Their concern, in brief, is that large companies who create and sell essential products, like oil, clothing, food, etc, will sell their product below cost for a time until all of their direct competitors go out of business. Then they will be the sole provider of their product. Now, with all the other competitors out of business, the monopoly will be able to raise their prices as high as they want because customers will have no choice but to pay the high prices. The fear is customers will have no choice but to buy from the monopoly and will then become paupers paying outrageous prices for what they need to survive.
These fears are completely unfounded. Many have already shown monopolies can’t really exist for any length of time in a free market. The best work on this is probably Thomas DiLorenzo’s, The Myth of a Natural Monopoly. But you can find a lot about this topic if you’re looking for it, even an article by Ben Doolin on this website. I’ll leave it for others to explain why it is so difficult for a monopoly to exist without a State.
What I want to focus on is the hypocrisy of supporting government because one is against monopolies. The vast majority of these people who express such fears about the formation of monopolies in the absence of government ignore the fact that government is a monopoly. They’re the biggest monopoly in the world. They are in complete control in nearly every market they involve themselves in. No one can compete with them.
Unlike our hypothetical free market monopolies, the reason it is so difficult to compete with government monopolies is because the government uses violence to maintain its monopoly. In a free market a monopoly could hypothetically form by providing the best customer satisfaction at the lowest price. Government does no such thing. To form their monopoly, they exercise violent control over both the consumer and potential competitors. They force consumers to pay for their product even if they don’t want it. And any companies who seek to compete with them are subject to the coercive monopoly. The State determines what the rules are such a company has to follow and determines whether or not they will even allow the company to enter the market. Government is the worst kind of monopoly, relying on violence instead of the maximization of customer satisfaction to maintain their power over the market.
I’m sure if we asked most people whether they would prefer a violent or peaceful monopoly, they would say they prefer a peaceful monopoly. They will then continue to insist government is a necessity in order to prevent the formation of monopolies. In their opposition to peaceful monopolies, they’ll persist in their positions against monopolies by private companies and in favor of government monopolies, despite the clear absurdity of such a stance.
Why do these people who claim to be against monopolies support a government monopoly? They think a government monopoly is different because they can control it. They believe they can control government’s monopoly on violence through voting. If a company has a monopoly, they have no choice but to buy the company’s product and they have no say in what they do. With the State, they have the sacred right and opportunity to vote every once in a while to help decide what the government monopoly does. That allows them to not be a helpless victim. They have influence. They’re even allowed to be a part of what the monopoly does.
How much control can people actually exercise? Functionally none. Technically voting allows people to exercise a statistically insignificant amount of control over the government monopoly. The individual has essentially zero control over the State. Any honest analysis of the size of government, how it functions, how much voting is one, and the two party system makes this unavoidably obvious. Voting doesn’t give you power over what the government does.
First, there are tens of millions of government employees who aren’t even elected. Many of these employees form departments which actually create and enforce laws with no elected officials who are even in the department. They are held accountable so indirectly, you’d probably have a statistically better chance causing a tornado by flapping your arms than successfully voting to hold them accountable. The vast majority of government is unelected and is uncontrolled by the individual voter.
Now we get to the people held accountable by the almighty voting process. There are a handful of elected officials at the city, county, state, and federal level citizens can vote for every 4 years. These are the government employees over whom the voter has the most amount of control. And you, you lucky dog you, have the opportunity to cast a vote for someone to be in one of these positions (much fewer than .01% of the total government employees who effect your life). And good news Spot, you can vote for anyone you want to take these positions. In your excitement to get your guy elected, don’t drool on the carpet just yet.
Let’s just talk about the national government which exercises the greatest amount of control over your body, your property, your free will, and does the most destruction. Again, millions of employees you can’t vote for. Many unelected departments which make and enforce laws you must follow. But, there are a couple of law-making and law enforcing agencies where you get some say, where the power is yours!
Of the 435 members of the House of Representatives, you get 1 vote in hundreds of thousands to elect one of them every two years. Of the 100 Senators, you get 1 vote in tens of millions to choose two of them every six years. Every four years you also get one vote in hundreds of millions to elect a President who heads up the executive branch. Obviously, this amount of influence over who is elected is insubstantial. Add to this, there are nearly always only two people who have a chance of being elected and you’re probably not going to like them. Sure, you can vote for someone who won’t win if you’d like, but there’s less point in that than voting for one of the two who will.
Then when they get into office, you have to cross your fingers and hope they’ll do what you want, even though it’s well known they’re a group of liars who not only won’t do what you want, they won’t even do what they said they were going to. Your sway over even the elected government is essentially: Your vote allows you to have functionally no say in electing someone you don’t want, who won’t do what they say, to a position of power over you which shouldn’t exist. This silly process is why people accept a government monopoly even though they’re deeply afraid of peaceful monopolies.
I’m no mathematician, and thus I’ve done no real math, but based on these numbers, every voter has an approximate control power of 0.000000000000000000001 of 100. Voting doesn’t give you control. Voting gives you the illusion of control. You have no say. You have no power. But you think you do because they’ve taught you since childhood that you do. The illusion becomes a powerful delusion because we’re creatures desperately afraid of helplessness.
People want to feel like they are in control of what happens around them. Otherwise the world is just a crazy and unpredictable place they have to successfully navigate without being able to impact what happens to them. The fear of having no control is so overwhelming they will grab onto any sense of control they are offered. And they do. Even though it’s nonsense. Even though it’s pointless. Even though it’s an illusion. Even though it’s nothing. Because to the desperate and fearful mind, going to a location and filling in a bubble with a #2 Pencil makes them feel like they have power over the violent monopoly known as the State.
Next time we’ll talk about how the State and those who support the State have successfully misrepresented reality and created a false narrative about the necessity of a monopoly on violence.