P&G Owns Me — No, Not Really
It is difficult, most of the time, to explain the difference between corporatism and capitalism. So much so that “bleeding heart” libertarians distance themselves from the word “capitalism” to get on the left’s good side. Below is a map, that is circling around the lefty circles of the internet, visually implying the “power of corporations.” I circled the products I, currently, regulary buy. Apparently, I’m a fan of several products offered by Procter & Gamble. Heck, I must have voluntarily accepted enslavement by P&G, while doing some extra slave work — hey I have P&G bills! — at Johnson&Johnson and Nestle.
What is amazing is the number of products that are not in my life. From the looks of it, I regularly use 10 products out of 350 – 400 displayed. That means ~97% of the items displayed I do not use. And I’m not, purposefully, avoiding these products because the largest international corporations produce them; I ain’t a socialist or an Occupier! So, how much power is that when I can live my life, comfortably, and avoid these “nefarious” companies? There is choice. I do not eat Taco Bell. I do not eat Fruit Loops. Nor am I forced to eat them.
As for the products I do use. Well, I like them. How can you live without a Swiffer? No, seriously. What’s better than an Oral-B toothbrush at that price? I do benefit from these products. There is a market and we do have the power to decide whom we trade with. That is what a voluntary relationship looks like. Do we really have that same freedom with a government? If we are so scared of these corporate “cartels” and monopolies and the apparent “false choice” they provide, we must consider, first, the institution that has, by definition, a monopoly on violence — the government.
A monopoly on violence is more likely to create dangerous consequences than, say, a monopoly on chocolate. And it is a monopoly + compulsion. I am forced to associate with the US government, and they determine the rules of the relationship. I cannot opt-out. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is trying to close the borders and make it more difficult for me to leave. And if I try to leave, there are some countries I cannot go to — Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Cuba — because either a) the US is bombing them and my standard of living would decrease somewhat(!) or b) ridiculous sanctions are imposed and I’d have to renounce my citizenship. Even, currently, if I wanted to live abroad, I’d have to pay the US government taxes on my income. I cannot escape my relationship with the US government without innately becoming a criminal. But we are “concerned” about 10 companies, of which, I easily do not buy their products.
Nonetheless, this map is not a map of the free market. It is a map of crony-capitalism/corporatism. A feature of a free market is free-entry. That means competition is dynamic, and if a company reduces its product quality and raises prices, it is easy for a new firm to enter the market to compete. The government, through subsidies, IP enforcement, and regulations destroys free-entry.
Most of the time such laws are written by the current lot of successful firms to stifle competition and keep their successes, such as ObamaCare — a disgusting example of insurance company influence. License and permit requirements reduce competition, such as taxi medallions. Monsanto uses IP and the courts to stop local farmers from replanting seeds on their own farms. Corn subsidies tilt the scale in favor of the oligarchs in the agro-industrial complex. Then there is the blatant bailouts. The consequence is the consolidation of power because up-and-comers cannot compete with, essentially, government-backed companies. New companies cannot afford to meet regulation requirements, and subsidies keep prices down for the top market winners. In this way, an oligarchy is formed.
In a free market, there is a dynamic relationship. There is no perfect, constant number of firms that need to exist. Sometimes a single firm does, actually, successfully provide its goods to the satisfaction of its customers; other times, it can be countless firms. The key feature — it is dynamic. Look to the internet to see it in action (the closest thing we got to a free market), although ISPs — AT&T, Cox — are examples of corporatism, given geographic monopolies a century ago, and protected by the FCC.
Another interesting feature is the majority of these companies are part of the agro-industrial complex. Not only, as stated earlier, are they supported by various subsides, these corporations work directly with the government to promote public “health solutions” and propaganda — ergo, more profits in their pocket. Karen De Coster describes this relationship:
Government is always in the business of creating and exacerbating crisis, and so governments partner with phony charity fronts and corporate state powers to distort the facts with sham statistics and spread the fear mongering. These food insecurity stats are being used to show how people need additional food subsidies to “nudge” them out of that category. This article is based on a report released by an organization, Feeding America, which sounded might suspicious and very quasi-governmental. I wondered who the sponsors or partners of this organization would be, and it took me a whole sixty seconds to turn up all of the usual suspects: ConAgra Foods, Kellogg’s, Kraft Foods, Nestle’s, PepsiCo, and General Mills.
More welfare, more food stamps, and more “defeat hunger” programs mean more food sales, more market power, and more government alliances for these mega-corporate state giants. Meanwhile, there exists the hunger-obesity paradox. That is, the fact that some of the poorest people are the most obese because of the low-quality processed foods and fast foods on which they consistently feast. [emphasis mine]
In a free market, the state is no savior. Companies cannot go to the government, and through taxation and wealth redistribution, and all covered in propaganda — violence, in other words — get, in return, unjust profits. And more so, if you go bankrupt, you go bankrupt. Goodbye.
And finally, the reason I can avoid 97% of the map so easily, and not associate with what is supposed to be the largest corporations in the world, is because I live the paleo lifestyle. I do not eat carbs except what I get from fruits and vegetables. I do not eat junk food. There is increasing amounts of evidence we are supposed to eat lots of fat, including saturated fat. There are flaws in the lipid hypothesis, but government still enforces the wrong, not-updated information, the status quo:
Dr. Rosch’s colleague, a Swedish physician by the name of Uffe Ravnskov, is author of the book The Cholesterol Myths and spokesman for the International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics. At the same conference, Dr. Ravnskov stated that “autopsy studies have shown there is no association between the degree of arteriosclerosis in the arteries and cholesterol concentration in the blood, taken either shortly or immediately after death,” and also noted that the anti-cholesterol campaign — known as the lipid hypothesis — is so powerful because “there is prestige and money at stake.”
For more on the agro-industrial complex and the pharma-industrial complex, I suggest reading Karen De Coster. And go ahead and watch Food, Inc. It is a lefty film, and the documentary does correctly identify the symptoms of the agro-industrial complex, but there is no understanding how much the government is involved in propping these corporate players up.
While the relationship between these companies and the government is vile, it is the government that has the tool of violence. There are ways, still, so far, to avoid these companies, and choices we have when it comes to whom we trade with. There is even an agorist movement. Sadly and scarily, more voluntary associations are daily becoming less “legal.”