It’s hard to prove or disprove statements of broad social sweep, but we do know one thing: Nicholas Nassim Taleb will not defend his assertion that big corporations are “vastly more dangerous” than big governments.
With notable frequency, people assume that I’m a reader of Taleb’s books. Evidently my thinking and his align in important ways. It’s made me mildly interested in reading him, though time constraints (or time mismanagement) have not yet allowed it.
My minor affinity with Taleb caused me to focus just a little more than I otherwise would have on a tweet of his the other day.
Big corporations are vastly more dangerous to the citizenry than big government, but with good news: corps end up committing suicide.
— Nassim NicholنTaleb (@nntaleb) April 15, 2015
That premise really caught my eye. What is the relative danger posed by governments and corporations? Are corporations “vastly more dangerous”?
I’d thought that the jury was pretty much in on that question. With hundreds of millions killed outright by government action in the 20th century alone, the quantum of death and destruction wrought by governments is almost certainly greater than corporations’ destructive work.
Like any tool, corporations are dangerous. Death and injury is a byproduct of their delivery of food, shelter, transportation, entertainment, and every other want and need of consumers, because they often miscalculate risk or just make stupid mistakes.