I'm using this article to discuss an important and bigger principle. There are a few people on this forum that espouse free market economics or libertarian economics.Tobacco giant 'tried blackmail' to block Ugandan anti-smoking law
British American Tobacco, in conjunction with other leading tobacco companies, is using its considerable financial clout to oppose Dr Chris Baryomunsi's private member's bill aimed at curbing smoking in a country where cigarettes kill 13,500 people a year. Anti-tobacco campaigners see the bill as a watershed moment with significant consequences for cigarette companies.
I would like to find out how you can justify having these views when time after time corporations, especially large ones, prove that they cannot be trusted to exercise the corporate power that they have fairly (and sometimes humanely).
In this example, suppose Uganda was a free market system. What authority would exist in order to contain the immense power that this corporation has welded? If there is nothing to regulate its activities, what exists to prevent BAT from engaging in unfair activities such that they consolidate and centralise power in a way that they can effectively monopolise and forcibly control the entire tobacco supply chain in Uganda? What would exist to prevent farmers / transportation workers from effectively being enslaved? Suppose you can say, 'they aren't forced to work, they can find another job', but what prevents other industries from engaging in the same behaviour?
This is a serious discussion and I know that previous debates on this subject generally derailed into 'capitalism vs socialism', so I am here trying to genuinely understand how somebody can justify the free market view of the world, especially after things like this news surface every few weeks.
One point I always read is that corporations can only monopolise with the aid of governmental authority and that without having that authority the corporation cannot engage in forceful or unfair tactics. 'Why do you place so much trust in the Government?'
My view is that politicians like to be liked and will not engage in behaviour that severely degrades their approval, and so they (mostly) do the right thing and get re-elected. Extremely pessimistic to think politicians only do the right thing to save face, but the right thing nonetheless.
Corporate managers cannot be elected, they are accountable to nobody except shareholders, which are interested only in profit. Why does giving them more power by abolishing regulators improve society? What is the reason for this view?
I invite my fellow hardcore socialist commies to comment too. Maybe we will all learn something.