Monday, September 27, 2010

"The Left Right Paradigm is Over: Its You vs. [Big] Corporations"

The current administration seems hell-bent on Political Capitalism* rather than emulating Mussolini's more benign Corporatism. Don't email, I understand the differences. Wikipedia does a decent job in their intro:
Corporatism also known as corporativism is a system of economic, political, or social organisation that views a community as a body based upon organic social solidarity and functional distinction and roles amongst individuals. The term corporatism is based on the Latin word "corpus" meaning "body". Formal corporatist models are based upon the contract of corporate groups, such as agricultural, business, ethnic, labour, military, patronage, scientific, or religious affiliations, into a collective body.

One of the most prominent forms of corporatism is economic tripartism involving negotiations between business, labour, and state interest groups to set economic policy. In contemporary usage, "corporatism" is often used as a pejorative term against the domination of politics by the interests of business corporations based on the inaccurate interpretation of "corporat" in corporatism as referring to business corporations.
From The Big Picture:
Every generation or so, a major secular shift takes place that shakes up the existing paradigm. It happens in industry, finance, literature, sports, manufacturing, technology, entertainment, travel, communication, etc.
I would like to discuss the paradigm shift that is occurring in politics.

For a long time, American politics has been defined by a Left/Right dynamic. It was Liberals versus Conservatives on a variety of issues. Pro-Life versus Pro-Choice, Tax Cuts vs. More Spending, Pro-War vs Peaceniks, Environmental Protections vs. Economic Growth, Pro-Union vs. Union-Free, Gay Marriage vs. Family Values, School Choice vs. Public Schools, Regulation vs. Free Markets.

The new dynamic, however, has moved past the old Left Right paradigm. We now live in an era defined by increasing Corporate influence and authority over the individual. These two “interest groups” – I can barely suppress snorting derisively over that phrase – have been on a headlong collision course for decades, which came to a head with the financial collapse and bailouts. Where there is massive concentrations of wealth and influence, there will be abuse of power.  The Individual has been supplanted in the political process nearly entirely by corporate money, legislative influence, campaign contributions, even free speech rights.
This may not be a brilliant insight, but it is surely an overlooked one. It is now an Individual vs. Corporate debate – and the Humans are losing.
• Many of the regulations that govern energy and banking sector were written by Corporations;
• The biggest influence on legislative votes is often Corporate Lobbying;
• Corporate ability to extend copyright far beyond what original protections amounts to a taking of public works for private corporate usage;
• PAC and campaign finance by Corporations has supplanted individual donations to elections;
• The individuals’ right to seek redress in court has been under attack for decades, limiting their options.
• DRM and content protection undercuts the individual’s ability to use purchased content as they see fit;
• Patent protections are continually weakened. Deep pocketed corporations can usurp inventions almost at will;
• The Supreme Court has ruled that Corporations have Free Speech rights equivalent to people; (So much for original intent!)
None of these are Democrat/Republican conflicts, but rather, are corporate vs. individual issues.
For those of you who are stuck in the old Left/Right debate, you are missing the bigger picture. Consider this about the Bailouts: It was a right-winger who bailed out all of the big banks, Fannie Mae, and AIG in the first place; then his left winger successor continued to pour more money into the fire pit.
What difference did the Left/Right dynamic make? Almost none whatsoever.

How about government spending? The past two presidents are regarded as representative of the Left Right paradigm – yet they each spent excessively, sponsored unfunded tax cuts, plowed money into military adventures and ran enormous deficits. Does Left Right really make a difference when it comes to deficits and fiscal responsibility? (Apparently not)....MORE

*From the Political Capital website:
Political capitalism is a private-property, market-oriented system that is compromised by business-sponsored government intervention. It is a socioeconomic system in which many or most regulations, subsidies, and tax-code provisions result from the lobbying efforts of directly affected businesses and their allies.

Today in the United States, there is greater political transparency and competition between political elites than was evident in the business-dominated past (the 19th and most of the 20th centuries). Interventions routinely result from non-business special interests representing education, the environment, labor, minorities, religion, retirees, science, and taxpayers, among others. Still, business interests—unified or in opposition—are arguably the most important of the elites that compete for special government favor in American politics today.

There are two avenues to business success under a private-property, profit-and-loss system. When using the economic means, or free-market means, businessmen provide goods or services in an open market and rely on voluntary consumer patronage. When using the political means, businessmen obtain a governmental restriction or favor that provides the margin of success beyond what consumer preference alone would give. Market entrepreneurship is the way of capitalism; political entrepreneurship, or rent-seeking as it is known in the economics literature, is the way of political capitalism.

Business interests welcome competition for the things they buy (to minimize costs) far more than for things they sell. They may profess support for free enterprise in general but not in their particular area. There, competition is disparaged as "unbridled," "cut-throat," "excessive," or "unfair," and calls are made to constrain the free market.
Historian Gabriel Kolko has defined political capitalism as "the utilization of political outlets to attain conditions of stability, predictability, and security—to attain rationalization—in the economy." Much of the intervention that he and other historians documented in U.S. history was for business, by business to "allow corporations to function in a predictable and secure environment permitting reasonable profits over the long run."...MORE