December 13, 2011 by galudwig
According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans fear Big Government more than Big Business by a ratio of 3 to 1, an increase compared to the last poll. This might be surprising to some because of the Occupy Wall Street movement dominating the headlines in recent weeks.
The Occupy Wall Street movement, focused on “fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations,” has drawn much attention and a large following. Still, the majority of Americans do not view big business as the greatest threat to the country when asked to choose among big business, big government, and big labor.
Additionally, while Occupy Wall Street isn’t necessarily affiliated with a particular party, its anti-big business message may not be resonating with majorities in any party. Republicans, independents, and now close to half of Democrats are more concerned about the threat of big government than that coming from big business.
The way I see it, people fear Big Government because it has power, coercive power, over us individuals. And, as Lord Acton famously said, power corrupts. Government becoming bigger means that the possibility of this power being used for ends we as individuals do not agree with increases. Some people, notably the OWS crowd, fear Big Business for the same reason, ie because it is deemed to have an inordinate, ill-gotten amount of power over people. But what ill-gotten power does Big Business wield over individuals exactly apart from that which results from the collusion of government with business?
The failure to answer this question and the realization by most of the fact that business is good and big business also, as long as it is not imbued with privileges granted by the government, is in my opinion why most people, correctly, fear Big Government more than what OWSers would call “the evil corporations”.