The FDA’s attack on milk substitutes is a great example of how business and government often conspire against both consumers and smaller competitors. Lots of folks see Big Government as a needed counterbalance to Big Business, a way to protect consumers from predatory capitalists. In reality, it’s more like two wolves and a lamb (consumers) deciding what to have for dinner.
Government and big corporations are natural allies. We see this especially when it comes to legislation and regulation.
Big corporations can afford the army of lawyers and lobbyists needed to help shape legs and regs. A revolving door exists among government agencies, lobbying firms, and big companies. Small businesses, on the other hand, get little to no say in the process.
This allows big companies to weaponize regulations, giving themselves carve-outs and subsidies, while imposing burdensome compliance costs that their smaller competitors will struggle to meet. A process intended to protect citizens and ensure competition instead throws up barriers to market entry and cements the dominance of Big Business.
We need health and safety regulations — no one argues against that. But once we go beyond this minimum and start picking market winners and losers, then government becomes a friend to the wealthy and powerful.
Progressives too often put a naïve faith in government and fall into the trap I just described.
For their part, conservatives too often default to being pro-business, rather than pro-free market. The goals of Big Business are frequently anti-free market. Capitalists just love them some corporate welfare and sweetheart regulations.