Monday, March 30, 2009

Slouching towards corporatism 

A few weeks ago I wrote a post on corporatism and our long march towards its modern European example. Discouraged to find that post is #2 on a Google search of "corporatism Europe" -- fame is nice, but can I be the only one seeing it? Thankfully no; Jonah Goldberg sees it too.
FDR may have talked a good game about going after �economic royalists,� and he did love confiscatory personal income taxes. But he and his Brain Trust also loved cartels, big businesses, and other �big units� of society. The notion that big business and big government are at war with one another is one of the great enduring myths of the 20th century. The truth is that ever since Teddy Roosevelt abandoned his love of trust-busting, progressives have liked big businesses big, really big. The bigger the business, the more reliable the partner for big government.

That�s why any huge corporation that plays ball on health care, or �green jobs,� or countless other initiatives, is hailed as a �forward-thinking� or �progressive� company. Companies such as GE, which stands to make billions from Obama�s energy proposals, are vital sidekicks in the new era of public-private partnerships. Why is Obama working tirelessly to save Detroit automakers? Because GM is a wonderful poster boy for peddling nationalized health care, and UAW is an indispensable cog in the Democratic Party.
Douglas Carswell MP writes of his country's infatuation with independent commissions and watchdog groups instead of relying on party politics:

For democrats like me, there's no point in explaining that the idea of disinterested technocrats is an illusion, and that no such person exists. Or that deference to supposed "experts" makes it much more difficult to recognise and correct failures. There's no point in saying that leaving it to "experts" was precisely what happened with child protection in Haringey. Or with the Bank of England setting interest rates too low for too long.

[U]nless we restore confidence to the Westminster system, people are going to end up preferring a technocracy that is technically inept to a democracy that excludes the people. We�re already half way there.

A CEO goes to a meeting in a government building in DC and is told that the only way his firm can get government assistance which, since the government helped destroy financial markets, is the only way a firm his size can get any kind of debtor-in-possession financing to get through bankruptcy -- the only way his firm can survive will require him to sacrifice himself. You might wish to argue that they shouldn't have taken the money they already got, but please tell me what the difference is between nationalization of a carmaker and a government firing the head of a carmaking firm? Yet it makes perfect sense in a corporatist world.

It is not, as John Hinderaker argued this evening, that Obama wants to run the car companies. Far from it: he's quite content to have technocrats in charge that call on government for protection from upstarts and who will pay obeisance in cash and ballots. What he wants instead is a unification of the people and of corporations towards a greater good. A "rationalized" system, as Goldberg points out, that compels a million small businesses to follow a national plan, incurring costs that choke the life out of the small business and leave the bigger sticks all alone. A bundle of sticks tied together for a common purpose.

Hmmm, "bundle of sticks." Seems I've heard that before.