“Fascism is achieved through the merger of corporate and government powers.” — Benito Mussolini
This isn’t going to be a very original post. I really have little to say … because it’s all too glaringly obvious. No insight needed to understand this one …
Usually this quote is used to promote the conspiracy theory that “The government is run by Big Business”. They want you to live in fear that “big oil” companies and mcdonalds are lurking in the shadows, whispering orders to the army, the IRS, the police, or whomever.
The truth is actually more benign in some ways, and more frightening in others.
We are protected by numerous laws from most intereference with our laws by “big companies”. A company cannot, for example, donate any money to a campaign or political party. When you see politicians (like Hillary Clinton in 2007) having to give back money that was “donated illegally”, it’s usually related to some company trying to sneak money to a politician through a third party, and then they got caught. When you hear political ads warning that “so-n-so got most of his campaign donations from ‘big oil'”, it’s usually a flat-out lie, or it’s based on the thin fiber of truth that an employee or cousin of someone somehow tied to the company (a janitor, the 2nd cousin of the receptionist, etc) having contributed money. There is even a maximum amount that any person may donate.
This isn’t to say there aren’t ties between businesses and politics. Obama himself was tied to Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae long ago, and appeared at banquets they put on in his honor because of some low-level political wrangling he’d done for them in Chicago. His current administration is made up largely of people who were in his “line of business”, working with low-income housing and minorities – though it would be an assumption to say he worked personally with all of them. In the early 1900’s, infamously corrupt Tammany Hall was a den of democratic politicians “in bed with” business owners. On the lighter side (sort of), the government officials are (mostly) elected by “the people”, and when “the people” demand cleaner air, safer working conditions, equality between genders/ages/races in employment, more accessible healthcare, etc … the government is the tool in which those changes are enacted – on businesses – and to be just, those businesses should be permitted some measure of presence in the debate to decide their own fate. When we elect any politician, we also have to remember that no matter how environmentally-friendly, ‘down to earth’ or ‘progressive’ the man, a lot of money was spent bringing his face to your television. Obama, for example, was elected on a magical pedestal that cost $195 Million for the television spots alone. His chief rival, John McCain spent $11 million. Obama had a lot of additional help from “non-profit” organizations who “independently” (on paper, anyway) promoted him and his party. MoveOn.org, DemocracyNow!, and others, supported by the Annenberg Foundation and Global opportunist millionaire George Soros. Politics will always have some sort of tie with businesses.
As ugly as some of that sounded, that was the harmless part.
The Real ties between government and business that we need to be aware of are the numerous Government-Corporations. Some were created by the federal government to serve some sort of purpose that benefitted the government, a sort of “shell entity”. Some are “private” companies that the government has purchased shares in. Others, were “purchased” by the government when they went bankrupt. Some even started off as a government project, went independent, failed, and the government took over again. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are of that variety.
It is actually difficult to track down a comprehensive list of these organizations and their ties with the government. Off the top of my head i would suggest NASA is one. The Airlines are too, sort of. Railroads. Power Companies.
A search online yielded the following list:
Amtrak (National Railroad Passenger Corporation dba “Amtrak”)
Consolidated Rail Corporation
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Export-Import Bank of the United States
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board
Federal Savings & Loan Insurance Corporation
Holdings of American International Group
Legal Services Corporation
United States Government Sponsored Enterprise
Overseas Private Investment Corporation
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
Reconstruction Finance Corporation
Tennessee Valley Authority
Farm Credit System
Federal Home Loan Banks
American International Group (AIG)
United States Postal Service
North Dakota Mill and Elevator
I want to be honest about this list: I don’t believe it includes everything, and I don’t know the history or depth of connection between what is on the list and the government. I haven’t checked my “facts” yet, and this will be an area of further study, hopefully producing a well-documented and detailed list at some future date.
These companies seem pretty harmless. What danger is posed by North Dakota Mill and Elevator, for example? Or those loveable cuddly names, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae?
While it is true that some have more weight in their potential effect on the nation than others, the primary danger is that a close mix of government and business cannot be fruitful for either.
In order for a business to truly be successful, it needs to be able to stand on its own, and produce for the demand. If the business is a failure … mismanaged or unfruitful … it needs to crumble so better businesses can rise in its place and fulfill the need better.
Often our country experiences devastating wildfires. Wildfires, a “natural disaster”, have existed since trees and lightning. Some trees actually thrive on the fires – the heat being required to open their cones and ripen their seeds.
These fires also serve a purpose: they remove the failed and diseased trees, and open the forest for new vegetation. With too much of a forest canopy in this kind of climate, the trees which occur here naturally cannot get the sunlight they need to grow. With all of the new growth being sickly, the entire forest would soon die.
Darwinists might cause this “natural selection” … “survival of the fittest”.
As we have infringed upon the wildreness, building expensive homes deep in the forest, we have enacted laws and created agencies to protect our homes from this natural menace. Men die, money is spent, and crews are flown across the nation to fight these fires …
In stopping the fires, we are preventing nature from ‘cleaning house’. We’re creating more disease in the forests, with more dead underbrush. We’re preventing certain trees from reproducing.
Our well-intentioned laws, designed to protect a few wealthy individuals who want to live in luxury in “rough” surroundings, are actually increasing the danger by preventing the natural balance from happening. Every now and then, a small fire erupts, exploding into a gigantic monster of devastation.
Businesses are like those trees, and failure is like the fire. When government steps in to “help” the sick and failed businesses, the stronger businesses have little room to grow. When enough of these dried and withered businesses are propped up by the government, all it takes is a small spark to send the whole “forest” into flames, and the few strong who had managed to survive on their own are not enough to hold the structure on their own. With each new wildfire, fewer and fewer of the strong “trees” will be left standing.
Government aiding broken businesses is a bad deal for the country. But that is not in the least bit the worst of it.
When the government owns a business … say … a power company … competition quickly vanishes. I don’t for a moment suspect secret agents sneaking around making threats and having the competitors “disappear” … the competition disappears on its own. This harms capitalism, which might seem like a great thing (if you’re poor and jealous), but is actually quite bad. Without capitalism, we wouldn’t have as many choices in the goods and products that we can currently choose from. Organic foods would not be available unless the government decided they actually made a difference (and likely would not). You also probably wouldn’t have a job. Without capitalism, liberals wouldn’t have access to pornography and ‘adult items’, their favorite brand of cigarettes, bars, nightclubs, Che shirts, Save Tibet bumper stickers, Beastie Boys and Bob Marley albums, cable television (including non-profit channels), and our cars would all be pretty much the same and likely be gas-guzzling black-smokers, at least until someone in the government was pressed to change the laws.
Capitalism creates jobs, and even more, creates choices. Choices create competition. Capitalism is a merit-based system … as much as you want to complain about “the rich getting richer” … in a capitalist system you have the opportunity to quit working for ‘the man’ and go into business for yourself.
When governments own companies, they run business like they run politics. The products become worse … being mass-produced, not “environmentally sound” (until enough people in government push for changes that EVERYONE can agree on), and the workers making them become more miserable.
When governments run companies, scientific progress is hindered. Political choices determine what science to funnel money into or not. This usually means billions of dollars spent on ways to kill people, not on cures for cancer, alzheimers, or new energy sources with a better ‘carbon footprint’. Remember how angry you were that Bush stopped stem-cell research? It is incredibly foolish to build a government that gives this kind of power to the president (or to congress, etc) … because there will never be a president or ruling party that will satisfy everyone’s needs … and that naturally means that no single political dogma will remain in power forever. You saw Obama’s “first hundred days” … he spent them exclusively un-doing things his predecessor had implemented, pointing fingers as he went. It’s not much of a stretch to imagine some post-Obama president could undo what Obama has done.
You cannot give government too much power without risking your future. When you enact laws giving the government more power, you do not in any way prevent the power from being abused at some point in the future … but you do make it incredibly difficult to remove that power when ‘the bad guy’ is abusing it.
We may not know the exact outcome … the consequences of government control of the banks, the mortgage companies, the auto companies, the energy companies, the farming companies, the broadcast companies, and so forth … but we can be certain that, eventually, those consequences will be evident, and at that point it will be too late.