It’s time to throw big business off the Republican stool

StoolBy Rick Manning

The Republican Party winning coalition has traditionally stood on a three legged stool consisting of God, guns and economic freedom with the economic freedom part of the equation being the glue.

The God part of the equation tends to revolve around social issues. Many of those in this category hold a strong belief in a sovereign God who manifested Himself through Jesus Christ.  This religious belief is not something held by every, or even, quite possibly, a majority of Republicans, but it is a fundamental part of the Party’s winning political equation.  In 1976, Jimmy Carter, a practicing Christian, broke this part of the coalition off from the Republicans and squeaked by to win the presidency.

In Pennsylvania, the late Democratic Governor Robert Casey, Sr, and to some extent his son, Senator Robert Casey, Jr., broke this leg of the stool by standing out from their Party and supporting right to life issues winning impressive majorities in the process.

The guns portion of the coalition is a combination of Second Amendment and strong national security voters, many of these voters are veterans who can be identified by the American flags flying in front of the homes year round.  This middle class voter fervently believes in the idea of America and tends to be a constitutionalist.

Reagan’s famous “Bear in the Woods” 2004 television ad appealed to this voter’s sense that defense of country is the government’s first and foremost responsibility.

For those who don’t remember, the bear in the ad is Russia and the Cold War was raging.  Russian force capabilities in Europe exceeded our capacity to defend the West, and President Reagan was in the midst of changing the madness of the, “if you blow us up, we’ll blow you up” mutually assured destruction promise.  There were those who argued for defense cuts, and appeasement, Reagan stood firm and the Soviet Union’s Gorbachev folded his hand as his economy collapsed under the weight of centralized planning.

Now, an entire generation has been raised without that bear in the woods, and our nation has fought small insurgent wars in the interim against an ideological enemy which transcends traditional nation states.  An enemy, who for politically correct reasons, remains unnamed by our government officials.

The guns wing of the Republican Party is in danger of being fractured as very real concerns about abuses of national surveillance systems overwhelm the very real concerns about attacks by Islamists as well as the continuing rise of China and the re-emergence of a strong Russia led by Vladimir Putin.

However, while this patriotic wing of the Party is somewhat ignored, it is susceptible to breaking away over concerns about immigration, and free trade policies which seem to result in smaller paychecks, fewer jobs and a weaker America.

It is then the third, economic freedom leg of the stool that should be a great unifier as the current Administration attacks private property, individual initiative and prosperity on every front.

Over the past fifty years, American’s aspiration for better lives through hard work, personal initiative and the unique opportunities to pursue their dreams offered by the free enterprise system have been eroded by the growth of the dependency society.

However, with nearly fifty percent of Americans receiving a government check in some form, and the economy in a slow, steady decline with fewer and fewer people even participating in the labor force, the underpinnings of the economic freedom stool are being shaken to their core.

This leg of the stool has also been effectively used by Democrats to define Republicans as the Party of the rich among voters in the other two legs of the stool.  Ironically, this deliberate miscasting of those who believe in limiting the size and scope of government as being tools of the corporate elite is now being used by some within the Republican Party to foment a civil war.

In the early 2000s, Washington, D.C. Republicans seemingly lost sight of their purpose to limit the size and scope of government.  With regular increases in government programs and spending, along with scandals involving congressional Republicans playing the D.C. game and getting tax breaks and special favors for Wall Street and multi-national corporations, Republicans lost their right to govern, and in 2006 Democrats took control of Congress.

And it is clear as day now they do not favor getting government under control. They opposed taking any meaningful steps to stop Obamacare before it goes into effect. They oppose getting spending under control. They like quantitative easing that over time will destroy the dollar. They want corporate welfare subsidies and anti-competitive regulations that help them stay on top.

With this recent history, we now are learning that WalMart, Google and a multitude of other major corporations have been funding the far left Center for American Progress’ campaign to destroy the free market system.

This should forever end the myth that corporations are a legitimate part of the economic freedom leg of the stool.  They are nothing more or less than funders who pursue their own interests outside of ideology and there is nothing wrong with that.

When contrasted with labor unions which are “all in” supporting the Democrat agenda, even when it hurts their own members’ interests (see the left’s war on coal and the impact on mine workers and the United Mine Workers union as an example), one wonders why Republicans bother defending big business interests at all.

Yet it is this professional big business class that seeks through hired guns to declare war on the legitimate economic freedom, God and guns legs of the Republican stool.

The corporate “Republican” class has come out of the closet, no longer content with attending all the parties and dominating the back rooms of D.C.  They are now determined to permanently shatter the economic freedom leg of the stool by silencing those who actually believe in limited government and a free, competitive marketplace.

They somehow believe that with enough money they can trick voters in the other two legs of the stool to continue supporting them, while getting economic freedom voters because there is no other available choice.

Not fearing any political backlash if they fail, reasoning that those who don’t believe in using government as a tool to punish your enemies and help your friends will still vote their limited government principles.

But they forget that a Republican winning coalition depends upon getting the other two legs of the stool on board as well, and those voters really don’t like the corporate crony Republican and their funders who spend money attacking their core concerns.

It is somewhat ironic that the “funding” corporations and their lackeys are inciting and funding a civil war against the base of the Party that they depend upon to provide the votes to hold power.

The real question is whether a group that funds the opposition and only really spends a little more than half of their contributions on the Republican side of the aisle should even have a seat at the Republican Party table?

In the end, Republicans just might discover that they are better off shedding the Party of the Rich label by throwing these corporate welfare, government leeches to the curb altogether leaving them to commune with those on the left who hate them.

Perhaps then, everyone would be happy.

Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is the vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited government.

  • Duke1CA

    I agree completely. De facto socialistic “crony capitalism” is just as evil when done by Republicans as Democrats. Ultimately, the only two options in Politics are political and economic freedom, with limited government regulation to stop excesses and insure a truly free-market and free society, as well as to defend against foreign threats. Or complete government control, whether direct (like the Soviet Union) or through a government-controlled business world (like Nazi Germany). Our founders set us up as the former, but today we are swiftly moving toward the latter. Only a massive change of hearts and minds, which only God can bring about, can change this. This is what I pray for, although I know that I and all of God’s children will ultimately be OK regardless or whether or not this happens.

  • jwatersphd

    Bear in the woods didn’t help Reagan. He died in June, 2004.

  • MitchBaxter

    Rick, this is exactly what I’ve been saying, and I’ve been taking flak from conservatives and libertarians who refuse to see that big business today is essentially anti-capitalist, teaming up with government to impose regulations that exclude competitors and start-ups. Rand warned about big-business cronyism over 50 years ago, and the corporations have been playing free-market advocates for fools and suckers for a long time.

    The Bear in the Woods was 1984, not 2004. I renew my offer to accept an editorial position at ALG.

  • jwatersphd

    Rick, this is simply incoherent. It ought to be obvious that if you limit the ability of The People to regulate business, that is, if you cut back on, or weaken government and regulations, you’re going to get excesses and abuses. A great example are the monopolies you or someone else recently lauded in going on about how moral capitalism is – set up a monopoly, make a bundle, and start a university somewhere – that’s your idea of morality. The only thing we have as a counterweight to big business is the government. Yes, the government often fails badly. And, as you point out, it often colludes with big business; we call that corruption. Here’s an example: Corporations are people. What crap. You have enterprises like General Motors, 3M, and even Amazon or Microsoft … they are going to do what they damn well please if there are no rules and no one to enforce them. In the past, they hired their own police forces and ran entire towns. Your idea seems to be that you’re going to have a party that wants to govern that’s going to ignore big business, and just stop all the rules and regulations so your local grocery store owner can live out the American Dream. Guess what – Walmart’s already got that action. What are you thinking? Our freedom is manifest in our taking the time, thought and energy to GOVERN, not to put our heads in the sand singing about patriotism and “freedom.” Ain’t no freedom without laws and laws aren’t any good with no one to enforce them.

  • jwatersphd

    Many of your points are excellent. I’m amazed how long it’s taken for it to become obvious that Big Business is not looking out for any freedom except their freedom to make money. Yes, fools and suckers. However – who is going to stand up to them? Not a bunch of patriots in three corner hats or people praying. I think it is an error, however, to confuse this issue with “capitalism.” All capitalism requires is that there be an economic reward for having capital – you have to pay for capital as well as for labor. Marx said you don’t. Capitalism is not necessarily free or fair. The appropriate opposite of Big Business is not Capitalism, but government of the people. What else have you got?

  • pduffy

    J, you said, ” if you cut back on, or weaken government and regulations, you’re going to get excesses and abuses.”

    You are assuming that the people in government are of a morally superior set that can ‘regulate’ those that are in business and that they will never put out their hands to take a bribe. This is why the greedy capitalists are so good at bribing politicians, they have a way to make sure they are never regulated. Please do tell J., who has the moral authority to ‘regulate’ another human being? Those that get the most votes at a ballot box, or those that run businesses successfully? If you can identify this group of people, I will agree with your statement.

  • MitchBaxter

    Capitalism is more than merely giving rewards for having capital; capitalism is a system of free markets without government restrictions or preferences, where free choice reigns. Competitors are free to try to crush each other, but have to do so using market forces, not by teaming up with government. When business is incorporated into government, it becomes fascism, not capitalism.
    The problem is that big business has its fingers in the cookie jar of an all-encompassing government, just as big labor does. Take away the ability of government to dispense favors, goodies, and preferences, and big business reverts to being merely one player in a capitalist free market.

  • pduffy

    Big business in bed with politicians is called ‘fascism’. It was the model of Adolph Hitler, and Chairman Mao.

  • pduffy

    Which people?

  • MitchBaxter

    I’m not sure you actually read the piece. Rick said Republicans should kick big business out of the Republican party, yet you’re arguing with him as though he’s an advocate for big business. You’ve basically shifted the discussion to what you want to talk about, rather than what the essay is about.

  • jwatersphd

    Big Business doesn’t belong in either party. Business itself doesn’t, either. If you argue that Business is going to yield to anything except effective government, you’re profoundly mistaken. Business, big or small, is there to make money, not to improve society. It’s not patriotic or religious, either. You think they don’t sell to non-Christians, or get things done in another country, or by “illegal” immigrants, if it’s cheaper, no matter how “Big” they are? Your local gas station used to dump their oil out back when they could – it was cheaper. What I am arguing about is his idea that the solution is limited and weak government, or that somehow patriotism and religion are natural counterparts to Business in a party. You argue for less government, all you do is give freer reign to Business. Cut back the Mine Safety Administration, you get cheaper but worse practices. I know small farmers, and housewives, who love illegal immigrants. Size is not the issue, except that if a business is big, you’d better have a sturdy government to stand up to it. Pray and talk about “my country” — General Electric couldn’t care less. Yes, they’re playing you for fools, but limited government is exactly what they want, and that’s how they’re playing you right now.

  • jwatersphd

    I don’t think history bears you out. Markets do not remain “free” on their own. Monopolies are a good example. Roosevelt had to take them on because they were out of control. A market can only be free if it’s also fair. Business A dumps their waste in the stream, Business B pays to dispose of it safely. Business B goes out of business. Business principles are not self-enforcing.Yes, one of the ways a business might seek advantage is by getting the government on its side, but that’s what we have to fight, not the basic idea that there has to be a system of laws and regulations and the courts to enforce them in order to have any free markets at all. The Mafia was a business, too. They were not controlled (to the extent they have been) by “free markets.” You run a “protection” scheme like they do, that’s business, pure and simple. All it depends on is “No government.” Your mistake is in identifying government restrictions with government preferences. You say “no one can dump their waste in the stream,” it makes it more fair, not less. You say, “You can’t threaten another business with death or fire bombs,” that’s not preference or favoritism, it’s government.

  • jwatersphd

    I do not think a successful businessman has the moral authority to regulate me. Nor do I think the fact that someone runs a business successfully gives them any moral superiority, or the right to do whatever he or she pleases. As I recall, P, you think we’re all degenerate and can never regulate ourselves, only God will do that. Suit yourself. In the meantime, if you can’t tell a good law from a bad one, I can’t help you. If you don’t think governments vary in their quality, I can’t help you either. I think our job is to try to get the best government we can, one that pays attention to fairness and the greater good of The People, and has the power to enforce it. And I suspect you think that’s idiotic, but that’s what I’m for.

  • jwatersphd

    And Rockefeller and JP Morgan and on and on.

  • jwatersphd

    You and me, P. Oh, and Mark and Mitch. And Rick. We’re trying.

  • jwatersphd

    I think you’re going to be waiting a long time. General Electric is never going to care about fairness, and they don’t give a crap about your prayers. I hope your faith is enough for you. If you get into a dispute with Bank of America, prayers and God are going to get you squat. You need sensible rules passed by the government, and courts to sue them in, and, guess what, a lawyer to help you (a trial lawyer), and enough governmental power to enforce the decision if you win (which people actually do). There’s nothing wrong with prayers, of course, they’re just actually irrelevant to the problem. We’ve had corrupt governments and profit hungry businesses for millenia and I don’t see any sign that God is paying any attention, though I hope he does.

  • pduffy

    I’ll give you credit for this – I know that in myself I cannot discern “a good law from a bad one” made by man, but I will defer to ten simple rules, which includes, “Thou shalt not steal; …thou shalt not murder; thou shalt not commit adultery, etc…”, beyond those simple rules, I don’t have a clue, but neither does Obama or Bush or any other politician that thinks that their OPINIONS should be made into laws, especially laws that confiscate my time and income to fulfill some politician or his constituents desires, like redistributing ‘health care’. So when we can’t agree on such ‘laws’ let’s agree on to separate. You can have Mr. Obama as your lawmaker, and I will have God. Your problem J. is that you need more than those simple little rules, so you turn to men and they impose tyranny. It does not matter if they are communists or capitalists, they all want something, so why trust in man?

  • jwatersphd

    I’ve got lots of friends, people I love, and business associates. And lawmakers I can trust. Frankly, I’ve never seen or heard God, nor does the world make any sense as his product, so I’ve no reason to pay attention to that idea; never have in almost 70 years, and it’s made no difference. Not steal, not murder, fine. I don’t need God to know that’s right. Also, don’t crap on my lawn, I won’t play my stereo outside your window all night, and I won’t tolerate someone making laws that you shouldn’t pray, or believe in God. Those are good laws, or decisions about laws. Not so difficult. Be well, P.

  • Duke1CA

    You missed where I stated that some government is needed to protect against extreme cases (but it cannot possibly solve all disputes).

  • jwatersphd

    No, I saw that. I think you seriously underestimate the extent of the problem. Check the history of monopolies, food safety (Upton Sinclair, The Jungle), auto safety (Toyota just the most recent), housing bubble, credit card gouging.It is an ongoing, big problem and enmeshment with govt is only a small part of it. Businesses are not there to be nice, to look out for us, or anything but profit/survival.If you think this is minor, i think you’re missing something.

  • pduffy

    I am sure we can agree on certain points of man’s law, such as ordinances to regulate automobile traffic (stop lights and such and other human behavior), that are not mentioned in the law of God, and we agree that stealing is wrong, but would that also include government theft? Would you agree that traffic laws should apply to all men, regardless of their income or status? My main problem with man-made laws is not the obvious ordinances that you speak of, but the ‘laws’ designed to equalize the society, in wealth and income, education, etc… or laws that engage the government in ‘charitable’ activities that should be left to matters of the heart. For example, health care, and the equitable distribution of that limited resource is not a function of government in my opinion. Neither is distributing food to the poor. These are functions of charity and should be left to churches and local communities to handle as they see fit, not a centralized all-powerful taxing force that has taken over this role in our lives. Additionally, I believe that if a government is going to tax a society to further some end, it must do so to all the people, and not ‘exempt’ any class or group from that law. The American founders also believed in this principle and added the equal protection clause to the constitution to prevent such unequal taxation, but this ‘protection’ has been removed by the progressive movement in America (i.e. the 16th amendment), which seemingly gave the government the power to tax unequally. Although not the word of God, the ‘equal protection’ clause is a statement that government must treat all men the same in regards to the law, Do we agree on this point? If you tax me at 40%, you must tax my neighbor at 40%, regardless of the level of income, and EVERYBODY is included, even the politicians that wrote the law! To remove my neighbor’s burden effectively removes the equal protection, and it creates a ‘taxation without representation’ problem, because my neighbor has no incentive to vote out the politicians that have removed his burden, but does just the opposite and gives him an incentive to keep voting for for his own benefit. This breakdown of the equal application of the law breeds corruption, and that’s precisely what our nations has degenerated into after 100 years of the progressive movement. Half the citizens of this nation do not pay income taxes, and the other half carries all of the burden, not just for the government expenses, but their LIVING expenses too, where the working man is taxed to pay for the poor’s food, housing, education, health care, and now even cell phones! This is a great evil in my opinion. So now if we agree that laws against stealing are ‘good laws’, and we both can agree on that point, then we can also agree that Obama-care is a bad law?

    Be well to you to J.

  • fletch19609

    Wal-Mart too? Dam!

  • Michaellaborde

    These so called capitalist have been in bed with democrats even though the democrats claim that the so called capitalist are in bed with republicans. The facts are that Wall Street gave more money to democrats in the last 3 election cycles. Many have been fooled by democrats, you know, the most corrupt bunch ever on capital hill.

  • Michaellaborde

    Yep, and Obama has enabled it a hundred fold.

  • Michaellaborde

    FDR had socialist leanings , even trying to pack the courts to push it.

  • jwatersphd

    Thanks, P. You raise a number of excellent points. “Equal protection” is a good starting point. If we can agree that this implies a general notion of “fairness,” it’s a base for discussion, but, obviously, it’s where differences come in, and the notion of a social contract – part of which is arriving at a government of laws – implies there will be negotiation rather than absolutes. So your point about unequal taxation being “unfair” is an excellent one. However, I won’t get into it here, because I want to add something IMPORTANT that often gets missed: The Preamble to the Constitution declares that the intent in establishing it includes, among other things, to “promote the general Welfare…” In my opinion, health (like education) is clearly an element of the general welfare of the nation. That is, I think it benefits us all, well beyond the recipient (individual patient). Thus, first, to argue that people “should” have health care is not outrageous, and it is easily reconciled with The Founders’ intentions. How not? Second, given that, I disagree with you that “equitable distribution” of health care is not an appropriate government function. It clearly seems so, to me. Now: I am strongly opposed to two elements of Obamacare, namely, the enmeshment with the private, for-profit health insurance industry, including the mandate to purchase, and the continued linking of health care to one’s employment. So, yes, it’s a “bad law” in major ways. However, I strongly support the intent of the law, which is to make health care available to all, and believe it to be consistent with The Founders’ ideas and The Constitution itself. I think the Supreme Court found correctly, and that instead of all the garbage about “insurance” and the irrelevancy of employment, we should go directly to providing it through a tax (which is how they argued it was constitutional) and skip all the bureaucracy.

    Thanks for writing.

    Be well, P.

  • jwatersphd

    A little more elaboration: We don’t need it to solve “all disputes” but I don’t really think “some government” quite captures what it takes to deal with things like the BP Oil Spill in The Gulf, or Exxon Valdez, or the Microsoft anti-trust case. These are complex, contentious matters that have major effects on a lot of people. In fact, we are ALL affected. I do NOT want my interests represented by some bush-league crew who come in occasionally. Certainly not when Business (not just Big Business) employs buildings full of attorneys who are well paid to advance THEIR interests against OURS. We need strong representation by people who are well reimbursed and secure, not a bunch of volunteers, or “government employees” who are vilified and degraded. Whose side are we really on?

  • MitchBaxter

    Your points don’t have much to do with what Rick wrote, or what I wrote. You’re spoiling for a fight with anarcho-capitalists, but since I’m not one, you’re assuming that I am, and arguing against things I didn’t even say. I talked about markets based on free choice, not force or compulsion.

  • jwatersphd

    Well, I’m talking about Theodore Roosevelt, but is your thinking so global that if someone has “socialist leanings” he or she cannot take any worthwhile actions or stances? If it had been FDR who tried to solve the problem of monopolies, it would still be a good idea even if one judges him negatively overall (which I don’t). TR was a Republican, when it was a VERY different party than it is now. He scandalously started our National Parks, for instance. So, you can be (or could have been) a Republican and still be interested in “the general welfare” that was part of the intent of the Founders in putting forth The Constitution. (Check The Preamble.) Every impulse to join cause for our mutual benefit is not “socialism.”

  • jwatersphd

    I said markets based on free choice have a lot of requirements. They exist in a context. As far as I can see, that’s a social context and an important part of it is/are the laws, regulations, and enforcement mechanisms of government. That seems to me to be directly responsive to what you wrote. Give me an example of a market based on free choice, that has national significance, that does not require a context in which government is important. The purest one I can think of is the NY Stock Exchange, and that’s heavily regulated, though regulation does not favor any particular choices. Maybe I have no idea what you are talking about.

  • kingofbytes

    What the Left likes to call “capitalism” – and then denigrate – is really crony capitalism.

    They never admit that though – they like to straw man “big business”, “big oil”, etc – but ultimately, that is crony capitalism.

    If you want proof that the left wants this, look no further than regulations – the ones always calling for more and more regulations are actually the ones making crony capitalism possible – all the while claiming they’re not. It’s classic projection from the Left.

  • Jo

    Mitch is using common sense and you are too embroiled in your text book theories, etc and going off on tangents

  • jwatersphd

    Yeah, sure – this all started in 2008. Where have you been?

  • jwatersphd

    I think Mitch’s common sense is oversimplification. How cares if something is from a text book or not? In any case, my ideas are not. They are just common sense. You can’t have free markets in a vacuum. If you want to contribute to the discussion, make a valid point rather than cheerleading.

  • Henry L

    Big business can only be anti-capitalistic if government takes sides. If government (and unions, and lawyers) would just get out of the way we would have the best capitalist system in the world. Let the fittest survive; if you are not fit you should not try to compete.

  • Henry L

    I agree wholeheartedly. As soon as business, big or small, is interfered with by those who have no skin in the game you can no longer talk about capitalism. Not to forget is that all government and union interference undermine innovation and inventions. Thomas Edison would have a very difficult time in the present atmosphere.

  • Henry L

    You support the intent of Obama care because it makes healthcare available to all. The problem is, “all” can not afford the inferior product government set down on 2000 + pages. This country built the best healthcare system in the world until lawyers discovered a cash cow, and self-described moral busy-bodies started interfering. I also would like to know how you skip bureaucracy once the government has its tentacles on a vast business.

  • Henry L

    Sensible rules passed by the government can only happen under the auspices of a sensible government. When did we last have a sensible government?

  • Henry L

    Do you really think that government, no matter how big, can prevent an oil spill or a drunken boat captain? Businesses that have these kinds of disasters will have to prevent repeating these setbacks out of pure self-interest. All government can do is grandstanding in front of the masses.

  • jwatersphd

    Every study done indicates we pay a lot more than other comparable countries to achieve less overall health benefit – pick and outcome – and have done so for decades, so the claim we had the best “system” is hard to justify. Yes, we have had certain advances not available elsewhere, for the few or special cases, but not a “system.” Medicare was started in the 1960s and is a much more efficient system than the private insurance system. It’s not perfect but it’s pretty good. There’s a bureaucracy for you. And the bureaucracy in the private health insurance system is amazing, but mainly dedicated to making a profit off of investing the premiums and paying as little as possible for care. Government tentacles, to judge from Medicare, would be a lot better; no incentive to profit, only to maximize care. Lawyers have very little to do with it; big business is a large part of it. The right wing is always blaming people like that for the problems that inevitably come when you make health care part of a large, entrepreneurial system. What you get is a lot of specialist care, striking excellence in profitable endeavors, but no system to speak of, and inferior outcomes for the broad populace. I’ve already said why I think Obamacare is a bad law, and I still think the intent would be satisfied much better with a Medicare for all model.

  • jwatersphd

    What’s wrong with being against crony big capitalism? Regulations often undermine crony capitalism – against price fixing, monopolies, scams and deceptive practices, dangerous/unsafe products. Probably there are also a lot of corrupt set-ups as well, have been ever since there have been big businesses, like Rockefeller, Morgan, etc. They buddied up with government and got regulations to suit them. We need to fight against that, not ignore it. The only way you can fight it is to support reform in government – consumer protection, food safety and so on. Your demonizing of the left is of little merit. The real problem is where there is a crooked relationship with business, and there has been an element of that ever since civilization began, left, right, center. Big business and crony capitalism love your attacks on regulation. They’re strong and big enough to do what they want, and government is the only thing to stop them, so this “small government” idea is just what they love. Sure they want strong enforcement of laws that benefit them. What they fear are people like Teddy Roosevelt and Elizabeth Warren who will honestly stand up to them, not ostrich-types who like to look the other way. Want a better government? Work on it.

  • jwatersphd

    I hope you really don’t think they’ve never been in bed with Republicans. And I hope you don’t think there has not been corruption in the Republican party. What’s going on currently is hardly “the most corrupt” in our history.

  • jwatersphd

    That’s not true. It is not an all-or-nothing proposition. It was not sensible, according to a lot of the people most involved, even in 1789. There were bitter accusations between Federalists (Washington, Madison) and democratic (Jefferson) types, just like today. The Federalists thought Jefferson was an anarchist and a traitor, and Jefferson thought the others were tyrants. But some good things have been done and some not so good since then. If you want perfection, take up painting or car repair or something. It’s an ongoing fight, and abandoning it is … just giving up. There is really no solution except sensible rules, so we have to work for that, not deny it can happen. The idea that cutting back government is going to make it better, in terms of making commerce more fair and better, is silly. You’re just turning it over to the worst and letting them have free reign.

  • jwatersphd

    Cut the personal attacks. Your’e just being petty.

    Yes, government has lessened the odds of oil spills and intoxicated captains, and airplane pilots. It does not always work. It’s the business of big business to find ways to pass on the costs of disasters to someone else or minimize them. Yes, they have some self-interest, but check out BP’s oil spill. If they could have avoided government action resulting from it, it would have been a pittance, compared to their profits, to lose that platform, even if they paid a million bucks for each person killed on the rig. Now they’re saddled with the real costs of cleaning it up. They wouldn’t do that on their own. Mine safety – yes, they have to drill another hole. It’s the cost of business. Check out the auto safety battles – they didn’t give a crap that people got killed in cars without seat belts or ones that were not crash-worthy. It didn’t hurt their bottom line. Businesses do NOT act in the public interest. They act to make a profit. No, government cannot do everything, but business self interest does not do everything, either.

  • Henry L

    You are not convincing me. There are two axioms that I firmly believe in:
    1) Business is the most efficient way to get the best product at the most reasonable price because of competition,
    2) Government is the most inefficient and wasteful way to get any product at any price, because of bureaucracy’s inherent tendency to grow like a malignant cancer. I would have rather lived under Robber Barons than under big Government because the Robber Barons would have left me alone.

  • jwatersphd

    Suit yourself.

  • Henry L

    Your manner of writing suggests that you are an educated person. Someone once said that “It is a thousand time better to have common sense without an education than to have an education without common sense”. I am not trying to denigrate you because I have respect for educated people as I am one myself (seven years European intern colleges), but you may want to think about what “someone” said.

  • jwatersphd

    Thank goodness, it’s not “either .. or.”

    What are “European intern colleges?” Not familiar with the term.

    I hope neither the modern robber barons (yes, we still have them) nor your various governments bite you.

  • jwatersphd

    Just to help you be careful (or maybe joyous), the Robber Barons were, at the time, thoroughly integrated into the government, and are still with us. So, for instance, the end-of-Bush economic catastrophe, which had significant basis in the housing market collapse (2006-2007), is similar to what happened back in those days (check out Teapot Dome) – the effects were in, and on Big Business and then on the rest of us, catastrophically – even though we don’t have names for a lot of individuals. They were in bed with corrupt government. We do, however, have Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, etc. whose controllers (CEOs and boards of directors) escaped the damage they caused thus casting doubt on your “market” theory that says business will not do anything that causes problems because they will suffer in the end. Perhaps you are independently wealthy and did not have any problems due to this, and are not affected by what happened to many ordinary folks, who lost their homes, retirements, and half of their net worth. Perhaps you love Microsoft, which has had to have heavy government intervention not to become a more significant monopolist bully. But if you are happy to live with Robber Barons, you didn’t miss your chance. Cozy up to Citibank and BP. Good to hear they leave you alone, but you’re a rare case. You want to de-regulate and let them continue their ways, including taking over the government, which will be easier the more we denigrate and disempower it? As I said, suit yourself, but we’re parting company here. Hope you don’t need credit cards or banks . . . you think their practices are sketchy now? Let’s turn ‘em loose and see what we get. Just a word to the wise, a little focus to your “common sense,” and a reminder – things are not always what they seem. Have fun with your playmates, and, as we say, love capitalism and hate Wall Street. Now, of course, this is all just ivory-tower lunacy, and Visa and Mastercard are our good buddies – so I imagine it’s easy to ignore. It’s just common sense, Merck (remember Vioxx?) is always looking out for our best interests, honest, ready to take responsibility – oh, how about those Toyotas and their automatic acceleration? We sure don’t need no stinkin’ guv’mint, do we, with all these corporate good citizens? They are people, right? With feelings, conscience . . . . So, go ahead, usher us into the new era of smaller, weakened government, and more unbridled Robber Barons and rejoice!

  • Henry L

    You seem to have problems separating government from business. My vision is an adequately educated populace that elects a government that sticks to its job and keeps its nose out of business. I am sure that the days of yore’s Robber Barons were influencing our government, but smart people would not elect such “leaders”. I do hope that you can agree with me on one thing: with this omnipresent, omnipotent and auto-deluded omniscient government of today things are a lot worse. The more those in power attempt to decrease the income disparity the more it will grow. LBJ anyone?

  • Henry L

    The way to regulate business is not government; its customer base will regulate it through competition.

  • Henry L

    “Intern colleges” are places of higher learning where the more affluent would send their sons and daughters for education. These establishments are devoted to learning from dawn to dusk; no parties, no smoking cigarettes, just acquire knowledge on a wide variety of the arts, including four languages, tout le temps. One week vacation for Christmas and Easter, and one month in August. Then back to the grind.

  • jwatersphd

    I don’t have a problem conceptually separating the two. Business is to provide goods and services and make money. Business is not even about jobs. There’s a constant push to eliminate labor and automatize and technologize to avoid creating jobs. It’s more profitable. Government is to provide laws to prevent crime, make life predictable where it needs to be (traffic laws, financial transactions) and intervene in blatantly exploitative conduct, or that which is harmful to society (pollution) and to do things private citizens cannot do – in some cases, because there is no money in it. In other cases, because we don’t want, for instance, a private army or private police force. The government is NOT a business. The two are clearly distinct and distinguishable.

    Maybe you are speaking using some abstractions I don’t follow, but The People elected the leaders in the days of the Robber Barons and do so now. Perhaps you have the Tea Party ambivalence towards The People, which is that when they vote for or elect people you don’t approve of, they suddenly become “The Sheeple.” But in reality – practically speaking, not ivory tower idealization – we only have The People, so your Vision is impractical. It’s not common sense.

    If business always operated towards the “general welfare,” which is one of the things the Constitution was meant to insure (see the Preamble), of course government would keep its nose out. But it doesn’t. Nor is it meant to. Especially in corporate situations, where the investor (such as myself) is really only looking for a good investment in terms of return on the dollar, I will not approve the Board and CEO doing things that do not maximize that, and most stockholders feel similarly. No one made safe cars in the 1960s because they would cost more. Eventually safety was mandated by the government, and they were all in the same boat – there was no market disadvantage to, for instance, seat belts, to any given mfr. So, now, cars are much safer and people expect it. That was not capitalism or a free market. If all you want is profit, regardless of the social cost, which business cannot take into account, then your “smart” people can certainly not interfere with business. But the country is not just about profit, goods and services. And “the general welfare” is not going to be promoted SOLELY by goods, services and profits.

    I really can’t say that things are a lot worse, because it depends what you are talking about. And, as well, worse than when? We have safer cars, safer food and drugs, the environment is MUCH better than 50 years ago, we have Social Security and Medicare so old people are not impoverished. Gays don’t have to lie to serve in the military. The populace, as a whole, is better educated and healthier, though not in all ways. We also have the NSA, terrorism (home grown and foreign), and a sputtering economy which is growing but not creating jobs (as I said). We have a health care law that rewards the private, for profit insurance industry. It’s hard to find real wilderness of the kind we had 50 years ago. All in all, I think it’s debatable whether it’s better or worse.

    Government is certainly not omnipotent, as you have yourself pointed out before, and it’s certainly not omniscient. But it certainly provides things we need that are not included in goods, services, and profit, or even jobs. And I’m glad it does. The country is more than buyers, sellers, and employees.

  • jwatersphd

    Yes, competition is a good thing, but your overall argument is naive, as I’ve said elsewhere. All it’s going to “regulate” is the best product at the best price. That’s a good thing, but it’s not the only thing.

  • jwatersphd

    Sounds like the college I went to.

  • Henry L

    If you went to the same kind of college(s) I went to you should realize that in business that IS the only thing. And so, I will repay your compliment with the statement: YOU are naïve.

  • Henry L

    Your synopsis is so full of inaccuracies and contradictions that I do not know where to start. Inasmuch as you obviously have more time on your hand than I have, I propose to drop the whole thing right here and now.
    Have a merry Christmas, if is OK with our government to say so.

  • Henry L

    Where in Europe? They do not exist in the US.

  • jwatersphd

    of course they do. i’ll match reed, swartmore, amhest,oberlin, haverford, st john’s vs anyplace.

  • jwatersphd

    what’s one contrdiction?

  • Henry L

    I understand they have some big football players and sumptuous pom-pom girls.

  • jwatersphd

    Yes, #1-rated party schools, all. Still awaiting your identifying my contradictions and inaccuracies – or even one. Hope you finally noticed all the places I say what business is about – best product/service at best price, and profit.

  • Henry L

    Guess you did not understand my sarcastic remark. We went to college and university to learn, not to get all sexed up.

  • jwatersphd

    No, I got it. I was going along with it.

    Are you a native English speaker?

    Students in those schools are assiduous scholars. However they are not Essene. One does not go there to “get all sexed up” or to party, but one is ordinarily at an age where sexualized relationships are normative, developmentally, so they occur. And a few-hours party on Saturday night would not be frowned upon. It’s not monastic or ascetic, but everyone knows what they are there for – to learn and develop their capacity to think. Actually, the content – books and lectures – are not remarkably different from at schools like Harvard, where people are there for various reasons – but the “demand characteristics” posed by one’s colleagues is quite different. I visited Harvard and found lots of people who were not scholarly.

  • Henry L

    I really don’t have the time but let me touch on a few things.
    Business is ALL about jobs; how do things get done if not by people?
    When a business automates it creates new jobs. Those who lose their job need to get an education so they can better themselves; this is called progress as opposed to liberal progressivism.
    Government is not a business. Then why does it involve itself with GM, and the healthcare industry?
    Government can not make laws to prevent crime. It WILL increase crime by declaring certain behavior criminal.
    Ambivalence in the Tea Party? The Tea Party is straight as an arrow.
    Where in the Preamble does it say anything about business needing to provide for the general welfare? What’s more, business DOES provide for the general welfare by creating jobs, baking bread, building cars,…do I need to go on?
    The politicians are the ones who need to intervene in their own “blatantly exploitive behavior” by taxing goods and services. Did you know they make more on a gallon of gas than the “Oil Barons”?
    As long as you keep ignoring the facts you will never come to a logical outcome.
    My vision makes perfect common sense but impractical because government made it impossible
    I really must go now.

  • Henry L

    No, English is just one of my “later learned” languages.
    What I was trying to convey is that the four schools (after “high school”) I went to do not get involved in inter-collegiate sports. We did most of the sports as part of the education and to create a “healthy body and mind”. Sexuality is placed on a back burner (of a very large stove). There sure as hell is no spitting, scratching, “look at me” attitude and stupid hero worship. Everybody is hell-bent on being the smartest which is obviously not possible.

  • jwatersphd

    Maybe I’m beginning to understand why we are talking past each other. Government is not a business, but it involves itself in what businesses do. It’s not a person, either, but it regulates the conduct of people, and it does of businesses, too. I hope you are not contending that business does not DO things, take actions that have consequences, and needs NO regulation? If you don’t agree that the regulation of activities, of people and businesses alike, is a proper role of government, we can’t proceed. What is government for, if not that? Are you suggesting that the success of a business always means favorable effects? Being a drug dealer can be very successful, as can making cigarettes, as can engaging in all kinds of fraud and ‘con’ games. One can also make “the best product at the lowest cost” at great expense to the country in general. Like things made of asbestos. Like dumping waste in the river. Like cars without seat belts. Like unhealthy but tasty foods. Nothing about business success insures that the business’s activities are tolerable. This seems incredibly simple.

    You are confusing incidental properties with necessary ones, or incidental effects with intended effects. The necessary, intrinsic, and intended effect of a business is to make a product or provide a service that someone will pay for. It requires, at times, some participation by someone, but the amount of that is infinitely variable. It’s possible to set up a web site that conducts amazing amounts of commerce with only occasional attention by a real person.

    When businesses cuts jobs by automation, it’s possible for those who lost the jobs to do something else, but it’s not necessary. We have unemployment. And it is certainly NOT the intended effect of the business. And the something else they do may not be to get an education and better themselves. It’s not happening, now – the jobs coming back are worse than the ones that were lost.

    Government can not make laws to prevent crime? Is embezzlement only a crime because government declared it illegal? Same with robbery? These were crimes created by government? How about check forgery? It’s OK if we don’t declare it a crime?

    The preamble doesn’t say business has to promote for the general welfare. It says the Constitution, and the laws in it and based on it, have that as part of their rationale. And it is no mis-reading of the Constitution to say that the effects of business on the general welfare are within the purview of government.

    Your vision of a country full of “smart people” is nice, but it’s impractical because it’s not going to happen. And the Tea Party is ambivalent, like you, in pointing to the endorsement of ideas by “the grassroots” – presumably people who are just ordinary folks, not leaders – as evidence of their wisdom, if they agree with the Tea Party, but not if they don’t. Or was it really “The People” who elected Obama by a huge electoral margin? If so, why the immediate attempt to take him down and villainize him – from the start? In this forum, that’s when they are “the sheeple.” It’s also hypocritical when it prates about “the deficit” or “the national debt.” If that’s the problem, you can raise taxes or cut government. The real priority is “cut government,” which, for reasons I’ve already outlined repeatedly, does some things we need, and is not ALWAYS the problem. Again, if you can’t agree that we need government – good government that regulates behavior of people, businesses, and corporations – so as to further “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness” – as set forth in the constitution, we really have no basis for talking. You’re either lost in fantasy or an anarchist. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness do not happen in a vaccuum, and are not insured by the profit motive and competition, though those factors help.

  • jwatersphd

    Where I went, everyone was used to being the smartest (where they came from), so they didn’t worry about it, and were hell-bent on getting better and helping others to do so as well. Highly collegial and supportive. Sports and sex happened if you had time.

  • Henry L

    Well, let me try this one more time: when you guys were hollering at a football game and having sex, WE were hitting the books.

  • jwatersphd

    I’ve tried to tell you, suit yourself. We didn’t have football games but I don’t think sex hurt anyone’s intellectual development. Reminds me of all kinds of other bizarre religious and other abnormal strictures that were supposed to be “good” for you. And as I’ve tried to tell you, we don’t give up anything on the intellectual front to anyone . . .

  • Henry L

    Let’s just agree to disagree.

  • jwatersphd

    sounds good to me -

  • Henry L

    We are indeed talking past one another. There is a vast ocean between your and my thinking. I like to touch on a few things. In a previous blog you wrote that business is not about jobs. Now you write that “if a business eliminates jobs, etc.”. That is contradictory. Furthermore, I totally do not believe in “welfare” by government. We need to take care of those in need, right, but that should be the purview of family, friends, neighbors, churches, organizations. It does NOT mean that government needs to tax the poor guy who is working hard, trying to take care of his family, in order to build massive buildings, stuffing them with legions of bureaucrats MAKING MORE MONEY THAN THOSE WHO GET TAXED and then keep the unemployed in servitude. LBJ spoke the truth when he said (after signing his oxymoronic “Great Society” legislation): “I’ll have dem (N-word) voting democrat for the next 30 years”. THAT is being honest.
    Business needs no regulation unless it pertains to the general welfare; of which dumping waste would be one example.
    Government has no business to mandate seat belts; if I want a little cheaper car without one I should have that prerogative; advising it is a different matter. Do not forget that in a sense it is counter productive because young guys but on their seatbelts thinking nothing can happen to them. Now they demand airbags which need a warning: “this thing might kill you!!”. Gimmeabreak.
    What we need better traffic EDUCATION.
    You seem to think that Obama got elected with a large margin. That margin was pure corruption.
    My vision of smart people is not, as you suggest, impractical; all it takes a better EDUCATION system, which the unions do not want.
    Au revoir et bonne annee!

  • Henry L

    Monopolies can not survive in a free market system. It can only survive if it gets “protection” from somewhere. If somebody comes up with a better product the “monopoly” will fall by the wayside. If nobody can come up with a better product, that is not the monopolist’s fault. People will have to try harder. EDUCATION will make that happen. The only monopoly in existence is GOVERNMENT. And that is NOT FAIR.

  • Henry L

    “Every study done”. All studies are suspect. They would at least be honest if they would end with “Q. E. D.” (quod erat demonstrandum).

  • Henry L

    …………..you obviously did. I have had to deal with many “intellectuals” in this country.

  • jwatersphd

    Maybe it’s a language problem. I could be more precise and less idiomatic. I meant that the core, essential, intrinsic purpose of business is not to create jobs. As a human enterprise, of course it requires at least one person, some of the time. That is very different from the idea that its core, essential or intrinsic purpose is to create jobs. I do not see a contradiction between that and the idea businesses sometimes lay people off. A business can have NO employees and still be a business.

    The Welfare Clause of the Constitution does, indeed, put any and all activities, of people, corporations, businesses, and other governments within the purview of the Federal Government. And the Preamble indicates that was part of the intent, so it’s not surprising or an accident. Yes, you “could” consider any Federal actions “part and parcel” thereof, but, in reality, the nature of the Federal Government’s activities and its scope gets litigated all the time. That’s what we expect, given that it’s obviously vague and broad. The Constitution mainly lays out broad ideas and working out the specifics is what we have done for over 200 years. I was not talking about “welfare” in the sense you are, of payments to the needy. What it means in the Constitution is something more like well-being.

    Given that, safety standards are widely accepted as within the purview of the government. Whether you value product safety or not, and caveat emptor notwithstanding, the people as a whole are quite happy that a business cannot knowingly sell toasters that electrocute you even if used properly. That’s an extreme example, but there are less obvious and extreme dangers, like from lead in paint and gasoline, which the individual could hardly notice, but which the State, appropriately, can protect us from. And people mostly are happy with safer cars. People like a modicum of predictability. UL is often relied upon to help – an example of how private firms and government work together to make things better.

    As you suggested, we can agree to disagree, but I do think it’s important to correct misunderstandings when they do occur. I did not communicate about jobs and business, apparently, clearly – at least to you – so I’m straightening that out here. But you have a misunderstanding of the welfare clause(s) of the Constitution and might find it interesting to trace the litigation regarding it. See, e.g., South Dakota v Dole 1987 as a good example. It’s not about whether the poor should get handouts.

  • jwatersphd

    Again, you’re taking an abstract, theoretical position. We do not have a “free market” system on the whole, though there are certain spheres in which the system approaches one. And we must have strong laws to have free markets that make sense. To clarify, if there are not laws to prevent it, a monopoly can become powerful enough to do whatever it takes to destroy any business that comes up with a “better product.” The Mob is a good example. And in the Robber Baron days, illegal methods were often used, as well as the infiltration of government to bring about competitors’ demise legally. And, it doesn’t have to be a matter of a “better idea.” If one company controls everything necessary to produce and sell something – like steel, for instance – you are not going to have competition, and the monopoly can do what it pleases. A “better idea” is beside the point in that case. Monopolies often work by invading a market area and charging much less for the same product as a local firm, subsidizing that by their operations in other market areas. The local firm is driven out of business, and then the monopoly is free to do what it wants. Education is not going to help this. If we want competition, it is sometimes going to require government intervention.

  • jwatersphd

    What do you mean? The health care outcome studies start with broadly-agreed-upon variables, like infant mortality and expenditures, and they collect the data. Of course one can criticize methodology, and one criticism might be that the variables selected create a certain bias. You see such criticism of political polls, for instance. Thus, you are right, as a work of science, any study can be criticized, but that does not justify a conclusion that the studies of health care are generically flawed, or that they are designed with a bias to make the US system look shabby. In particular, I don’t see anyone arguing that the US gets more “bang per buck” than other systems, which was my point. There are other ways in which our system may be superior, but that’s not one of them.

  • jwatersphd

    I don’t get the “… you obviously did.” Did what?

    Obama does not reflect the state of US intelligentsia, but, even if he did, “standing up” to Putin wouldn’t count for much as a gauge of the intellectual power of the country.

  • Duke1CA

    I don’t support complete laissez-faire Capitalism because I agree that the business world is just as corrupt as government. This is exactly why our founders recognized the need for a government to be able to regulate the business world but not dominate it, as most want today. There will always be injustices in any society. But trying to eliminate all of them leads to the greatest injustice of all: Tyranny.

  • jwatersphd

    Very interesting thoughts. Mostly I agree; I’m not sure about your concluding sentence, but certainly worth considering.

  • Duke1CA

    Thanks for the positive comment!

  • jwatersphd

    You’re welcome. There seem to be lots of reasons why we can’t eliminate all injustices. Maybe the biggest one is that probably we couldn’t even agree about what they all are. Working that out seems to require treating others as equals, in principle. I suppose total elimination would probably leave no room for compromise, implying some kind of domination. So I think you may be at least partly correct: It seems to imply something like tyranny, though I think there are other very dysfunctional possible outcomes to an intolerance for compromise. Tyranny seems to require some monolithic force, so it’s one outcome. Does that make sense?

  • euwe max

    We *told* you Republicans were on the take!

    It took a bunch of hayseeds to convince you… and you’re *still* not sure what’s going on!

    If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were going hook line and sinker for the Koch brother’s idea that libertarians are the new party of the rich.

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