From The National Review
Even the rich are underdogs against the government.
Libertarians can sometimes sound like Chicken Little screaming that the sky is falling whenever the government does anything. But President Donald Trump’s battle against Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shows that they have a point.
Trump is furious with the Washington Post, which is owned by Bezos and has been highly critical of the president, and he wants to punish Bezos by going after Amazon. Trump is reportedly considering raising Amazon’s shipping costs through the U.S. Postal Service, canceling a pending Amazon contract with the Pentagon, pushing red states to investigate Amazon, and generally using antitrust and tax policy to punish Amazon.
The balance of power between Trump and Bezos shows that even if you’re skeptical of libertarians, you shouldn’t dismiss them altogether: Government power can be very dangerous.
Some point out that Jeff Bezos is the richest person in the world. But Bezos’s wealth does not exist in a vacuum; it exists because the government respects his property rights. It’s more relevant to compare Bezos’s power with that of the U.S. government, which Trump has at his disposal. No matter how rich he is, Bezos will always be the underdog.
Other countries show that rich people are no match for the government. In Russia, Vladimir Putin effectively eliminated the oligarchs who did not support him — seizing their wealth and driving them into hiding. In the process, he took control of the economy and the media through oligarchs who supported him. In China, president Xi Jinping used an anti-corruption campaign to drive out his enemies, which cleared the way to his becoming president for life. Just recently, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman imprisoned rich people in a hotel and reportedly had some of them tortured until he could extract their loyalty or their wealth. In all three countries, the story is the same: The only people who are rich and powerful are the people whom the government allows to be rich and powerful.
In America, everyone is supposed to be equal before the law. That is why Trump’s grudge against Bezos is so dangerous. When the government goes after political opponents, it undermines the rule of law.
Not that Trump is much interested in the rule of law.