Months ago the story broke. Harvey Weinstein, famous producer of numerous top Hollywood movies was accused of sexual harassment, assault, and outright rape. It was shocking to most of America. Holy Lord! This man, who many idolized and saw as an artistic genius, was in his private life not just a pervert, but a sexual predator, forcing young women hoping to get into show business to sleep with him or worse.
As the weeks went on, heavy hitters in Hollywood, news media, and politics faced similar charges. It wasn’t just Weinstein, but Kevin Spacey, Bill O’Reilly, Charlie Rose, and most recently, Matt Lauer. It is important to recognize that this isn’t a left/right issue. The lefties in Hollywood covered up for their own, the same way Fox News covered up for Roger Ailes and O’Reilly. It also isn’t confined to a single form of media – movies, television, news, online media – every arena is facing these same accusations.
The common strain in all of this is what Lord Acton warned against. “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
In the light of the Nobel Prize winning economist F.A. Hayek, this makes perfect sense. It shouldn’t be any surprise that those in power abuse their power. It goes to confirm what Hayek taught – that power shouldn’t be confined in a single area.
Central government does not work. The reason for this, as Hayek explained, is because knowledge is widely dispersed. No single person, or even a small group of people (i.e. Congress, or various executive bureaucracies) can possibly have the knowledge of the market as a whole. The free market incorporates everyone’s knowledge and organizes the economy and society in the best possible way, taking into account everyone’s needs and desires.
In 1988, in Hayek’s The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism, he wrote,
“Whereas, in fact, specialised students, even after generations of effort, find it exceedingly difficult to explain such matters, and cannot agree on what are the causes or what will be the effects of particular events. The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.
To the naive mind that can conceive of order only as the product of deliberate arrangement, it may seem absurd that in complex conditions order, and adaptation to the unknown, can be achieved more effectively by decentralizing decisions and that a division of authority will actually extend the possibility of overall order. Yet that decentralization actually leads to more information being taken into account.”
Decentralization leads to a better society, and Hayek makes this clear in his essays on knowledge and power. Yet, what we see in Hollywood, politics, and news media, is a centralization of power. Let’s break this down.
Who held almost complete control over Fox News, the #1 cable news channel in the world – Roger Ailes. Ailes’ affairs HAD to be known by more people than the few women who courageously came forward and rightfully accused him of sexual harassment. He held too much power. Power should be spread out, just as knowledge is.
Who held almost complete control over politics – the DNC and RNC. Within the past few days, the RNC has renewed their efforts to support Roy Moore, who has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women. The accusations mean nothing to the RNC, which is more interested in maintaining a Senate majority than in standing by what is RIGHT. Power corrupts.
Who held almost complete control over Hollywood – Harvey Weinstein and his ilk. The list continues to grow, with hundreds of women accusing dozens of Hollywood high rollers. The question remains – who knew and DIDN’T say anything? Considering how far this scandal has gone, it is very hard to believe that no one knew about Weinstein or the rest. People knew, and because they didn’t want to lose their spot, they kept quiet.
Power corrupts. We know this. History proves this. Human nature does not change. Power corrupts.
The solution is to limit power as much as possible. Unfortunately, government at nearly every turn enables power to compound. The FCC grants licenses for cable news channels to host certain content run by certain people. Television is entirely run amok with regulators. The regulations they set are so hard to abide by that only large corporations with huge legal teams are able to meet their standards. Government enables the centralization of power in the case of television.
The RNC and DNC have for years conspired to control United States elections, so that it is hard for third parties to appear on the ballot and even harder for them to appear on the debate stage with the Republican and Democrat candidates. These two parties have all of the power, and an after effect of having that power is politicians feeling “untouchable”. For decades Congressmen like John Conyers were sexually harassing women (HERE’S the latest on Conyers), and they even passed laws that helped them cover of their actions.
(By the way – virtually EVERY SINGLE CONGRESSMAN SUPPORTED COVERING UP SEXUAL HARASSMENT SCANDALS OF MEMBERS OF CONGRESS!)
The great rule: Power corrupts. This is why we MUST oppose the consolidation of power in every sphere. The free market does the best job of keeping power limited and dispersed.
The uninformed will argue that the free market enables monopolies, but history will have it that most monopolies are actually made by government. Rules and regulations keep new competitors from entering the market. The solution is to repeal these regulations, and allow more competition. More competition means that power is going to be more spread out.
Hayek’s belief that having a small number of people make the decisions for the rest of us, despite them having a small fraction of the information, will result in a greater consolidation of power remains true.
Economics is not just a study of numbers, charts, graphs, and formulas. It is a sub-study of human action itself. Human beings are flawed in nature and respond to incentives. If the incentive is “getting away with it”, we can make the assumption that a certain number of people will follow their flaws and behave in egregious ways. The free market limits any single person’s ability to “get away with it”, by limiting their power. If we want to stem the growth of this behavior, we need a freer market in every arena.