Should we limit the number of companies a person can control? –Dakota Free Press


Elon Musk’s bid to take over Twitter has users, employees and shareholders worried. Social media has already taken us back to the Tower of Babel, so I guess one could argue that Musk can’t make it worse.

But the billionaire’s grab for the megaphone got me thinking about wealth, power, and what we can do to keep these things from getting concentrated in too few hands. We tax wealth in part to redistribute money and the power and opportunity that money brings to its holders. We break up monopolies to prevent oligarchs from dominating markets, abusing consumers and stifling competition.

What if we limit power by limiting the number of companies a person can control?

Democracy depends on the fact that we have no master but ourselves. It depends on the government we create (the government we are) always being a bit more powerful than any individual, group or conglomerate, so that the government can protect our civil and economic liberties from selfish bullies. If a person accumulates too much wealth or controls too many businesses or resources, that person could flex that economic muscle, flout the law, and harm society for their own gain. The freedom enjoyed by one man to own and operate several powerful corporations could cause many other people (workers, union activists, entrepreneurs…) to lose their freedom of expression and action. Just as we check and balance the branches of government, we check and balance the power of individuals with the power of the people, expressed through government, to prevent corruption and exploitation and to maximize freedom for all.

So how about an electricity tax? Tax Elon Musk and the rest of us on the first business we own, operate and make money at the standard tax rate. But double the tax rate on the second, triple it on the third. Maybe cap the number of businesses individuals can control and make money: own and control the number of businesses you think you can run, but your tax rate on business #2 and at above will be 100%.

Of course, if we base such an electricity tax on the number of companies, Musk could officially merge Tesla, SpaceX and later this month Twitter into one company (Musk ox? MusKontrol? Musk, with E for All?). Money is power, so maybe we should tie the electricity tax to each company’s revenue. Maybe a company can get too big, ie generate too much revenue, wield too much power, to be run by one person. Generate a certain amount of revenue, wield some power over a certain number of workers and consumers and the market as a whole, and an electricity tax – or, now, an electricity cap – could mean that your business can no longer be privately owned (as Musk would with Twitter). Control and ownership of the largest companies should be vested in shareholders, and no shareholder would be allowed to hold anything close to a majority of shares.

Taxes and regulations aim to balance freedoms, ensuring that no one becomes too powerful and unfairly limits the freedoms of others. If one guy controls the companies that make your electric car, provide your satellite internet, and connect you to news and community talk, that guy has a lot of power over you as a consumer and all the workers who make those goods and services. . Maybe he’ll use that power for good, but maybe he won’t – and in a democracy we don’t just let power fall into a few hands and hope that power won’t corrupt without put controls in place. Power.

Maybe let Musk buy Twitter…but tax the Twit if he does.


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