Jewish World Review Sept. 22, 2003 / 25 Elul, 5763

Neil Cavuto

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Big Companies vs. Big Government | Why is it that for some liberals, big government is OK, but big companies are not?

The reason I ask is because so many of them have teamed up to shoot down new Federal Communications Commission rules that would let media companies expand. Now, to be fair, liberals are hardly alone in this effort. Groups from the National Rifle Association to the American Civil Liberties Union have made it known they don't much like the bigger media idea — a key reason the Republican-controlled Senate rejected what the FCC first proposed.

Some fear they'll lose a valuable local voice in an increasingly big-conglomerate-dominated world. The ones who bother me are those who have no such issue with a big-government-dominated world. That's apparently fine. I think it's just weird.

I mean, is it me, or is there something dopey about thinking it dopey that Viacom getting bigger or News Corp. (my parent company) getting more dominant is a problem, but Uncle Sam insinuating himself in more of our lives is not?

Leaving aside the NRA, when is it fine for a government program to get more intrusive but not a Fortune 1,000 company? I hear liberals complaining mightily about Viacom boss Sumner Redstone and News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch imposing their views on the public, but the critics never say a word about how liberals try to impose their government-fix-all rules on the same public.

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Take the Department of Education. Not even three decades ago, its new Cabinet-level status was supposed to coordinate all our national education efforts. Schools would operate more smoothly, test grades would soar, and students nationwide would be better off.

Well, hundreds of thousands of bureaucrats later, news flash: A lot of schools still stink, and federal rules and regulations are such that few of those schools could make things right to suit their local systems even if they wanted to. Companies didn't create that mess. The government did.

Just like the government has made a mockery out of welfare and scores of social programs whose initial aim was to lend a hand but for which we're all now paying an arm and a leg. The budget and head count at Health and Human Services has exploded through Democratic and Republican administrations alike. And last time I checked, a lot of us are still unhealthy and, judging from our expanding waistlines, getting a lot unhealthier.

But liberals refuse to see federal fat. They're much too focused on corporate fat. And not once have they bothered to chew the fat with real folks: real folks who've been polled on this very subject and find the local news they're getting from so-called evil media conglomerates to be fine. Even residents of cities whose principal television stations and newspapers share the same owner complain not a wit about either the quality or quantity of that coverage.

It's as if some liberals think Viacom getting bigger or General Electric doing the same through its vast NBC empire, soon to include Vivendi Universal's entertainment assets, happens in a vacuum. Keep in mind, these guys live and die by the quality and, more importantly, popularity of their programs, their newspapers and their radio offerings. It doesn't matter how big you are, if you don't get good ratings, you don't make good money. In fact, you risk making no money. And big or small, haven't a few media powerhouses found that out?

My point here is not to stick up for the company I work for but to make sense of the country I love. It's a slippery slope when you exact a double standard in this country — assuming a government getting bigger is fine but companies doing the same is not. Companies at least have to answer to shareholders, who are ruthless when firms don't measure up. Our government should be just as accountable to its taxpayers, who are increasingly powerless when it does not.

The issue isn't Homer and Bart Simpson conquering the world. After all, they're merely cartoon characters. Liberals just act like them.

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Neil Cavuto is managing editor of Business News at FOX News Channel. He is also the host of "Your World with Neil Cavuto" and "Cavuto on Business." Comment by clicking here.


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08/25/03: Friends and hypocrites
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08/04/03: PHONY BALONEY!
07/28/03: The meaning of a pin
07/21/03: We are what we eat
07/14/03: Don't like it, don't keep it!
07/07/03: The check, and the recovery, is in the mail!
06/29/03: Who says Al's our pal?
06/23/03: The big pitch for the "big get," no big deal!

© 2003, Neil Cavuto