14
Oct
11

Less Is More: The Orwellian Derangement Of Libertarian Economics

LOL

Of all of the huff-puffing attempts by political groups to catch up to and co-opt Occupy Wall Street, none are so awkward and laughable as that of the economic libertarians. At least when establishment Democratic supporters MoveOn or SEIU et al. fire up their mailing lists to say “us too!” weeks after the major cities have been occupied, they can truthfully claim to have been in some way part of the general struggle against the core problem of big business’s capture of our democracy.

But when the libertarian Cato Institute does the same thing, it’s comical, tantamount to an arsonist showing up to his own handiwork wearing a homemade fireman’s hat holding a dixie cup full of water.

Look at this Venn diagram published by Cato this week .  It’s nothing short of a masterpiece of self-satire.

In it, we are told that the Tea Party and OWS are appreciably similar things.  Yes, the Tea Party, that designed, funded, guided expression of the will of big business, astroturfed by corporate uber-lobbyist Dick Armey.  Cato expects us to believe that the Tea Party movement (characterized by civics illiteracy, mau-mau images, guns and anger at taxation) and OWS, (characterized by civil disobedience, class consciousness, smart phones and anger at corrupted institutions) share a core premise.

The premise?  It’s written in the Venn overlap region in the center: that “large corporations lobby for the government to have more power”.

Wait.  What?  More power?  In what world is that true, and what color is the sky there?

Because in this world, what big business does is the precise opposite.

1) The fact is, big business feverishly lobbies for government to impose deregulation.  That’s deregulation, meaning removing government power to regulate big business and markets.  Big business wants government to have zero say in financial markets, and gets what it wants want at a frightening clip.  For example, in 1999 when Glass-Steagall was repealed.  GS had, since the 1930s, imposed market safety regulation, but its removal greenlit the multitrillion monster market in mortgage-backed securities that caused the meltdown of 2008.

The leader of the effort to wipe out GS was Republican Senator Phil Gramm of Texas.  And who waved the pom-pons for this disaster while Phil took the ball across the goal line?

A chorus of anti-regulation libertarian think tanks, of course.  Such as Cato’s ideological twin the Mercatus Center.  Enjoy browsing the work of Senator Phil Gramm’s wife Wendy, Mercatus’s senior scholar.  Take in the deregulation-paean video “The Cost Of Workplace Regulations”. Keep a tissue handy as Mrs. Gramm shows us the pain of oil companies in her article “EPA Speeds Ahead With Ill-Conceived Vehicle And Gasoline Standards”.

Yes, people such as this not only carry water for big business and lead the charge to beat back regulation and taxes, they produce Venn diagrams claiming big business wants the government to have more power.

Less is more.  Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

2) The next of Cato’s Orwellian perversions: big business lobbies against campaign finance reform.  Campaign financing as it stands is the mechanism of normalized corruption of electoral politics and representative government.  It is the implementation of the free market for political results – the only free market libertarians are uncomfortable acknowledging.  Without its corruption of our representative democracy, big business has to face paying its taxes, reducing its pollution, economically developing instead of savaging the United States.  As such, campaign finance reform is the last thing big business wants touched. Which is why Cato and libertarians are 110% against campaign finance reform.

3) Big business lobbies to obtain tax cuts and loopholes that reduce their obligation to fund the society they inhabit.  To be fair, in this area, libertarian economics does not provide the majority of cover to big business, conservative think tanks such as Heritage do. But this is only because Cato never found a tax it found necessary.  The power of the government to tax is anathema to Cato – and it’s no coincidence that the plummeting effective corporate tax rates in the US (in the case of General Electric in 2010, 0%) is an idea that Cato, to say the least, endorses.  That is to say, again, less power for the government and more for big business.

So we’re supposed to believe, as we take to the streets to take back our democracy from big business, that Cato and the Tea Party are our pals?

Hey chief, there’s something funny about that firefighter over there.  He smells like gasoline and there’s matches falling out of his pockets.


18 Responses to “Less Is More: The Orwellian Derangement Of Libertarian Economics”


  1. October 15, 2011 at 8:31 am

    The things these people think they get away with …

  2. 2 Abby Normal
    October 16, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    I swear youve got a talent for making the Paulbots look dumber than they already look.

    I assume this is you over at OWS?!

    http://occupywallst.org/forum/which-of-the-demands-of-the-99-has-ron-paul-not-ch/

    LOL

    -jk

    • October 16, 2011 at 5:10 pm

      Oh, I can’t take any credit for doing that! I am but a mirror held up to the duh.

      It’s depressing because as ridiculous and pro-corporate as they are, Paulbots kind of oppose war, and definitlely oppose cop overstep and stupid drug laws. It’s a time to remember that Hitler built great roads and loved animals.

      I just hitlered my blog! God dammit!
      :(

  3. 4 Another Paulbot
    October 28, 2011 at 5:51 am

    It’s interesting that you single out Gramm for ‘leading the charge’ to repeal GS, but fail to mention that it was Clinton who broke the deadlock, and then signed it into law.

    From your link:

    After 12 attempts in 25 years, Congress finally repeals Glass-Steagall, rewarding financial companies for more than 20 years and $300 million worth of lobbying efforts. Supporters hail the change as the long-overdue demise of a Depression-era relic.

    On Oct. 21, with the House-Senate conference committee deadlocked after marathon negotiations, the main sticking point is partisan bickering over the bill’s effect on the Community Reinvestment Act, which sets rules for lending to poor communities. Sandy Weill calls President Clinton in the evening to try to break the deadlock after Senator Phil Gramm, chairman of the Banking Committee, warned Citigroup lobbyist Roger Levy that Weill has to get White House moving on the bill or he would shut down the House-Senate conference. Serious negotiations resume, and a deal is announced at 2:45 a.m. on Oct. 22. Whether Weill made any difference in precipitating a deal is unclear.

    On Oct. 22, Weill and John Reed issue a statement congratulating Congress and President Clinton, including 19 administration officials and lawmakers by name. The House and Senate approve a final version of the bill on Nov. 4, and Clinton signs it into law later that month.

    Just days after the administration (including the Treasury Department) agrees to support the repeal, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, the former co-chairman of a major Wall Street investment bank, Goldman Sachs, raises eyebrows by accepting a top job at Citigroup as Weill’s chief lieutenant. The previous year, Weill had called Secretary Rubin to give him advance notice of the upcoming merger announcement. When Weill told Rubin he had some important news, the secretary reportedly quipped, “You’re buying the government?”

    Pro-corporate is not the problem, pro-corporaTISM is the problem…and both the Republican and Democratic parties are full vested in it.

    • October 28, 2011 at 10:37 am

      What is your point? Because the President signed Gramm-Leach-Bliley into law, that I’m somehow wrong about libertarian deregulatory economics being completely full of shit?

      If a warehouse has a sprinkler system, and its owner is told by numerous consultants that the sprinkler system is getting in the way of profits and should be removed, and the owner removes it and the warehouse later burns down, the consultants aren’t wrong?

      What?

      • 6 Another Paulbot
        October 28, 2011 at 11:42 am

        Just that you seemed hellbent on blaming Libertarians for that de-regulation, when it was clearly a bi-partisan deal cooked up by Republicans mostly, but had Democrats stood against it firmly it would have died in the House. There aren’t enough Libertarians in the House of Representatives to make a difference either way.

        http://clerk.house.gov/evs/1999/roll570.xml

        Unfortunately for my position, Rep. Paul abstained on that vote. It wasn’t a yes, but it wasn’t a no either.

      • October 28, 2011 at 12:32 pm

        Ron Paul is on record as seeing Gramm-Leach-Bliley as not deregulatory enough. You needn’t worry about his position relative to the problem: he was and is always in favor of letting Wall Street do whatever they please. That, and a bunch of backward 19th-century gold buggery thrown in for good measure.

  4. 8 Another Paulbot
    October 28, 2011 at 7:17 am

    All the links in your second point are to articles about taxpayer funds used for campaigns, not about corporations/unions contributing…I feel if corporations are disallowed, so should unions be. Donations should be from individuals, and should be reasonably capped. Why do you need 90 million dollars to run your campaign? http://www.opensecrets.org/pres12/candidate.php?cycle=2012&id=N00009638
    But that’s a different argument.

    As far as GE is concerned, this is what I mean when I say corporatism, our government favoring one company over another, providing tax incentives for a FEW at the expense of the MANY.

    I realize Ron Paul steps on a lot of toes, he has his own view point and isn’t afraid to share it. I believe, though, that he would not use the presidency to enforce those views on the rest of us. I do not consider myself a ‘libertarian’, although I probably lean farther in that direction than any other. I don’t see any of the candidates (on either side of the political aisle) doing anything to promote my own personal freedom more so than Paul. I don’t claim that Paul is the do-all end-all savior of the republic, but I think he’s the only one that makes any sense right now that’s actually entered the race.

    It’s not about being for or against big business, it’s about the combination of big business and government that prevents competition from smaller entities. Yes, there does need to be some regulation. It has to be carefully applied, though, and not play favorites.

    • October 28, 2011 at 10:49 am

      “As far as GE is concerned, this is what I mean when I say corporatism, our government favoring one company over another, providing tax incentives for a FEW at the expense of the MANY.”

      So you agree that taxes should be paid by every large corporation. That’s great – that would put you in the vanishing minority in the libertarian movement. It’s only a short hop from there to notice how tax breaks are created. They are only enacted by government. They are created by big business – in many, many ways. They use infiltration through the private/public revolving door, the think tanks, campaign contributions, lobbying, economic blackmail, canned legislation, and other techniques. The civic question of our times is absolutely about the good citizenship of big business – or, rather, the increasingly shitty and psychopathic citizenship of big business, e.g. its hacking apart of the regulatory state and manipulating millions into thinking that’s a good idea even as the same people flee from the disasters created.

      • 10 Another Paulbot
        October 28, 2011 at 11:45 am

        I don’t have a problem with taxes. Like I said, I’m not a true libertarian. Most Americans aren’t a ‘true’ anything, we take views from both sides and meet in the middle somewhere. There are legitimate uses for government, and so revenue must be generated. But it has to be across the board and fair for all. No loopholes, no bullshit, everyone pays into the system so that everyone has a stake in it.

      • 11 Another Paulbot
        October 28, 2011 at 12:01 pm

        This last statement seems to legitimize the diagram that you make fun of earlier in your post. I don’t propose a total de-regulation of everything, but a lot of the regulations we do have in place are favorable to a select few, while strangling their competition. That is what needs to be addressed.

        Big business DOES want government to have more power, that way government can grant larger favors to the select few with fewer repercussions and less competition. It’s a vicious circle that just grows larger. If we limit the role of government (not do away with completely, just remove their ability to grant favors), then we limit the big business as well because they can no longer have enacted on their behalf legislation that edges out competition.

      • October 28, 2011 at 12:26 pm

        “Big business DOES want government to have more power, that way government can grant larger favors to the select few with fewer repercussions and less competition.”

        There’s some more of that Orewllian derangement.

        If big business wanted government to have more power, why does it spend its time in Washington trying (and increasingly succeeding) to remove hated regulations and taxes? If you think, for example, federal health and safety regulations are wanted by big business – who had many, many decades to voluntarily install them and of course did not – you have several screws loose. Or you work for a libertarian think tank.

        I already gave the example of the sprinkler system and the consultants. You ignored it. You have to ignore it; market fundamentalism is predicated on ignoring evidence. Gigantic evidence, such as the fact that financial deregulation set the entire world on fire not three years ago. Market fundamentalism is predicated on palpably untrue things, such as believing that clean air and water just happen out of enlightened self-interest by big business. It’s predicated on a whole raft of fairy tales and upside-down perspectives and historical ignorance. Economic libertarianism is nothing less than philosophical and intellectual cover for the prerogatives of big business.

        The point of my post is that OWS belongs nowhere near it, and that it’s hilarious to watch libertarians try to deny this,

  5. 13 Another Paulbot
    October 28, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Actually, I agree with you that OWS belongs nowhere near the libertarian movement. OWS seems to support a large federal government, libertarianism tends the other direction. I’m really not arguing with you about regulation either, I think some is necessary. I think you misunderstand when I say that big business wants government to have more power. Not power over them in a regulatory sense, but power to grant them favors and pick winners.

    Didn’t it disturb you that Clinton’s Treasury Secretary got a cushy job with Citigroup just days after that bill was passed? Didn’t that smack of favoritism? To use your analogy, the consultants were in league with the owner’s accountant, who then quit to work for one of the consultant companies.

    The question is not about whether regulation is needed so much as it is about who should do the regulating. I tend toward the belief that it should be handled as much as possible at the state/local levels. They see first hand what the businesses are up to, and can respond much quicker and more accurately.

    Just my opinion. I think we’ll have to agree to disagree.

    • October 28, 2011 at 10:25 pm

      “Didn’t it disturb you that Clinton’s Treasury Secretary got a cushy job with Citigroup just days after that bill was passed? Didn’t that smack of favoritism?”

      Absolutely. It should be illegal. The only institution with the power to make this revolving door illegal is the public through its government, our democratic government. Knowing this, and listening to Ron Paul, Cato, Mises, Mercatus, et. al. repeat endlessly that the free market is more important than the public’s own interests – and in repeating this dumb idea enunciate their opposition to campaign finance reform, to hiring reform and to tax reform that isn’t simplistically flat and rich-favoring – should make any fan of democracy sick to his stomach.

      “The question is not about whether regulation is needed so much as it is about who should do the regulating. I tend toward the belief that it should be handled as much as possible at the state/local levels. They see first hand what the businesses are up to, and can respond much quicker and more accurately. ”

      You’re right when you say you’re no libertarian. Ron Paul is way out of sync with your position. Even so, as it stands, states are not an answer because: state government costs far less to corrupt when we should be trying to raise, not lower the total price/penalty of corruption to those who attempt it, states have no power to keep pollution or the effects of economic crime from crossing state lines, have comparatively little power to tax in the first place even as they shoulder the bulk of the burden of public services, meaning they’re flat broke thanks to steady downward pressure on tax rates at the federal level, such pressure the constant project of big business.

  6. 15 Another Paulbot
    October 28, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    One final thing…after a bit of research, I find that this image came from a blog, not the CATO institute.

    http://howconservativesdrovemeaway.blogspot.com/2011/10/occupy-wall-street-vs-tea-party.html

    The CATO institute referenced it in their article. Last post, promise. Have fun!

    • October 28, 2011 at 10:02 pm

      I don’t mind the discussion.

      “[The diagram] makes a hopeful statement, I think, about the Occupy Wall Street movement and its potential or actual kinship with Tea Partyism. ” – Cato Institute blogger on the a Cato Institute blog.

      We know that the blogosphere is often built upon “borrowed” content. That’s why I wrote Cato published the diagram, not that they originated it. But the fact is it was published because it’s narrative is 110% in line with libertarian think-tank’s systematic ideological pollution of public thought: no matter what the problem is, it’s the government’s fault.

      The relentless one-sidedness of this drumbeat alone should make anybody wonder why to ever take them at face value or to consider them much more than anarchists for rich people.

      • 17 Another Paulbot
        October 29, 2011 at 9:05 am

        It seemed like you were angry at me for questioning your premises. I’m glad you don’t mind discussing the problems.

        We agree things are fucked up. We’re at odds over who got it this way. I’m at the point where I don’t much care who screwed it up, I just want to find a way to fix it. I don’t think the federal government is the entire answer, though. They need to be involved at some point, but a larger bureaucracy means more taxes out of my pocket. Or out of Walmart’s pocket, which eventually amounts to the same thing. If I pay more to the government or I pay more for my socks, the end result is the same. I have less money, and Big Government/Big Business has more. For better or worse, we need some federal government, we just need to keep it to a reasonable level…just enough to do what has to be done.

        OWS is based on the idea that the bankers are totally at fault for this mess and only government can save us from them. To a point they are correct, the bankers engaged in questionable activities and over extended themselves. However, our government, rather than stepping in to split up the giant cartels, enabled them to do this. Republicans and Democrats are both playing this game of ‘blame the other party for the mess’ when both of them were complicit in the meltdown in the first place. So who do we turn to? You speak of democracy, but in the end we are not a democracy. We have to elect people to represent us. Of the declared candidates for President as of this moment, who can we trust to set things straight? Obama has proven to be a Wall Street/status quo/establishment candidate. I am concerned with actions, not rhetoric. He panders to whatever audience he’s addressing, but turns around and keeps the whole too big to fail banking system afloat. Who else is there? Romney? Perry? Cain? They are panderers as well. Bachmann is nutty, Gingrich is…welll….Gingrich. Santorum scares me, I think he’d have us invading the entire Middle East. That leaves Ron Paul. He advocates deregulation, yes, but do you think he’d be able to get that past Congress? I don’t. So that’s kind of a moot point. It doesn’t matter so much what he personally believes (I disagree with him on abortion for one thing), I believe he would end the wars and bring our people home. The fact that he gets almost no money from big business for his campaign, and gets a lot from our servicemen, has impressed me. The rest of his platform can’t be accomplished through the presidency alone, so it would require discussion. You and I have proved it is possible for different minded people to actually discuss something without resorting to name calling. If we talk about it enough, we’ll come to find some middle ground that we can agree on, and that is how the country works. But we have to start talking to one another, and not let the media(which is another big business) divide and conquer us. We have to stop hiding behind these labels that they place on us. We are Americans first and foremost, and that means we work together to fix problems.

        “state government costs far less to corrupt when we should be trying to raise, not lower the total price/penalty of corruption to those who attempt it”

        Then we should be trying to weed out the corruption, which should be easier to do at local levels. If we can’t stop it at home, how can we stop it in DC?

        “states have no power to keep pollution or the effects of economic crime from crossing state lines”

        true enough, this is an instance of federal power being justified. The states do have power to regulate such activity within that state, and to punish accordingly. If the people object to something enough, their local government will have to do something about it.

        “have comparatively little power to tax in the first place even as they shoulder the bulk of the burden of public services, meaning they’re flat broke thanks to steady downward pressure on tax rates at the federal level, such pressure the constant project of big business.

        States can tax all they want, but it runs off the larger businesses. That’s one reason why businesses are moving to the southern states. Other states have increased tax rates, so they’re moving down south (or overseas) to get away from it.
        As far as public services, I think we could do away with much of it, the federal government is good about starting a project, then leaving it up to the states to fund it. Let each state institute (and fund) it’s own projects, that way if it fails the damage is contained to a smaller area and it’s theoretically easier to repeal. If it’s successful other states can emulate it. For those federal programs that we don’t want to abolish (like SS/Medicare etc), block grants would be good, just allocate the federal tax monies that are collected to each state to spread around as it needs to, rather than specifying where each dollar has to go.

      • October 29, 2011 at 11:55 am

        “I’m at the point where I don’t much care who screwed it up, I just want to find a way to fix it. I don’t think the federal government is the entire answer, though. They need to be involved at some point, but a larger bureaucracy means more taxes out of my pocket. Or out of Walmart’s pocket, which eventually amounts to the same thing. If I pay more to the government or I pay more for my socks, the end result is the same. I have less money, and Big Government/Big Business has more. For better or worse, we need some federal government, we just need to keep it to a reasonable level…just enough to do what has to be done.”

        I think you’ve got “we” and “they” very badly mixed up.

        The only means to fix national problems is our own power through representative democracy as designed by the founders. Which is why your above formulation – equating your interests with those of Wal-Mart’s – is enormously unhelpful to everybody but Wal-Mart.

        That formulation didn’t get into your head by accident. It was put there by the people who have monopolized the economic and civic discussion for two generations: big business.

        First, you’ve absolutely got to get away from this idea that Wal-Mart’s interests and your own are the same or even comparable. Start from the ground up: Your lot in life and Wal-Mart’s lot in life are fail every basic comparison. You’re a person. Corporations aren’t people. You’re an invidivudal, but Wal-Mart outnumbers you in income, in head count and increasingly, in rights. You pay a higher percentage in taxes of your income than does Wal-Mart. You’re a voter and a customer, but your freedom of choice in both has been steadily eradicated for you by Wal Mart’s economic muscle a) destroying your local small business b) destroying the responsivity government owes to your vote.

        I made a joke on Twitter last night about the final game in the World Series. St. Louis beat the Texas Rangers, and so I joked the Texas school system textbooks would put the winner down as the Texas Rangers. (The joke is about how over the past few years, fundie Christians have joined Texas’s textbook committees and insisted on including outright falsehoods and skipping over uncomfortable historical facts by editing them away.)

        The joke went well, thousands read it and hundreds passed it along. Because lots of people are kind of aware that the Texas school system is treating its textbooks like the Soviet Union’s repressive regime did in its heyday.

        Now, here’s a golden example of contemporary government dysfunction. It’s true that the school board “committed” these crimes against its kids and against history. But the critical observation is that the ethos behind the crimes is not of government: it comes solely from a Christian dominionism and anti-intellectualism that openly insists on mixing state and church.

        So when we see this happen, what’s the correct response? Is it to say “government is too powerful”? Or is it to say “Wow, there are some real anti-American motherfuckers willing to take up the reins of government power and pervert the purpose of public institutions to serve a narrow agenda”?

        What is the right course of action? Is it to vote for people whose answer to every problem is “government is too powerful”?

        Or is it instead to get up yourself (e.g. Texans) and become involved directly to push out these whack job idiots?

        While written small, this is exactly the same problem with big business’s capture of federal and state government. Big business’s takeover through polluting the democratic process has been thirty-plus years of work decimating and privatizing the regulatory state, pushing away obligations — to pay taxes, to economically develop the US, to be regulated by the people who pay the costs owners incur but won’t pay. Big business insists on perverting the purpose of public institutions to serve the narrow agenda of the ownership class. And it’s true that government, once captured, “commits” these crimes against its own people. But the ethos behind the crimes are not of government: it comes solely from a market fundamentalism and anti-democracy that openly insists on equating personal and corporate rights (Citizens United), cutting longstanding and effective market regulation (Gramm-Leach-Blilely), and standing in the way of campaign finance reform (every libertarian think tank there is).

        So when we see this happen, what is the correct response? Is it to say “government is too powerful” and to vote for people whose prescription is to destroy it even further, to remove our voice in it even more?

        Or is the right response to get up yourself and become involved directly to pressure these private interests to back away from the public, democratic sphere at long last after thirty years of taking the abuse?

        That’s what OWS is doing. That’s the only thing to do.

        Except at its cash registers, big business absolutely does not want you to show up. It doesn’t want its workers to show up to union meetings. It doesn’t want its customers to show up at community meetings or in court against them. It doesn’t want citizens or neighbors, it wants only customers and workers, the latter preferably children in Asian sweatshops, paid pennies if at all.

        These truths alone should get your attention and show you have a binary choice. Having noticed what big business wants, you can give big business everything it wants, or you can stand up and say “enough”.

        If you don’t like what government’s been doing, you should notice in whose interests it has been acting.

        You should join OWS.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Categories

Email

rob [at] warmowski [dot] com

@warmowski on Twitter

Rob at Huffington Post

Rob on Chicago White Sox Baseball

Rob on Chicago foibles at True/Slant

Rob’s Bands

Rob Warmowski entry at Chicago Punk Database
1984-89: Defoliants
1991-94: Buzzmuscle
2001-05: San Andreas Fault
2008- : Sirs
2008- : Allende
October 2011
M T W T F S S
« Sep   Nov »
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31  

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: