Page:Rise and Fall of Society.djvu/87

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Plenty by Competition

with the standard set by Brown, his well-being may have been improved. The old adage has it that "competition is good for business," and when business is "good" all Society prospers.

The anticompetition advocates like to stress the point that large aggregations of capital put the "little fellow" at a disadvantage; because of the means at his disposal the "big fellow" is able to buy raw materials in large quantities and therefore at a lower price, to put in the most advanced machinery, to invest in expensive selling campaigns. Quite true. Putting aside the fact that all this merely means greater production for the benefit of Society, the record shows that bigness in itself imposes restrictions on production; the ponderous plant lacks the flexibility necessary to meet the vagaries of human desire. Brown, the large shoe manufacturer, cannot cater to the foot that does not conform to some norm or to the whims of the fastidious wearer. His plant is geared to mass production. It is Smith, who either did not choose to become a manufacturer or was not adapted for the role, who must serve this clientele, which always grows in proportion to the increase of wealth in the community; the number of small plants or "specialty shops" keeps pace with the number and size of large industrial units. In fact, the large plant admits its limitations when it turns over to its smaller competitor the jobs it cannot do as efficiently.

There is nothing wrong with competition that competition cannot cure. The faults of competition are in the impediments that are put in its way by force—the restraints, taxes, and regulations that handicap some competitors and give others a monopoly or quasi-monopoly position. Competition serves Society best when it is free. In the field of cultural satisfactions no one would propose that competition be