Columnist Timothy Carney speaks on politics of big business

Forrest Milburn

Political columnist Timothy Carney said Tuesday at the Texas Union that he believes the interests of large corporations continue to threaten free enterprise during a lecture.

The lecture, attended by roughly 40 students and faculty, was sponsored by the Center for Politics and Governance, a group focused on politics and public policy affiliated with five schools and colleges on campus.  

“The big guys with the best lobbyists are the ones who are going to win,” Carney, an author and Washington Examiner senior columnist, said. “You almost never have the ‘friends of the Earth’ passing environmental policy, you almost never have … some consumer protection group win some protection.”

Carney said by joining with Congress, lobbyists are able to increase the costs of doing business, which in turn hurts smaller businesses and raises barriers of entry to future competitors.

“When government grows, it’s typically because of a big business that gains to profit from it,” Carney said. “That is often not mutually advancing consumer interests and is largely just protecting those large businesses who can afford the costs of the regulation.”

As an example, Carney cited President Barack Obama’s 2010 signing of Affordable Care Act, a major piece of domestic health care legislation that aims to provide affordable health care to low-income families. The act is one situation where big pharmaceutical companies joined with liberals in Congress to pass more regulatory legislation, Carney said.

Some audience members argued the government does play an important role with regulating businesses that protects consumer interests.

“Libertarians … tend to laud the free market and pretend that its an ideal world out there, and if we just leave the market alone that it would be fine.”

Government professor Bryan Jones said. “But it won’t be [fine], because the business men are absolutely just as corrupt as government officials if we don’t have the checks and balances that we need.”

Computer science freshman Trenton Beckendroff said he thinks Carney’s talk is an interesting perspective from a member of the media, especially since the media can negatively affect free enterprise by forming conglomerates.

“One of the things that he talked about was these conglomerates that we’re seeing develop, but what he didn’t talk about was that the reason why we don’t hear about them is because the media itself forms these conglomerates,” Beckendroff said. “That would be an interesting topic, but overall, just the fact that we’re talking about this in a public space is promising.”