prevailing wages of the day. But he did so, not out of altruism, but because it was ultimately profitable to the Ford Motor Company. Even revered American icons like Thomas Edison or Alexander Graham Bell worked tirelessly in their labs because they fully intended to produce a product they could ultimately sell – for a PROFIT.
Almost as important is that in a well-run company, bad employees are also weeded out. As they should be. Most liberals, especially those in government, have never had to make a payroll, so they believe that no one should ever be fired – they see employment, much as they see everything else, as a “right.” But in the real world, no one “owes” you a job. No one “owes” you a particular salary or wage. Nor does any company “owe” you health insurance, or any other benefit. You are worth only what your skills, experience, and talents can command in a free marketplace.
Unions may have had a place in the last century, when it was possible for a corporation to control an entire town. But in today’s mobile world, where a worker can go wherever the jobs are, unions do little other than to destroy free markets by extorting more money from a company than a worker is actually worth. They also prevent poor performing or unnecessary workers from being fired, which drives up costs to the consumer even further, until the company has no choice but to move overseas – think of all the industries that no longer exist in America.
Note also that when ever-increasing government regulations, out of control unions, and high taxes finally do force a company to move to another state, or out of the country, liberals naturally blame the company for “shipping jobs overseas.” In spite of all the historical data that lay the blame for lost jobs at the feet of liberals, they never accept responsibility for the easily foreseeable results of their job-killing policies.
Liberals even express hatred for a hugely successful company like Wal-Mart, often vaguely accusing the retail giant of somehow “taking advantage” of the poor. But Wal-Mart is a company that has done more for America’s poor and lower income citizens than all of the government social workers put together. Wal-Mart provides products that would otherwise be out of the reach of many Americans. Wal-Mart also employs people who would never get hired by many of the snooty “green” companies that liberals worship.
Now, if you don’t happen to care for Wal-Mart for whatever reason, then fine, don’t shop there. And if you don’t like their pay or working conditions, don’t work there. You have the freedom to make those choices. But that’s not enough for liberals, who seem to think they have the right to demand that government interfere with private companies in order to force them to conform to their utopian (i.e. socialist) visions of “fairness.”
One of the business sectors that really sends liberals into apoplexy is the pharmaceutical industry. Time and again you will hear some hand-wringing neo-socialist whining about the “outrageous cost of a pill,” declaring that it isn’t “fair” that they have to pay so much when they “need the drugs to survive.” The irony that they would die without the research and development that led to the drug seems to be lost on them.
The average cost of a new drug is now almost a BILLION dollars, and the time to develop it is about 15 years. But liberals seem to think that after all of that time and money that was spent to bring them a new, life-saving drug, they are somehow “entitled” to have it for the price of six-pack of beer. They act as if the organization that invested that billion dollars shouldn’t be able to even recoup their investment, let alone make a profit.
Speaking of profits, liberals will claim that they are not against profits, just “excessive” profits. But who are they to decide what “excessive” is? Besides, in the real world, there is no such thing as “excessive” profit – since no private business can force you to buy their products. Only government can do that, in the form of taxes. Yet liberals have no problem with “excessive” government “profits” – they don’t let out a peep when the government makes 5 times as much “profit” on a gallon of gas as EXXON or BP does. They love when the government “profits” in the form of income taxes – especially when it’s those “evil rich” who are the one’s paying them (50% of Americans now pay NO Federal Income Tax at all).
The truth is, liberals despise the entire concept of profit. The left-leaning news and entertainment media display this view constantly, often inserting anti-capitalism messages into TV programs that relentlessly decry the profit motive as something unseemly, if not downright evil. Note how liberals who work for some “non-profit” organization will announce it with insufferable smugness, the implication being that those who work in the for-profit world of business are somehow morally inferior. The fact that most non-profits would not exist without massive charitable donations from “big business” is ignored. Without profits, non-profits wouldn’t exist.
It has been the pursuit of profit that has yielded just about every major advancement in human history. From the industrial revolution to the information technology age, profit drives innovation. Profit, or more accurately, the desire for profit, encourages work. Profit rewards success. Profit creates wealth. Without the ability to profit from our own labors, no human progress would be possible. Profit, and the free enterprise capitalistic system that makes it possible, is the foundation of prosperity. Profit is good.
And drugs are no exception. If you remove the potential for profit, you will see research and development dry up. As government exerts more and more control over the health care arena, it’s already happening. Admit it, you yourself wouldn’t dream of committing to spending hundreds of millions, even billions of dollars, to develop a new drug or treatment, if you knew it would likely be yanked from your hands as soon as it is released.
When it comes to anything related to medical care, and you cut through all their emotional rhetoric about people “dying because they didn’t have insurance,” you find that liberals are nothing more than socialists – they believe that they have a “right” to use the power of government to force someone else to pay their medical bills. Whether demanding government price controls on drugs, or expecting their health insurance to be paid for by their fellow taxpayers, liberals want everything for “free.”
In the real world, however, nothing is “free” – everything carries a cost. And the more government is involved in what should be free markets, the greater the cost to all of us. The cost of health care today is directly related to the increasing intrusion and negative influence of government, both in terms of subsidies and regulations that force doctors to spend 40% of their conforming to government mandates and practicing defensive medicine. Contrary to those who claim that “the free market has failed,” the opposite is true – there hasn’t been a free market in health care in 50 years. We have instead experienced ever increasing government interference, with skyrocketing costs as a direct result.
In reality, if both Federal and State governments were kicked out of the health care business, costs for most products and services would plummet. A perfect example is LAZIK eye surgery, a very serious medical procedure – after all, if they screw up, you could be blind. When it first came out a decade ago it cost $6,000 or more. Today, you can find ads in the Sunday paper that quote a price of $495. The reason is simple – LAZIK is the product of a genuinely free market. No government program is paying for it, so consumers do what they do for everything else they buy – they shop for the best price, and suppliers have to compete for their dollars. But when someone else is picking up the tab, why would anyone care about the cost?
Conservatives trust the public and the free market. They know that American free enterprise has created the most prosperous, economically powerful nation in history. Meanwhile, liberals believe in government, the bigger the better. I’m astonished at the number of liberals who actually trust a government worker more than they do a private sector worker. While they hate and fear “big business” liberals are absolutely in love with “big government” – in spite of the fact that government is an infinitely greater threat to their freedoms than any private business.
This is why, when the economy takes a hit, rather than let the market correct itself, liberals run to government for a “solution.” But more government is never the solution – it more often simply makes things worse. Our current perilous economic situation is the direct result of years of increasing government involvement, repressive regulation, punitive taxation, and ever more reckless government spending, capped off by the Obama administration printing money by the truckload.
Unless and until America’s liberals come to their senses, stop demonizing corporate America, and once again embrace the world of American free enterprise, our downward economic spiral will continue.
Unfortunately, I am not optimistic.