I have another guest post over at A Thousand Nations. Here's a sliver:
If people like Shirky are right, it’s getting cheaper both to monitor and to organize against special interest groups—at least select ones. I’m not saying we’re anywhere near being able to fight them at parity. Perhaps we’ll never be. Nor are we likely to see the immediate effects of our new distributed, organization tools. But we may soon be equipped at least to slow the process of “demosclerosis.” We may already be. And as long as our collective productivity gains outpace the growth of the deadweight state, we’ll be okay—at least in some less-than-savory utilitarian sense. We’re also going to be better equipped to drive creative destruction and out-compete the government in some of its historic monopoly areas, such as education. (We might even unleash the forces of social entrepreneurship if you believe folks like Michael Strong.)
My optimism ends there, however. Read the whole post.
The film should be called "Crony Capitalism: A Love Story." It's typical for leftists to blame capitalism when, the fact is, government is usually at the alpha and omega of any "crisis." But at least we may agree fundamentally with the premise that corporate welfare is evil. I have only seen this trailer, but I hope he gives as much shit to Congress as he does to Wall Street.
Robert "Fourth" Reich proposes something chilling in the wake of government's takeover of the auto industry, from the NRO:
As Chrysler headed into bankruptcy, the government got the company’s creditors that were dependent on TARP funds to do its bidding and take a substantial “haircut.” The banks, too, knew to heed the directive of the ultimate interlocking directorate.
As the next logical step, former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich has proposed putting public directors on the boards of all companies in which the government has an ownership stake. “In exercising their oversight function,” Reich writes, “they should seek guidance from the president and his top economic officials.”
Over time, this public-private arrangement will be subject to all the traditional pitfalls of interlocking directorates, from collusion to conflicts of interest to strategic myopia. The directorates have at times been used to create cartels, commonly defined as “a form of collusion between firms in the same industry aimed at restricting output and increasing prices.”
What's worse? This is the sort of thing Mussolini did. Whenever college students say something about "corporate fascism," it's usually due to a brain spasm. Now that we actually have it, not a peep from the kids. They voted for the fascist. Due to our public education system, most Americans are ignorant sheep. "Mussa-who?"
This article, currently making the rounds, is just flat depressing. It reminds me that in addition to returning to the Founding principles, we need to return to calling a spade a spade.
Socialism is theft. It doesn't matter how you slice it. Socialism, redistribution -- whatever you want to call it -- requires the initiation of force by some power. C has forcibly to strip resources from A and give them to B. We don't allow this in our everyday lives. There is no reason we should allow this from our government. Just because 50% + one vote says it's okay, doesn't make it okay. Socialist democracy is just a tyranny of the majority. If we continue to allow such theft to proceed unabated, we are in for another Dark Age, a piecemeal, marginal crumbling that could happen over decades, even a century. But more importantly, state theft is just wrong. It doesn't matter who carries it out, or with whose mandate. Corporate welfare is wrong. Social welfare is wrong. And all other variants of socialism are wrong. If a majority of Americans think resources should be taken out of the exchange and savings sector and put into the charity sector, let that majority put its resources into philanthropy. But compulsory charity is evil. Socialism is theft.
Alina Stefanescu Coryell has a killer post that summarizes the unholy relationship between corporations and governments around the world. Looking at the work of one Ian Bremmer, Stefanescu Coryell tackles a global phenomenon that is starting to make Marxist metanarratives look vaguely true (thesis-antithesis-synthesis, at least).
People who say that either full-on capitalism or full-on statism is utopian should read this and decide whether the world needs a little more utopianism. What's in between ain't healthy at all. Welcome to state capitalism. A sliver:
One of the critical-- and critique-worthy-- features of state capitalism is this close relationship between the government of a country and its putative entrepreneurs. This client-patron relationship threatens to unravel the performance of global markets. Since commercial decisions are often left to political bureaucrats who lack experience in managing commercial operations, their decisions frequently make markets less competitive and productive. There is no way for markets to fix these irregularities when distorted by the power of political patronage and the competitive advantage offered by state subsidies. Motivations underlying investment decisions become political rather than economic. As a result, state capitalism adds costs and inefficiencies to production by injecting politics and corruption into market operations. The client-patron relationship encourages businesses to put greater stock in maintaining current regimes and backing an expanded, often dangerous perception of "national interest" and foreign policy goals.
Under state capitalism, economic entrepreneurship is replaced by political entrepreneurship. Unfortunately, one need only take a walk over to Congress to observe the tawdry power of political entrepreneurs in even the American system.
We aren't just talking about Venezuela or China. GM?, GE?, nationalized banks?, government healthcare?, etc., etc. The dynamic America, one in which free entrepreneurs created new systems of value as fast as it could destroy and replace old power-centers, is moving rapidly towards sclerotic corporatism. Whether we're talking about the rightwing military-industrial complex, or the green-and-agribusiness-union-bailout-bank-takeover mob on the left, we are moving into an incentive system as perverse as it is byzantine. Brave. New. World.
... which I wrote originally for the Fund for the Study of Spontaneous Orders Conference (on Spontaneous Order). Anyone interested in complex systems, economics and needs some bathroom reading, please feel free to download and print.