Thursday, July 7, 2011

Inception: The Myth of Monopoly

Inception (Two-Disc Edition) [Blu-ray]
You Are The Mark
There is an idea in the movie Inception that you probably didn't even notice.  It probably seemed like a familiar idea, one that you had heard before.  It seemed so natural, so logical, as if you'd always believed it.

A foreign, nonsensical idea has been planted in your mind, so deeply, that you have never thought to question it.

But it was a lie.  A foreign idea, put gently into your brain so that you would unquestioningly accept it.

Here's the movie's premise: Mr. Saito pays Dom Cobb to break up Robert Fischer's monopolistic company.

Did you notice it?  Or did it sneak past again?

The Dream
This idea that Inception strengthened, was planted in your brain years ago, when you weren't paying attention.  Sometime while you waited for the bell to ring for recess, and you wondered if that cute girl in the desk a row away had looked at you first, or had caught you staring, and you held your bladder to see which would go off sooner: your bladder or the bell.  An idea was implanted.

Whether or not you made it to the bathroom before you wet your pants, you were probably tested on this idea, to strengthen its grip on your mind.

You have always thought that monopoly meant a big, greedy, business that took too much of the market share.  You thought that anti-trust legislation had been passed to protect us from these evil monopolies.

But until the 20th century, a monopoly was considered a governmental interference on the free-market.  That is, until government took over education.

Government says its schools exist so that everyone, even the poor, can get an education.  Why, then, are middle-class kids forced to go to government schools? Why is truancy treated as a crime that requires police involvement?  Government performs inception in its schools.  They fill young children's minds with myths about governmental history that borders on religious indoctrination. These ideas make our children  "good" citizens.  Not citizens who ask critical questions, but citizens who walk through life like it's a dream, and don't wake up and start demanding answers.
Reality sucks!
The Reality
Monopolies have always been created by government.  King George III's two-cent tax on tea was levied to raise revenue for the Crown, through its monopoly, the East India Company.

Our government followed the King's example, by giving monopolies to the Post Office, AT&T, the Federal Reserve, and so on.  Lysander Spooner, a businessman who was audacious enough to open a postal service that competed with the Post Office, brought down the Post Office's prices by 70% through competition.  The government created a law to smash Spooner's business.

The government does not foster efficiency, lower prices, or create better products.  The government crushes entrepreneurs, creates monopolies, and increases prices.  Always.

We should, therefore, not be surprised that anti-monopoly legislation has always been used as a weapon to destroy efficient, low-cost businesses, in favor of inefficient, high-cost businesses.  The company that cannot compete with better products and lower prices, lobbies the government to crush its competitor, who "unfairly" provides a superior product at a lower cost.

This is why the FEC recently targeted Google.  Google did not shoot anyone, or burn down any buildings to get a huge share of the market.  Google virtually created the market it now dominates.  It provides the best service, at the lowest cost (free).  And for that, it will be punished.

Big companies are not monopolies.  They are rich, but frightened, and ready to crumble with the next innovation that they are too slow to adopt.

In a free market, the largest corporations are never safe.  If they do not keep prices low, and innovate, some smaller company will come out with a better, or cheaper product, and put the big dog out of business.  These big companies know this, and so they lobby Congress to pass laws and regulations that make it too expensive for small companies to enter their field.

So big companies can only become monopolies with the help of the government.  In a free-market, their market share is a free-for-all.

Your Totem
Dom Cobb in the movie Inception claims to be able to create mental defenses to protect against mind crimes.  We, too, can take this movie, which nonchalantly strengthens the idea of non-governmental monopoly, and use it against itself.

Inception is a perfect analogy for how government crushes competition, and screws the consumer, for its lobbyists.

Mr. Saito paid Dom Cobb to break up Robert Fischer's company.  In plain English, Mr. Saito (a failing business) paid (lobbied) Dom Cobb (the government) to break up (file anti-trust suits) against Robert Fischer (Google, or another great company).

I'm the government.  And I'm here to help.

Remember that, and your mental alarms will always go off when the Dom Cobbs of the world try to "protect" you against monopoly.

Further reading:
Anti-Trust, Anti-Truth by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
Monopoly and Competition by Murray N. Rothbard
Myth of Natural Monopoly by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
Fear of Monopoly by Brad Edmonds
Monopoly Prices by Ludwig von Mises

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