Let’s start with the economic realm—where we seem to find ourselves “going big” in just about everything we do. Want lunch? Chances are you’ll head for the drive-thru of a global chain restaurant. Need printer ink? You’ve got your choice of giant Office Depot or leviathan Staples. Want to watch college football? You’d better like the Southeast Conference, because as the dominant conference, it’s the only one whose games you can reliably see on television. (Somebody’s made a decision, without ever asking you, that if lots of people didn’t speak with drawls at the college you attended, you’d rather not see your own school’s games.)
Even in what are intended to be bailouts of “small businesses” during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve ended up focusing to an obscene degree on the wellbeing of giant chains, while barely noticing businesses of a size that ordinary people can imagine themselves starting.
Having gargantuan enterprises constitute too great a share of our total “business mass” damages our economy’s resilience and vibrancy. We need places where promising ideas can be tried out, without having to persuade an all-powerful directorate of entrenched corporate eminences.
Venture capitalists might seem to provide an alternative path for novel thinkers, but in actuality, they often describe themselves as liking to “hunt in packs”—which is really just a dashingly-phrased admission that they have trouble evaluating ideas on their own.
By contrast, a healthy admixture of alert medium-sized and small businesses among the Brobdinagian ones can keep new approaches and methods bubbling around in our domestic economy—reducing the chance that if one or two self-congratulatory giants are caught napping, an entire American industry could be removed from play by overseas competitors.