Double Standard

It's an article of faith on the left that big government is less dangerous than big business because while both have power, government power is accountable to the people via the ballot box. There are a number of strong counterarguments to this, with which I'm sure most of our readers are already familiar.

It recently occurred to me that there seems to be a large overlap between the people who make this claim and those who believe that the reason some CEOs have what they consider to be excessive compensation packages is that they've wrested control of the boards of directors from shareholders.

These two beliefs strike me as inconsistent. In any large corporation, the average shareholder, weighted by percentage of ownership, is far more sophisticated and owns a far greater share of the company than the average voter. If shareholders can't even keep the management of their firms from raiding the company coffers, then how can voters possibly be expected to do any better at holding politicians accountable?

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Devil's advocate

I don't think that big government is necessarily less dangerous than big business (I generally prefer many competing smaller businesses), but I can think of a pertinent difference:

Big government is more transparent by statute. Any voter, and particularly the press, can get a wealth of information about how the government operates. Business are allowed to keep more secrets. For example, there is generally no record (much less a public record) of how each member of the board of directors votes on each issue presented to the board, AFAIK.

Government has secrets

Government has secrets which it is illegal to divulge. It is nearly certain that government secrets include many secrets much larger and also much more evil than the secrets kept by large corporations. The nature of the activity of the vast majority of businesses is such that they are unlikely to be doing anything approaching the evil that governments do. Sony, Microsoft, Toyota, and Google, even if they were 100% opaque, would be unlikely to harbor secrets as tremendous as the secrets kept by government. Moreover, corporations are subject to the law whether they want to be or not, whereas government is by its nature above the law at critical points. Government can require, upon pain of imprisonment, that its employees refrain from divulging secrets which no corporation would be able to. Corporate non-disclosure agreements are, I would presume, unenforceable insofar as they require a person to keep secret crimes being committed by the corporation. But government activity is largely criminal to begin with - that is, government is largely in the business of doing things which it is illegal for non-government actors to do. And not all of these are done openly.

So I would not call government "more transparent" than private corporations.

Were government truly transparent there would be nothing for spies to do.


Not only does the government also have secrets, it also has more influence on the average voter through laws, what it tells the media, etc. Corporations don't have nearly as much control, if any, over their shareholders.

We have a revolution every 4 years but nothing changes.

Why? Because the same people and companies own both parties. All we do is change tax collectors.