It is a rare occurrence when Hollywood produces a film that neither glorifies the welfare-warfare state, nor vilifies capitalists and businessmen. Yet that is exactly what Marvel Studios has managed with the Iron Man series. In the character of Tony Stark we see the pinnacle of the capitalist fantasy: an ingenious businessman who values property rights and self-defense, and who does not compromise those fundamental rights in the face of government intimidation and force.
According to data released this week, Samsung and Apple make up the majority of the top 20 global smartphone models sold in the first quarter of 2014. While that success demonstrates the robust market prowess of these smartphone manufacturers, the real winners are the customers, getting more services, better products and lower prices. Almost the exact opposite happens when companies resort to lawsuits to gain market advantage, a sort of rent seeking via the courts.
The benefits of government-funded university research are not shared widely enough in society, with universities retaining full ownership, for the most part, of their academic work. This means they get to profit from the government-funded research, and rarely have to share it with the taxpayers. By mandating that the research it spends so much taxpayer money on enter the public sphere, the government can more effectively spread the benefits of its own largesse and do its duty to all its citizens to provide them with the full benefit of what it produces with their tax money.
Your average government – anywhere in the world – has more resources at its disposal than just about any private company on the planet.
So when a government sets its sites on making a private company’s life miserable – it almost always can. Because it can put the full weight of the Leviathan behind the push – and it is spending Other People’s Money to do it.