Power: dispersed or concentrated? (Big difference.)

Power: dispersed or concentrated?

Listen to the broadcast of You Tell Me on KTBB AM 600, Friday, June 7, 2013.

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Warren Buffett is an enormously powerful man. He has a personal net worth of approximately $53 billion, making him one of the richest men in the world. As chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc., he controls an empire with annual revenues in excess of $143 billion through the ownership of household-name companies such as GEICO, Dairy Queen, Benjamin Moore Paints, Fruit of the Loom and about a dozen others.

When Warren Buffett opens his mouth and speaks, presidents and congressmen and business titans and world potentates listen. A passing remark from Buffett can make a company’s stock either take off or tank, depending on exactly what he says.

Yet for all of his clout, Warren Buffett has no power over me and no power over you that you or I don’t freely give him. In my case, I don’t give him very much.

I don’t buy my insurance from GEICO nor do I get my fast food fix at Dairy Queen. When I repainted my house a few years ago I used Behr paint, not Benjamin Moore.

You probably don’t want to know but I’m going to tell you anyway that I don’t wear Fruit of the Looms.

And Warren Buffett can’t make me.

That’s because for every business that Warren Buffet owns, he faces competitors. Any transaction you or I have with a Berkshire Hathaway-owned company – from buying a DQ Blizzard to shipping auto parts via the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad – is the result of a voluntary exchange. Warren Buffett cannot compel you to do business with him.

Government, on the other hand, can compel you and does. As it pertains to settling your taxes or getting a building permit, you can’t take your business elsewhere. Government’s power is absolute. And we all know the quote, “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Get a letter from GEICO about buying auto insurance and you most likely throw it away. But get a letter from the IRS and the room spins while all around you enters suspended animation and your own breathing stops.

What puzzles me is that there is not a big-government liberal that I know that doesn’t identify with fear of the IRS. Every liberal I know tells the same stories that I tell about frustrations experienced in registering a car or renewing a driver’s license.

Yet these very same people with these very same real-world experiences with government will nevertheless support with blind faith just about any government program so long as the intentions of the program are sufficiently lofty.

Among liberals there never seems to be any connection made between their lofty beliefs and the actual down and dirty experiences of obtaining a vital service from the government. That it takes 20 minutes at a bank to open a checking account and obtain an ATM card because banks compete with one another; while, because lacking competition, the Texas DPS can make you wait an hour and a half in line at the DPS office and then four to six weeks by your mailbox for your new driver’s license; is utterly ignored by those on the left.

Apparently no consideration is ever given to the idea that with respect to obtaining health care, as just one example, the driver’s license experience is much more likely than the banking experience.

It boils down to who holds the cards. If it’s between you and the free market, you hold the cards. If it’s between you and the government, the government holds the cards.

When you, and millions like you, hold the cards, power is dispersed. When government holds the cards, power is concentrated.

And concentrated power will be abused. (See: ‘IRS Scandal.’)

The founders knew this. We would do well to be reminded.

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Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of ATW Media, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The TEAM FM in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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2 Responses

  1. C M Solomon says:


    The only way one can explain the Liberal/Socialist/Marxist mind-set of the Left is to recognize that the concentration of power in a BIG GOVERNMENT monopoly that they defend and worship (in spite of the frustrating daily experience with entrenched and arrogant bureaucracies) is that they have more faith (religion?) in the utopian power of a “fair government” rather than the “competitive world” of free enterprise as practiced by their fellow man.

    This “faith” in BIG GOVERNMENT despite the evidence to the contrary that it NEVER works to benefit the population at large but ALWAYS works to benefit the bureaucracy itself, is a DISEASE of the mind that borders on belief in the tooth fairy, maybe even self-delusion.

    I applaud your attempt to reason with these people and your attempt to educate them on the folly of their “belief system” that is not supported by history or common sense. Unfortunately, I believe they are a lost cause and that they must be defeated in the political arena by convincing others that are willing to learn about the virtues of “Liberty” and “Freedom” vs. an oppressively omnipotent BIG GOVERNMENT that can only exist by coercion and the BIG LIE.

    The present regimes in the White House and the far-left Democrat Party (and even the “get along” Republicans) are TRANSFORMING this nation into a Socialist autocracy at an ever increasing speed. I don’t see but a few Paul Reveres that are willing to warn us of the impending disaster that will befall us as a consequence of dismantling the Constitution right before our eyes. Those in the middle that don’t care about this debate but only care about continuing the government benefit “gravy train” that has seduced them into being loyal “low information” voters, are not likely to listen to your wisdom, either. Our hope lies in the hard working middle-class that isn’t aware of the huge controversy that is underway between Liberty and unchecked Liberalism/Socialism.

  2. C M Solomon says:

    This probably won’t get published, but I will try.

    At the risk of seeming to be ridiculous, I just thought of the ULTIMATE BIG GOVERNMENT control over the senior citizens of this country in order to gain “voluntary compliance” with the Socialist Autocracy being forced down our collective throats by Obama-Care or the new Obama-Medicare/Medicaid universal system being put into place.

    If the Obama Socialists are outrageous enough to use the IRS to punish their Conservative enemies why not use the IRS administrative control over Obama-Care enforcement to “regulate” the implant of heart pace-makers that they install into elderly citizens with heart problems?

    Is it really that outrageous to assume that the IRS would stoop to using the omniscient (all knowing) results of their unlimited database and snooping of our daily lives that could be available from the NSA (see PRISM surveillance program of every citizen by the National Security Agency – NSA) to remotely control those pace-makers for their benefit to falsely intimidate voters to keep Socialism alive and growing?

    The obvious hatred and disrespect of our Constitutional Rights and willingness to avoid any accountability for the actions of this Obama regime over the last year leaves me with absolutely NO TRUST in a responsible or honest government.

    We are now being ruled by an oppressively omnipotent BIG GOVERNMENT that can only exist by coercion and the BIG LIE.

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