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Friday, November 13, 2015

Mizzou: The Free Market At Work

The Mizzou protests continue to capture the attention of the nation. Many people are upset because the adults (and they are adults) who protest against perceived whatever-ism are supposedly acting out in an infantile and irresponsible way. They may be. But they are also imitating the modern American corporation.

Modern American corporations don't like competition. At every possible turn, the corporations create lobby groups that write legislation, propose the legislation to lawmakers and subsequently get their own corporate ideas passed into state or federal law. Corporate lobby groups not only write laws, they subsidize the campaigns of state and federal legislators in order to make sure their laws go on the books. Without fail, the laws written by corporations and passed by their pet legislators favor the corporations that wrote them, these laws create barriers to entry for other businesses that might otherwise compete with the existing corporate structure and/or profits.

Most really successful corporations get themselves government subsidies - free money. They either get direct grants or tax-free zones, written into the law, passed as "earmarks". They restrict their employees speech, fire employees for any infraction of corporate rules, dump whistle-blowers into the street, regulate the market so no possible competition can arise. Many of these activities are backed by the power of the state. The state becomes the corporations' police force,

Corporations convince the government to require businesses to have licenses in order to do business. Most government licensing doesn't protect anyone but the corporations, it is just a barrier to market entry created by market actors who are already making their money and don't want competition, much like an interpretive dance major doesn't want to have to compete for jobs with an electrical engineer.

Think "cosmetology" for instance. Do we really need hair-dressers to have government licenses before they can wash someone's hair for money? Seriously? Actually, the de facto need to get a university degree before you can get hired is just one more artificial barrier to job market entry, it is a union card whose fees are dramatically higher than any previous union ever extracted from its members:
Universities became the new apprenticeships, replacing both the agrarian small-business apprenticeship model and the union card. Whereas the earlier systems placed an apprentice into a job according to biological nepotism, the new system places people according to intellectual nepotism – only those who think the right thoughts will move into positions of power. As a result, university professors have become the gatekeepers to society. The newest political party, the university, fills the empty slots in political, judicial and media positions.
These students are doing with university administration muscle EXACTLY what corporations do with government muscle - require certain credentials before you are allowed to speak/act, and entirely forbidding certain kinds of speech/action. Mizzou students want to regulate what speech products are permitted into the university marketplace in precisely the same way that corporations regulate what products are permitted to enter into the "free" marketplace. Students threaten to stop the flow of money to those administrators who don't go along, just as corporations implicitly and explicitly threaten the flow of money to state legislators who don't go along.

And as for "free speech" in a corporate environment... wait, I can't stop laughing. Please. My stomach hurts. Stop.
Question: How many Americans are completely muzzled inside of their corporate environment?
Answer: All of them.
Why should corporations that are universities be any different than corporations like IBM or Apple? No. Seriously. Why? Universities aren't built around education, they are built around credentialing and preparation for a job. What could be better preparation for the corporate work environment than learning to keep your head down and your mouth shut while your bosses lecture you about thought-crime?

The student activists are regulating speech and action to prevent a competition of ideas in the university marketplace in exactly the same way that corporations already regulate speech and action to prevent a competition of products in the regional/national marketplace.

For universities, ideas are supposed to be their products. Students are treating the university administration in very much the same way that corporations treat the state and federal governments.

Is this good? Well, no, almost certainly not. But, when we really consider the situation, we cannot deny that Mizzou students are really just training to be American "free enterprise" corporate actors, and doing a very good job of it.

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