Monday, June 21, 2010

Economic Terrorism (the New (anti)American Way)

This is a followup to my last post, where I was pointing out that BP, with all their mistakes and gaffes, is not necessarily evil for doing so (as it also is not in their own self-interest), where the capacity for the government, led by a capitalism-loathing administration, has a great capacity for evil in serving their own self-interest.

Naturally, the response from some quarters has been that I'm not only excusing BP (which I wasn't of course), but that I'm giving them the political equivalent of a hand job (my colorful words, because I like to lighten up in the face of demagoguery).    The view expressed was that since BP made bad decisions that caused an accident, cost lives, and led to a disaster, anything done to them in retaliation is okay, whether it be restitution they pay, a legal process, a political shakedown, or terrorism.  And it's all because they're a BIG EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVIL CORPORATION.

Of course the solution are to pile on regulation, make them pay for everything imaginable (including shit that's not their responsibility, like people who are out of work due to the government moratorium on drilling), and use them as the example/scapegoat/symbol of every reason capitalism is an utter failure.  And it's all because of one of the most asinine, short-sighted, and ideologically motivated theory on capitalism:

"The reason BIG EEEEEVIL CORPORATIONS exist is to bend over and fuck the ass of the average person (without lube), eat their babies, and kill them after putting sugar in their gas tank, all in pursuit of every penny they can steal from real people who actually work for a living rather than sitting in ivory towers mounted on yachts and pissing champagne down on all the small people who they view as simply pawns to sell poison and death to...[and so on]."

I could go on there, but I think I've been ridiculous enough.  And yet, that exaggeration is based on the fact that I can never find a kind word for a company that makes more than a few bucks here and there from the people who profess to be intelligent, yet seem to also fail to grasp even the most basic concepts of a market economy (which is what you get when pure capitalism is tempered by the rule of law)  And as a result, I get to "defend" people who will be paying out the nose to defend themselves anyway, because the rule of law is how you define right and wrong in this country, not any particular ideology.

So we get plenty of people whose goal is to terrorize corporations in the pursuit of killing them, even though it has been corporations, and their little brothers in small businesses (which spawn the corporations if they are successful enough) that have given us the prosperity and freedom we now enjoy (and some condemn in an act to sheer self-loathing).

Now I'm not going to say that capitalism is pure and perfect as the yellow driven snow.  But it's the best system that can be managed when your principles dictate freedom for all.  It must be tempered by the rule of law, with the courts and legislature acting as a check when the corporation begins to infringe on the freedom of others.  Of course, government being government, dereliction of duty has been the watchword for a century or so.

Corporatism - I had to Wikipedia this one, because it's usually wielded as a perjorative (also noted in the Wiki).  In essence, it's any situation where business and/or government, and/or religion start the inbreeding, leading to less-than-free markets.  Whether that's through some kind of partnership (as opposed to a simple commercial transaction) where the company exists as semi-government entity (Fannie and Freddie), or is supported by government welfare (too many to list, although both my employer and my father's company are looking to do just that), or through market-killing measures designed to benefit the company that gives the most cash (which is why government must be limited), it's a situation that pervert the market, giving police power to corporations through the government.  This is a bad thing.

Economic Fascism - This is the mirror of corporatism.  It's where the government, through legislation, taxes, and (under Obama) thug takeovers creates elements of a quasi-command economy.  In this, corporations (in pursuit of their profits and survival) seek to be the favored of the government, ultimately being an arm of the government against their will.  This is just as bad, worse since it can lead to the obliteration of the last vestiges of the free market (socialism/communism/Marxism/etc).  In short, goodbye freedom.

Now you'll notice that I avoided the inaccurate cliches of "less regulation" and "smaller government" in discussing the above.  Because that is not always the answer in the free market.  In the end, if you get the regulations necessary to protect every individual's freedom, the quantity (which will be logically less) does not matter).  And limiting what government can do to a corporation is important in two ways.

First, it protects the maximum amount of freedom for individuals to buy what they want, protecting corporations from litigation that tugs at the heartstrings but requires an abandonment of sense (the McDonalds coffee incident), and providing for a system by which opportunity is maximized and intrusion is limited.  And second, it eliminates the ability of a corporation, group, or the government from distorting the market to their financial or political advantage.

So for those of you who think that giving more power to the government will magically fix the EEEEVILS of the Big Corporations, it's the power of government to dictate things that they were never meant to that has led to where we are now.  After all, wasn't it the government who gave the safety awards to BP?

Just sayin'.


soapster said...

Excellent post Patrick. Of course it's all right on point. What is also worth pointing out is that whereas "big eeeeevil corporations" are deemed inherently bad due to said corporation's pursuit of self-interest (indeed many times not representative of a rational one), big bad labor forces/unions are somehow inherently good. To be sure, the latter too serves their own self-interests (despite claims of striking for "the kids" or "the patients" etc.). But here too it is far from a rational or healthy one. The magnitude with which the "fair" wages and "fair" benefits and pension packages they seek have brought and continue to bring great economic harm upon the private sector are well documented.

dmarks said...

Never mind the private sector. What's the worse that can happen in the private sector when greedy thuggish unions get their way? Companies go out of business.

The real danger is the public sector unions. These thugs aren't fighting to take money from corporate fatcats: they are fighting to get rich at our (the taxpayers) expense. And they do it in a way that greatly damages critical government missions. See what is happening in education now with the NEA having changed priorities from educating children to lining fat wallets.