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Down with Big Charity!

Sir Roderick of Long in a recent post asks us to consider the following proposition: “1. Big business and big government are (for the most part) natural allies.” As I noted there, “Do you mean big business as it exists in today’s world, or big business per se? If the former, you have a point (and from my quick read I don’t disagree with any of your other points). But to argue for the latter interpretation would imply that there could be no big business in a free society.”

It seems that the bigger a company is, in today’s world, the more they have to “play ball” to prosper. I’m not sure, though, why this observation is limited to big business, or even business in general. Even individuals drive on public roads, and are incentivized or coerced into using public schools, say. And what about Big Medicine, Big Education, Big Research, and so on? (And let’s not forget Big Labor!)

Come to think of it–most larger charities I’m aware of continually seek state partnerships and funding, and encourage state redistribution schemes. Down with charity!

Update: A reply to “Rad Geek“:

Charles, you conclude, “So, yeah, down with Big Charity. I agree. Where’s the problem?”

But in my post that you quoted, I ended it, “Down with charity!” not down with Big Charity. My point should be obvious. I am mocking the notion that just because you are against Big Business (understood to “mean big business as it exists in today’s world,” business that is in bed with the state), means you are against business itself—or even against “big” business per se. I am mocking it by showing how ridiculous it would be for you to be against charity (or even “big” charity), just because you are opposed to Big Charity. That’s why in my comment on Long, I largely agreed with his 6 points but demurred if and to the extent the opposition to “Big Business” was meant to include “big business” (that is, any private business that happens to be big). I was also objecting to the apparent singling out of Big Business, but I’m glad to see you agree that Big Labor, etc. are equally (?) criticizable. YOu say, “Let’s set aside Stephan’s mentions of individuals driving on government roads, or sending children to government schools. Sure they do; but this doesn’t strike me as even remotely compelling, if you pause for even a second to consider matters of degree, and it’s hard to see what purpose mentioning it really serves except as a way to just sort of scatter critique as broadly as possible. Last year, the Department of the Treasury sent me a $600 check, allegedly for the purpose of economic stimulus — just like how they also cut AIG a $170,000,000,000 check last year, also allegedly for the purpose of economic stimulus. But, well, so what? I’d say it’s still pretty accurate to see AIG as having a much closer relationship with bail-out statism than I do.”

Remotely compelling for what? Your criticism is inapt. I am not comparing the sins of individuals to the sins of Big Business (which would be disproportionate, sure). Rather, I am trying to illustrate a couple things. First, that it is indiscriminate to attack anyone for merely benefitting from or even cooperating with the state; I think you and I would agree that the ones who actively lobby it and influence it like the Defense Industry etc. are far more blameworthy than a social security recipient or road-user. But this is my point. If we recognize distinctions then this means not all business—even “big” business—should be castigated the same way Big Business is. And to the contrary, Big Labor, Big Education, etc. shoudl be attacked as Big Business is—and despite your laundry list of links showing your ilk has sometimes criticized Big Labor etc., I note that in Roderick’s list he didn’t. Rather he singled out Big Business. So which is it?

My post was one of agreement with Roderick, with the caveat that I thought it was unclear whether he was castigating “Big Business” or any “big” business. If the latter, I disagree—for some of the reasons I gave (namely that if you indict all “big business” then your threshold for sin has to be so low that you indict almost everyone, mom and pop stores, people who drive on roads, etc.). And I notice that neither Roderick in his comments, nor you here, have tried to clarify. Ratheer you seem to dodge the question by saying you against Big Charity—implying you are not against charity (or even big charity)—but without specifying whether likewise you are against Big Business but not against business (or “big” business). Well? What’s your position?

[LRC cross-post]

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • DixieFlatline September 15, 2009, 11:47 pm

    Rod Long talking about business, is like Ben Bernanke saying the mortgage market is better regulated than every before.

    Just roll your eyes and move on.

  • Marion Perrotti March 3, 2012, 6:56 pm

    Uhhm..Oh hey there, just became aware of your blog thru Google, and found that it is truly informative. Thanks and best of luck.

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