Let’s say God is no longer God, but is now the Chairman of the Universe. Everything falls into the great free market system. Those politicians who want less government get what they want and more. Remove the government completely. The United States of America is now the United States, Inc. No more church and state. Every state becomes a corporation, i.e., Minnesota, Inc., Idaho, Inc., etc. Same for every church. Even religious aggregates become corporate entities, like Christianity, Inc., or the Hindu Corporation.
The University is now a private enterprise, and if governor-elect Jesse Ventura has his way, no more state funds. If you’re smart enough to go to college, you’re smart enough to run a business.
The vice president of Universe, Inc., is Bill Gates … of course. Bill believes “big is good.” God’s board of directors no longer includes all the saints, but instead all the CEO’s of all the mega-major conglomerates. Along with Microsoft, these mega-companies just keep getting bigger. Mom and Pop stores still exist, but shudder under the rushing tidal wave of merger mania.
In this perfectly free enterprise system, I wonder how things will get done without a government. If police protection is now a business, this means we have to pay directly for the service. Since it’s free market, anyone can own or start a police service: most likely subsidiaries of major corporations, like the Microsoft Police Company, or the Coca-Cola Police Service.
Without government regulation or deregulation, highway construction, health care, the environment, etc. are all up for grabs. And the ultimate benefit from all this … no more taxes. And don’t worry about that patent suit Apple filed against Microsoft … they’ll work it out — to consumer benefit.
Many people believe it’s not the government that controls things, anyway. It’s big business that gets things done, along with the help of a few, struggling, smaller competitors. Big mergers are the wave of the new millennium, something that’s been gaining steam probably since the Reagan era. It starts with banks. NationsBank joins BankAmerica. Citicorp links with Travelers. First Chicago NBD Corp. shakes hands with Banc One Corp. Big is good.
According to Richard Peterson of Securities Data Corp., in 1997, there were an estimated 10,700 merger and acquisition transactions in the United States, with an estimated value of around $919 billion. The Citicorp/Travelers deal is valued at more than $70 billion, the biggest in American history.
The thrust behind such behemoth mergers is giving consumers what they want. This requires global expansion — it comes with the territory of providing the best product or service for the best dollar. Everyone’s in on the “get big” bandwagon, but the telecommunications, banking and securities industries are leading the way in giantness. DEC and Compaq, MCI and WorldCom, Coopers and Lybrand with Price-Waterhouse are three such earthquakes benefiting the new economy.
Remember, big is not bad; big is good. Mergers have a positive effect on shareholder value and consumer service. Prices are dropping. Who wants antitrust enforcement when such monstrous takeovers and mergers net us cheaper cars, faster tennis shoes and easy electronic banking right in our own homes?
What’s wrong with partnership? Antitrust legislation is a result of government interference, and Ventura and the Republicans don’t want that, so God, as Chairman of the Universe, is giving it to them. Man, the anti-government people must be really happy in this new world order. There are a few drawbacks, however.
The little church on the corner doesn’t have enough money to fix the roof and add more pews. Well, an offer to be a part of the biggest church chain in the world ought to take care of those problems really quickly. And a side deal with the Microsoft monopoly will put a couple dozen computers in the church’s back rooms with very little added cost. Public education financing is no longer mandated, so the little schoolhouse across the street from the little church is now offering 12-course buffets as part of its lunch program and as an incentive to attracting wealthier students who prefer such service.
From media conglomerates to fast food chains, America’s current standard of living would be much lower without merger mania. We have a McDonald’s on every corner and hundreds of cable channels to choose from for our dining and listening pleasure. Vast distribution networks are the reason why South Dakotans have just as easy access to the latest CDs and videos as those in major urban centers. It’s big business that will put an airline outlet in nearly every small town. It’s big business that allows us to import our bananas from Nicaragua.
And big stars? We sure like our megastars as well. I’ll choose a Meryl Streep or an Al Pacino movie over a cast of unknowns any day. Why? Because I know the movie company that produced such films is going to give me quality entertainment for less money. Maybe you disagree, but you’re in the minority. Take a look at ticket sales for Titanic. Not really big, big names, but the movie made up for it with a big, big picture. Not once did I ever hear anyone say, “This movie is too big.”
So I’m pro-free enterprise and I’m pro-big business. I’m going to the University of Minnesota, not some cheap little community college. And I’d like to see the University earn its money without going to the state for handouts. Underneath it all, I’m greedy. Remember Michael Douglas in Wall Street? “Greed is good.” I wouldn’t mind having a few friends on Wall Street.
If I had a little electronics firm kitty-corner from the little church and school, and the big guys came along and offered me a couple million while I currently can’t pay the rent … well, what would you do? If I were a recording artist running a small label out of my basement, and Sony offers me a distribution deal that will make me a world star, would I say, “No, I’d rather play in dives and try to make my living selling CD one-offs?” If I were a Carlson School MBA graduate, guess where I’d look for work?
If free market solutions, corporate mega-mergers and big business in general are so bad, as many critics feel, then why do we continue to move in such a direction? I don’t see the thousands of visitors to the MegaMall standing outside Macy’s carrying signs that say, “This place is too big.” I don’t see blockbuster movie budgets getting smaller. And I like being able to withdraw cash from an ATM with my digi-card while I’m on vacation in the hills of Argentina, soaking up the paid-for sunshine I got after selling millions of my CDs worldwide.
Jerry Flattum is the opinions editor for the Minnesota Daily. Send comments to [email protected]