Monopolists are perfectly impedence-matched with bureaucrats



I dig the radio terminology, nearly perfect analogy.
Pssst, pass it on.


This problem became obvious with the old Atomic Energy Commission, which was so nuclear-cozy that it had to be renamed to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to remind itself that it had an actual public-safety job to do in addition to promoting the use of peaceful atoms.


I can actually see the point of view of Congress. One day you’re a successful dentist or something, and the next thing you know you’ve been elected and they’re putting you on the House ag committee. Sure, you’re from Iowa, but what does a Des Moines dentist know about farming?

Day one, two guys are waiting in your office. One seems to know everything about agriculture, in fact he knows the names of your kids and what team you like. He’s in a really great suit, and can’t wait to take you to the best place in town.

The other guy looks like a hippie. What do?


We libertarian right-wing nutjobs have been complaining about this for years. We’ve especially been emphasizing the tendency of regulator–monopolist tag team to suppress competition. This is sometimes accompanied by high-sounding rhetoric about protecting the public against the upstarts.


They split it in two… NRC to regulate and Department of Energy (DOE) to promote (however, the DOE regulates itself)

I’d be suspicious of mister suit, and his overt friendliness, because I grew up in Western Washington, where being openly friendly and interested in ostensible strangers is considered very strange, possibly pathological.

Agreed, and I don’t get it. What did this guy say, and how did he say it, that allowed it to be viewed in a positive light? It is something I would like to learn to better communicate with others.

“Many still believe in the myth of the free market. They have an ideal situation in mind where everyone will be free from the state suppression and the free market will drive societies and individuals to balance and prosperity. It’s just an illusion because in reality the game is more rigged than ever.”

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I didn’t read the article, just the quotation, but it looks like what they might have done is not mention any kind of libertarian principles. I think lots of people have known about this problem for years, but it is a problem that is at its worst in the US and doesn’t seem to ruin as many lives in countries that people perceive to be more heavily regulated. Norway did a remarkable job of not letting oil companies dictate terms to it, while the US let’s large companies basically write their own laws.

The problem isn’t that government is bad, the problem is that when a small number of people control too much wealth, they will control the society whether it is ostensibly a democracy, a dictatorship, a monarchy, a libertarian paradise, or a hippie commune.

And the simple fact that rich people get what they want is why this position hasn’t been taken seriously from libertarians. It’s because the libertarian ideal doesn’t include controls to ensure that individuals or small collectives can’t amass wealth and take over society so a society built on the principle of liberty and minimal regulation will (in the belief of non-libertarians) simply devolve into the same state, with a few powerful rich people dictating terms to everyone else. In anarchy this is done with guns, in democracy it is done with lobbying, in a libertarian society it seems like it would be done with lawyers (more money to hire better lawyers means never having to keep your contracts and being able to force others to keep theirs, for example).

This article just explains one of the mechanisms through which money buys power even in absence of corruption. There are many. But you can’t solve that problem by removing government, because money buys power in every single other sphere, and government is one of the very few things that can actually stop the money/power from being accumulated in the first place.


There are others who believe that if we could only put the “good” people in positions of power - honest, ethical, high-minded people - and give them the levers of power over the economy, that we can un-rig the game and arrive at a just and prosperous society.

This is equally an illusion, and has devolved into kleptocracy (due to ethical failure) or slow collapse (due to simple incompetence) whenever it has been tried.

If we could target government activity at simply preventing fraud and encouraging competition, this would be a worthwhile endeavor.

But the attempt to micromanage business behavior (through the likes of Sarbanes-Oxley, the ACA, Dodd-Frank, etc) inherently benefits the biggest and most quasi-monopolist firms, who are able to spread the costs of compliance over the largest revenue base, who are best positioned to pass through all regulatory costs to the consumer with impunity, and who have the most cash available to invest in lobbying activities.

Most “progressives” on Main Street unthinkingly support these policies, and continue to vote for the Hillary Clintons, Harry Reids, and Nancy Pelosis. These latter pols then use the regulatory system to maximize their personal opportunities for graft. It’s quite an effective shell game.

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Yeah, it’s just another expression of the same problem. It isn’t just bureaucrats who have an easier time identifying with large companies they have heard of than the various interests of lots of small companies all over the nation, it’s “Main Street” people too.

You can gets lots of sympathy from a news story about a specific “Mom and Pop” shop’s troubles, and there are lots of people who make a point of going to local businesses, but regulation is really hard to understand, and the people who are best at understanding it and the unexpected effects it can have are employed by large companies who are trying to manipulate it to their benefit.

When I look around the world I don’t see places that have less and smaller government doing better than places that have more and more interventionist government, so I don’t see how I could blame “big government” or regulation. The problem seems to have something to do with concentration of wealth, or, alternately, that the English speaking world just doesn’t seem to like to vote for politicians that actually represent our interests.

Think about this article - bureaucrats listen to McDonalds instead of to small businesses. But the the people go and vote for the political parties they’ve heard of and know, no matter how much corruption and scandal there is, rather than voting for upstart political parties that haven’t been screwing them for years. It’s somehow baked into our culture that we trust the devil we know.


Never gets any less true.

“It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see…"
“You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?”
“No,” said Ford, who by this time was a little more rational and coherent than he had been, having finally had the coffee forced down him, “nothing so simple. Nothing anything like so straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people.”
“Odd,” said Arthur, “I thought you said it was a democracy.”
“I did,” said Ford. “It is.”
“So,” said Arthur, hoping he wasn’t sounding ridiculously obtuse, “why don’t people get rid of the lizards?”
“It honestly doesn’t occur to them,” said Ford. “They’ve all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they’ve voted in more or less approximates to the government they want.”
“You mean they actually vote for the lizards?”
“Oh yes,” said Ford with a shrug, “of course.”
“But,” said Arthur, going for the big one again, “why?”
“Because if they didn’t vote for a lizard,” said Ford, “the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?”
“I said,” said Ford, with an increasing air of urgency creeping into his voice, “have you got any gin?”
“I’ll look. Tell me about the lizards.”
Ford shrugged again.
“Some people say that the lizards are the best thing that ever happened to them,” he said. “They’re completely wrong of course, completely and utterly wrong, but someone’s got to say it.”
“But that’s terrible,” said Arthur.
“Listen, bud,” said Ford, "if I had one Altairian dollar for every time I heard one bit of the Universe look at another bit of the Universe and say ‘That’s terrible’ I wouldn’t be sitting here like a lemon looking for a gin.”


These attempts to “micromanage business behavior” stall out precisely because there are large vested interests working against them. They are failures from the get-go. Truly progressive policies never make it into law, unless the country is facing imminent catastrophe.

Also, I don’t particularly see why posters are touting the advantages of Libertarianism. At this point, guaranteeing any kind of freedom of competition would take more regulation, rather than less. In the US, where money rules, Libertarian political philosophy inherently benefits existing power structures.


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