President Coolidge’s statement, “The business of America is business,” still points to an important truth today-that business institutions have more prestige（威望）in American society than any other kind of organization, including the government. Why do business institutions posses this great prestige?
One reason is that Americans view business as being more firmly based on the ideal of competition than other institutions in society. Since competition is seen as the major source of progress and prosperity by most Americans, competitive business institutions are respected. Competition is not only good in itself, it is the means by which other basic American values such as individual freedom, equality of opportunity, and hard work are protected.
Competition protects the freedom of the individual by ensuring that there is no monopoly（垄断）of power. In contrast to one, all-powerful government, many businesses compete against each other for profits. Theoretically, if one business tries to take unfair advantage of its customers, it will lose to competing business which treats its customers more fairly. Where many businesses compete for the customers’ dollar, they cannot afford to treat them like inferiors or slaves.
A contrast is often made between business, which is competitive, and government, which is a monopoly. Because business is competitive, many Americans believe that it is more supportive of freedom than government, even though government leaders are elected by the people and business leaders are not. Many Americans believe, then, that competition is as important, or even more important, that democracy in preserving freedom.
Competition in business is also believed to strengthen the ideal of equality of opportunity. Competition is seen as an open and fair race where success goes to the swiftest person regardless of his or her social class background. Competitive success is commonly seen as the American alternative to social rank based on family background. Business is therefore viewed as an expression of the idea of equality of opportunity rather than the aristocratic（贵族的）idea of inherited privilege.