Saturday, December 28, 2013

"Yes Virginia, Obama and the Democrats Are Mussolini-Style Corporatists, Just Like the Republicans"

I've a feeling we'll be coming back to the subject of corporatism over the course of 2014.

From our March 2013 post "Copyright Infringement Now Seen As Terrorism":
As Political Capitalism becomes indistinguishable from Mussolini's Corporatism it's getting close to the time where the West has to decide just what it wants to be when it grows up.

"The rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes, many of our rich men have not been content with equal protection and equal benefits, but have besought us to make them richer by acts of Congress."
Andrew Jackson (1830) Cited by Charles Sellers, The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America 1815-1846. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991, p. 62

"Capitalism's biggest political enemies are not the firebrand trade unionists spewing vitriol against the system but the executives in pin-striped suits extolling the virtues of competitive markets with every breath while attempting to extinguish them with every action."
Raghuram Rajan and Luigi Zingales, Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists. New York: Crown Business, 2003, p. 276. 
And yes, I know the distinction between Fascism and vertical syndicalist corporatism based on guilds. I'm just using a shorthand, readily understandable usage....
Phrases such as "...the distinction between Fascism and vertical syndicalist corporatism based on guilds" make me the hit of any party.

From naked capitalism's Yves Smith writing at Truth-Out:

High stakes: Zynga chairman Mark Pincus, Yahoo! chief executive Marissa Mayer and US President Barack Obama.
President Barack Obama meets with technology company executives to discuss surveillance and health care in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Dec. 17, 2013. From right: Obama; Marissa Mayer, the chief executive of Yahoo!; and Mark Pincus, a co-founder of Zynga. (Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times) 
Reader dSquib flagged a “bizarre” article by Mike Konczal in the New Republic titled, “Corporatism” is the Latest Hysterical Right-Wing Accusation: The secret history of a smear.” dSquib seemed quite perplexed that anyone would deem calling Obama a corporatist, which as we’ll demonstrate is patently true, a smear.
I’m actually a bit miffed that Konczal treats the “corporatism” appellation as the sole property of the right wing (in the style sheet of the Vichy Left, calling them “hysterics” is redundant but necessary for the rubes), since I have a prior claim. And what is particularly rich is that Konczal apparently regards the allusion to Mussolini to be unfair:
Right-wing critics have a new favorite word to malign President Obama’s economic policies: corporatism. Naturally, it’s an ugly word. Whether it evokes Benito Mussolini’s fascist Italy or just an image of the rich growing richer through government collusion, it’s a vision nobody would defend. Nobody is for corporatism.
“Nobody is for corporatism”? Huh? Why does Konczal think K Street and “think tanks” which for the most part the arms and legs of corporations, exist? There is an entire large, well funded, and extremely effective business apparatus that extracts lucrative programs, explicit subsidies, guarantees, and various other gimmies from government bodies at all levels. Tom Ferguson has been meticulously documenting since the early 1980s how campaign finance in America works, which he calls he calls the “investment theory of politics“: that political parties in the US respond not to popular will or the interests of broader society, but the patronage of large money blocks, with certain industries preferring one party to the other.

One suspects the reason for the sensitivity within the ranks of the Democratic party water-carriers to the “corporatist” label is that Obamacare is a textbook case. Konczal cleverly tries to undermine this charge by serving up an example of histrionic right-wing messaging: depicting the contraception requirement (PR-wise, the Republican have been big on throwing identity politics into the ACA mix, but they are hardly alone).
Yet Obamacare IS corporatist. Here we have the industries that are significant contributors to why the American medical system is so overpriced – the health insurers and Big Pharma – actually playing a major role in writing the legislation. And how is it not a sop to large companies to have the government require that citizens buy your product or else pay large tax penalties? Mr. Market certainly thought so, for the price of health insurer and drug company stocks jumped the day the ACA passed. And remember, the beneficiaries of Obamacare extend beyond the insurers and pharmaceutical makers. Hospitals, who increasingly engage in oligopoly pricing (most surgeries need to be done in hospitals), also come out even stronger because new requirements imposed on doctors’ practices will make it difficult for a retiring MD who practices medicine, as opposed to servicing the rich (e.g., cosmetic surgeons) to sell their business to anyone other than a hospital.

And the label fits in the banking arena like a glove. I’ve been called both the Bush, but far more often the Obama bank-friendly policies “Mussolini-style corporatism” since 2008, and well before what Konczal claims is the origin of this description, Tim Carney’s book Obamanomics, published November 30, 2009.
We used this expression September 28, 2008, in Mussolini-Style Corporatism in Action: Treasury Conference Call on Bailout Bill to Analysts. And as much as the TARP was a Bush creation, remember that it was nixed by Congress the first time it was presented. Obama, who was seen as the likely next President, not only supported it, he whipped aggressively for it. So TARP has the fingerprints of both parties all over it....MUCH MORE
The thing I learned from the Mike Konzcal piece at The New Republic is how silly he looks trying to argue that "no, really, the emperor does have clothes on".
Good grief.
"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power. "
-B. Mussolini via BrainyQuote
We've been circling this kind of stuff for years. In 2008's "Hank Paulson, George Washington and Benito Mussolini Walk Into a Bar: Part I" we looked at Machiavelli's Discourses on the First 10 Books of Titus Livy
2009 saw "Newsweek: Goldman Supplied 9 Pages of Proposed Changes to Derivatives Legislation (GS)".
2010 had "The Left Right Paradigm is Over: Its You vs. [Big] Corporations"
"President Obama Examines John Boehner’s New Tanning Bed at General Electric Factory" (GE)
Here's a gentle poke at the Speaker.
Because at Climateer Investing we're nothing if not equal opportunity,
We'll be back with more on the new chairman of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
His record at GE, the destruction of shareholder wealth, the shipping jobs to China programs, the bailouts and guarantees, crony capitalism, Mussolini style corporatism and power elites, the 3.6% tax rate, subsidies and Davos, all in good fun, of course
"Blaming Capitalism for Corporatism"
...One of the authors has some of those Nobel tchotchkes. 
2013's "Blueprint For America: 'Fascist Italy's Experiment With Economic Corporatism'" had links to the above and to:
There's Pollution and There's: Führer Flatus
Scent of a Führer
Hitler wanted to control the world. But he couldn't even control his flatulence.
Guests at the Berghof, Hitler’s private chalet in the Bavarian Alps, must have endured some unpleasant odors in the otherwise healthful mountain air.
Mussolini and Hitler
The dictator who smelt it, dealt it.