Shoots from the Grassroot Institute – Jan. 13, 2004-Big Business Is a ‘Persecuted Minority’

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“StuartHayashi Image”

Novelist-essayist Ayn Rand was right when she described big business as
a “persecuted minority.”


Naturally, the cultural establishment scoffs at this. Even many
libertarian free-market advocates fallaciously conform to mainstream opinion
here, and go out of their way to articulate their own indignation toward
“big business” out of fear of being labeled “shills for corporations.”

Example: The libertarian economist Murray Rothbard snickered that big
business being a “persecuted minority” was one of “Rand’s more ludicrous
pronouncements,” right before he made the ”’far more ludicrous”’ pronouncement that “America’s most persecuted minority” is actually “smokers.”

Libertarian Tom Palmer shows more respect toward Rand, but seconds
Rothbard’s verdict: … Rand’s dramatic style … sometimes led to
oversimplification, as in her characterization of ‘big business’ as
‘America’s persecuted minority’; her efforts to defend businesspeople from … scapegoating … led her to downplay the efforts of many involved in
‘business’ to get special favors from the state and to restrain the
activities of their competitors.”

Palmer is mistaken. Anyone who’s read the bulk of Rand’s work can
observe that she wrote much about her disapproval of corporations using
government to gain subsidies and bailouts. Palmer quickly admits, “For such
favor-seeking businesspeople she had only contempt.” She just didn’t
”’overemphasize”’ the prevalence of this phenomenon the way many libertarians do.

Reality check: Even though certain corporations receive unfair
government subsidies, that doesn’t change the fact that the cultural
establishment ”’does”’ maliciously castigate the business community.

Let’s say, arguendo, that there was a certain minority of people who
received unfair privileges — maybe someone gets a special tax break just
for being in this group, etc. But, simultaneously, this minority is still
degradingly stereotyped on TV, in movies, and in the lectures of some
college professors in the social sciences.

Let’s pretend every K-12 teacher gets a tax break on the basis of
being in the profession alone, but K-12 teachers are still constantly
portrayed as greedy, cold-hearted, and exploitative on television, as if all
of them are evil and it’s freakish for a single one of them to show
compassion. College professors give long sermons about how K-12 teachers
are insensitive and don’t care if Third-World children starve.

By Palmer’s standard, K-12 teachers ”’aren’t”’ being persecuted here,
just because there exist laws that unfairly favor them. But most people
would notice that, even if such laws exist, these people are still being
”’mistreated”’ if academia and the media spread some prejudice about ”’all”’ of them being mean-spirited.

So how’s that different for businesspeople? Almost every new sci-fi
movie utilizes the clich