Government regulation of business essentially began in 1887 with the formation of the ICC (Interstate Commerce Commission), which purportedly was intended to regulate the railroads, a dominant industry of the time. In a nutshell, major railroad companies had been unable to sustain the big profits they wanted due to “cutthroat competition” from many competitors in an unregulated environment. The railroad tycoons tried to create “pools” (cartels) by colluding to set shipping rates, but like any cartel, those agreements kept falling apart as smaller railroads offered lower rates to their customers, undercutting the attempts at price collusion. Finally, the largest railroads ADVOCATED for government to step in to set shipping rates, knowing that they had the most powerful lobbyists, could control the regulation that was enacted, and could draw upon the government’s power of coercive force to bring smaller railroads in-line with what the big boys wanted.
This is one of the best articles I’ve seen on the topic (http://praxeology.net/RC-BRS.htm). It’s long but a real eye-opener. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, check out paragraphs BRS.48 thru BRS.51, and BRS.55 thru BRS.60. There you have it … Big Business CREATED Big Government to serve its own interests, and the government continued to grow thereafter to include many other industries.
I think government is too bureaucratic, inefficient, and corrupt to do anything good. Even if government could be restored to a minimalist role, its monopoly on the use coercive force would — like flies attracted to shit — attract various groups who would again try to use it to benefit themselves at the expense of others. The only rightful role of government is to unwind their agencies and to restore the liberty that they stole. I made mention this in my recent post on police being monopolies (https://www.facebook.com/lpminnesota/posts/1323723464344117), which is a very “radical” concept … but not a single person tried to argue the logic.