(Mises Institute) In recent years, it seems that the nation’s CEOs and billionaires are increasingly willing to drop the pretense that they are politically neutral entrepreneurs who simply want to go about their business.
Last week, for example, more than a hundred CEOs met to plot ways to punish the people of Georgia by “stopping investments in states” that pass laws unapproved by the billionaire class.
This comes in the wake of a decision by Major League Baseball—a collection of billionaire-owned sports teams—to punish residents of Georgia for the fact a tiny number of politicians there passed legislation designed to lessen voter fraud. In retaliation, MLB decided to move the league’s all-star game so as to deny the residents of Atlanta the economic benefits of hosting the game.
This comes only a few years after Apple CEO Tim Cook led a corporate campaign to boycott Indiana after Cook and Marc Benioff (the CEO of Salesforce) demanded the people of Indiana be punished. This was because the Indiana legislature passed a law which some billionaires decided was insufficiently pro-LGBT.
These examples, however, constitute only a small and relatively innocuous part of the political scheming and lobbying in which powerful CEOs, billionaires, and investors routinely engage.
Certainly, wealthy CEOs are happy to throw their weight around in pursuit of social policies they like. But while the CEOs’ calls for boycotts and retribution against entire populations of various states makes for good headlines and talk radio, the billionaire class inflicts far more damage on ordinary Americans through other means.
It is not unusual to find large corporate interests like big banks, Silicon Valley firms, and Wall Street investors calling for a wide variety of policies which transfer wealth from the general public to the well-lined pockets of the monied classes. These can include monetary policies that benefit the wealthiest Americans, as well as tax policies and regulations that favor large well-established firms at the expense of everyone else.
Unfortunately, this is nothing new, and it has always been the case that well-heeled pressure groups attempt to turn their financial resources into political power…
Amazon corporation now supports raising the minimum wage. This may seem like some great populist and magnanimous move on Amazon’s part. But it is just what we’ve come to expect from plutocrats.
In fact, Amazon’s senior managers know that it can endure paying a higher wage than can Amazon’s smaller and less capitalized competition. Smaller operations have fewer financing options to weather a cash flow crunch and are thus more financially fragile.
Basically, Amazon is likely to support a wide variety of government regulations, because government regulations are anticompetitive. Amazon, of course, being the dominant firm, is motivated to crush the competition through state action.
This is partly why Jeff Bezos came out in favor of a hike in the corporate tax. He’s just hoping to stay on top, and while a tax hike is unfortunate for him, it’s even worse for the competition that Bezos hopes to destroy through his political lobbying.
We see similar forces at work when plutocrats like Mark Zuckerberg call for more regulation of social media companies. Zuckerberg is speaking as head of the industry’s largest, most capital rich, and most dominant firm. Now that he’s on top, he’s fine with more regulation, which will hurt small competitors most.