Stop slandering wealthy individuals. While I do not doubt that evil has been committed by extremely wealthy individuals, there is no reason to paint everyone with the title of “CEO” with a broad brush of negativity. Wealthy individuals offer us jobs that would have otherwise not existed. Furthermore, the free-market competition raises wages and deters employers from abusing employees out of fear of losing their services to a competing company. While many basic employee rights laws are right to be implemented, many modern-day employers treat their employees with much higher standards than the law requires. According to Huffington Post, Costco, for example, has an average employee salary of $21 an hour (1), far above the federal minimum wage and higher than any state- or city-implemented minimum. Large companies such as Amazon and Costco actually advocate for higher minimum wages rather than just raising the wages of their own workers; this is done, in large part, to phase out any competition that wouldn’t be able to pay higher wages.
Some free-market regulations are indeed for the benefit of our society. However, regulations that begin to severely limit the autonomy of individual corporations can lead to the demise of our society’s progression. Heavily regulated economic sectors notoriously lacking in competition experience much slower economic growth when compared to other similar economic sectors. Furthermore, large corporations use political connections and influence to leverage against startups and emerging companies in order to crush any potential competition. In the case of emerging and brand new economic sectors, limited government regulation is ripe with competition, low prices, high wages, and greater opportunities.
Take, for example, ride-sharing apps. Prior to the emergence of apps such as Lyft and Uber, only taxi drivers with a designated “yellow taxi medallions” could operate taxis in most major U.S. cities, such as New York City. These medallions created a taxi monopoly that was regulated and managed by the city's government. These medallions, once worth upwards of $1.3 million (2), now are worth a measly $160,000 (3). While this has led to massive job loss in the traditional yellow taxi business, ride-sharing apps have opened up a venue aimed at offering a service that was practically unheard of. People would be eligible to earn extra income and could choose whether or not to accept a ride. Places where taxis were practically inaccessible, such as the suburbs, now have Uber and Lyft drivers roaming the streets. Drivers who were previously unable to purchase a stake in the government monopoly in the form a medallion now had an option to create revenue in a practically infant economic sphere. This deregulated field has seen a positive net gain for both employees (or contractors) and customers of these ride-sharing apps.
In many cases, the government can provide a good or service that the free market is still not mature enough to handle. In the case of education, public safety, police officers, fire response personal, emergency services, and the military, it is my opinion, as a capitalist, that the free market is not yet mature enough to handle public goods and utilities. However, the time will come when our free market will mature to the point where it will produce these services for free and at a higher quality. Just like any monopoly, goods and services provided solely by the government are provided through a monopoly, thereby allowing for no incentive to push improvement. Under no circumstances will monopolies provide a good that is better than that left to the free market; however, I believe that the public, or the overall maturity of our capitalist economic system, is not yet ready to experience education provided primarily by the free market.
Assuming that any industry taken over by the government will present a net positive to the general public is foolish and is academically and historically dishonest. Time and time again, history has shown us that industries that have been taken over, managed, and run by the government have proven to be inefficient, ineffective, and essentially obsolete. Take, for example, the RMV and compare it to the service provided by, for example, an Apple store. Apple stores have a high level of customer service and act extremely efficiently. On the other hand, the DMV and similar governmental agencies boast poor customer service, long wait times and overall poor quality of service. Furthermore, the only privately run airport in the United States, performs more efficiently and to the same quality or even better to that of TSA agents. The Cato Institute, a Libertarian think tank, reports, “A House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure report in 2011 found that the private screeners at [San Francisco International Airport] were much more efficient than the federal screeners at LAX. SFO screening operations also had lower employee attrition rates than LAX, leading to reduced costs for recruitment and training” (4).
Allow me to conclude with a Twitter string from July 2018, by philanthropist, entrepreneur, and overall extremely charismatic CEO of Tesla and co-founder of PayPal, Elon Musk. When speaking about the term billionaire, Mr. Musk writes, “Ironically, the ‘billionaire’ label, when used by media, is almost always meant to devalue [and] denigrate the subject. I wasn’t called that until my companies got to a certain size, but reality is that I still do the same science [and] engineering as before. Just the scale has changed.” A reply from the Twitter account, “@eehouls” writes, “you literally are a billionaire... it is not ironic in any way you weren't called a billionaire until you were... a billionaire if you think it is a negative label, maybe it's because it means that you're hoarding money and resources from the rest of the world.” Mr. Musk responds quite wittily, “No, it means I created jobs for 50,000 people directly and, through parts suppliers [and] supporting professions, ~250,000 people indirectly, thus supporting half a million families. What have you done?” (5).