Home > Uncategorized > Dr. George Reisman and the Curious Case of the Missing Crony Capitalists, or, Moral Blindness Helps Me to See Clearly

Dr. George Reisman and the Curious Case of the Missing Crony Capitalists, or, Moral Blindness Helps Me to See Clearly

I refer to Dr. Reisman‘s October 21 post at Mises Daily, “In Praise of the Capitalist 1 Percent “. (The good Dr. and I go back a few years, as some of my readers may recall.)

In face of growing economic dislocation and discontent, Dr. Reisman serves up his usual, disappointing fare of portraying powerful (and provident) ‘capitalists’ as the victim of goverment and of the yammering mob. We all just KNOW it’s those with much less wealth who are corrupting government, socializing losses via the banking system and trying to raise barriers of entry that divide markets and limit competition, right?

Sure, the rabble may not well understand how capitalism is SUPPOSED to work, but they’re damned right that it isn’t , in large measure as a result of deliberate gaming and cynical socialization of risk by our so-called ‘capitalists’.

Rather serving up useful insights – or even appropriate outrage – Dr. Reisman is serving up smoke screens to protect those who bear the greatest blame for destroying laissez faire capitalism and Hayek’s essential “market morals”:

Hayek on the grim threat posed by the erosion of “market morals”; Who, exactly, is leading us down the primrose Road to Serfdom?

Those whom Reisman is actually defending are not pure capitalists, acting under laissez faire competition, but largely rapacious and irresponsible CEOs of large, listed companies, who, freed from any control of their erstwhile shareholder ‘owners,’ use government to crush competition, etc.

In effect, Dr. Reisman is defending the very people MOST RESPONSIBLE for DESTROYING laissez faire capitalism. For shame, George!

I left the following comment (edited lightly):

In his capable defense of our non-existent system of laissez faire capitalism, the good Dr. Reisman is curiously blind to the ways in which the ‘capitalists’ he defends are themselves BOTH the primary drivers and beneficiaries of the destruction of capitalism that he rightly lauds.

In Reisman Land, it’s always the powerful and corrupt ‘capitalists’ who are the victims of the relatively powerless hoi polloi.

Even Dr. Reisman’s throwaway references to ill-gotten gains shift focus and responsibility from powerful men ACTING to use government to the black box of government, which acts mysteriously and punishes as much as rewards firms: “government is permitted to depart from a policy of strict laissez-faire and thereby arbitrarily reward or punish firms”.

None is so blind as he who will NOT see. Dr. Reisman appears to be lacking a theory of Human Action, or rather, a theory in which men with money, in order to mitigate the rigors of laissez faire competition or to get easy money from selling goods and services to government, sometimes ACTIVELY coordinate their action with men more directly controlling the levers of government.

Instead, Dr. Reisman only sees the small man – laborers, officer workers, professionals and consumers – avariciously acting to use government to tie down and confiscate the wealth of the rich, noble, and heroic yet powerless capitalist.

Does the good Dr. not see that his capitalists, far from free and responsible men, act through GOVERNMENT-CREATED and licensed “limited liability” entities that are selected precisely because they shield the owners from personal responsibility for the harms their firms cause to others and the public and large? And that the intimate government role, the resulting harms and the lack of personal accountability are the very reasons why the victims then band together to petition government to “do something!”, rather than simply chasing the owners and their servants with pitchforks?

I agree with Dr. Reisman that ongoing events are a morality play writ large. But unfortunately Dr. Reisman (like many people now fed up with rampant crony capitalism who now blame ‘capitalism’ and the 1%) describes it to us in black and white.

Perhaps his mother took his Kodachrome away, but can’t we at least expect some shades of gray?

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