----- We have a model, Hydro-Quebec
Before the pandemic, the media, including this newspaper, received a steady flow of messaging from business associations and pro-business foundations and think tanks. Apart from immediate flash-points (any change to tax law, for example), these messages have been consistently critical of any government intervention in the economy, and even in social matters. Some even urge privatizing health-care.
Their corporatist view is that "individuals" make better decisions than "gov'mint committees". They appeal to exaggerated notions of individual initiative, and insist that government butt out of ... almost everything! To them, any government measure or decision limiting a business opportunity anywhere is a bad measure (unless it opens even more profit opportunities, say Arctic drilling, pipeline approvals, or foreign worker imports).
Their story has changed. Society now receives appeals for more state intervention, not less. The hostility to government continues, of course, but now it's hostility toward any government hesitancy in issuing cheques. There's never enough public resources going to the corporate sector.
Don't the apostles of individual enterprise see any contradiction in this?
It's very important to underline that small local businesses are a different world entirely from the corporate world. Local businesses are in even more difficult straits than local individuals, since business owners not only have to keep their own households afloat (as do we all), but they must also keep their businesses alive. But corporations – those which own our national media, for example – are owned by investors and investment houses, often foreign. Their dynamic is absolutely different from the family-run, local businesses most of us deal with every day.
It is the corporate entities which fund most pro-business associations and media campaigns, even those which count small independents as members; the corporate sector also funds pro-business institutes and think tanks. These are the voices usually demanding that government back away – but the same voices today are demanding the government step back to the trough and throw in another infusion of cash.
Doesn't this contradiction cause us to question the objectivity of most pro-business campaigns? If "individual enterprise" (read, private ownership) is the answer to everything, why can it not answer the COVID-related questions burning through today's economy?
If "private initiative" is the solution to everything, then when a situation (e.g., COVID-19) arises where private efforts are failing and the government has to step in and rescue the private sector – with tax dollars which otherwise fund society's social needs – then shouldn't we conclude that those failing private efforts must now be taken over by society? Shouldn't government run the services, re-invest eventual profits, and make these services even more responsive to social needs? In the Hydro Quebec model?
Our government won't get further into small business, but shouldn't the public now hear less anti-government rhetoric from big media and the corporatist institutes?