Archive for the ‘socialists’ Category

Fighting over the wheel of government

October 16th, 2007 5 comments

[update below]  Fundamentalist states on an interesting thread: “Most Americans are outright socialists; the rest are socialist sympathizers. They believe that only the government can save them from capitalists.”

In response, I raised the following questions:

Do you think Jefferson was wrong when he urged:

“I hope we shall crush … in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.
–Thomas Jefferson to George Logan, 1816.

The concentrated wealth and long lives of corporations have long made them a special and powerful class of rent-seekers, eliminating liability for shareholders and vanquishing restrictions on life and acceptable business activities. Are citizens wrong to seek to counterbalance corporations, using in part the very tool of government that corporations have effectively seized?

Let me add here the comment that while ultimately the way forward lies in hacking back government, one cannot deny that rent-seeking by corporations has been and continues to be a major factor in politicizing and hardening conflicts that could otherwise be resolved privately.  While bashing “socialists”, “enviros” and other citizens groups, it behooves us not to forget the 800 lb. gorilla in the room.

[update in response to comments:]

I agree completely that the best way to lessen rent-seeking is to reduce the rents that are available through government. 

This implies smaller government, but also suggests that we can make progress by focussing on breathing more life into the federalist structure of power-sharing with the states, the checks and balances between the branches of government, by limiting the ability of either political party to get a local lock on power by gerrymandering.

I appreciate the agreement that citizens are not wrong to seek to counterbalance corporations, but you’ve missed a point.  Corporations are the 800 lb. gorilla not because of ongoing corporate welfare – that’s simply the effect.  Their powerful advantages over citizens in influencing government comes from their size and financial power, which derives from legislative grants of unlimited life, unlimited purposes and limited liability for their investors.  To reduce government, some effort must be made to moderate these advantages.