Why Ron Paul is a Corporate Candidate

“And its spent for very special reasons because corporations end up controlling the government.”  Ron Paul (via LewRockwell) on overseas spending.

For a serious candidate to say something like this is flooring.  How very natural for Ron Paul to assume the role of rebel candidate, opposed to the corporate forces that are censoring him.

But is he really for people first?  When the chips are down will Ron Paul side with us or with the multinationals?

Neither.  And the end effect of this is not unlike a zookeeper staying out of a dispute between a bengal tiger and a toddler.  Who do you think has the power advantage?  In effect Ron Paul’s policies would let corporations run wild.

As Thom Hartman notes (via Sara, emphasis mine):

The first myth Hartmann wants us to puncture is the myth of the free market, which has been elevated to the level of a religion. He invoked Grover Norquist — who famously said that he wanted to shrink government down to where he could drag it into the bathtub and drown it — and noted that New Orleans was what ended up getting drowned instead.

“Why does the Bush administration replace competent people with ideologues?” asked Hartmann. The answer lies in the essence of the conservative worldview. Conservatives believe that corporations are morally neutral; but human beings are essentially evil. Given that equation, it’s obvious that corporations are thus morally superior to human beings, and thus should be given greater rights and dominance. Government, on the other hand, expresses the will of the people — and since people are inherently evil, government is inherently evil as well.

Liberals, on the other hand, generally agree on the moral neutrality of corporations; but they believe that people are fundamentally good. “This is the fundamental cleavage between these two world views,” notes Hartmann, pointing out that this worldview is clearly reflected in the preamble to the Constitution. “Our founders’ six stated purposes reflect this belief — that government exists to lift people up to their highest potential.” We provide for the common defense in order to protect ourselves from the handful of bad apples in the bunch; but the rest of the document, asserts Hartmann, is about maximizing human opportunity.

On the other hand: “The free market is just a euphemism for large multinational corporations controlling the planet,” he concluded.

The appeal to a market utterly free of regulations and limits, the libertarian ideal, is a world where might makes right.  What must be understood is that this world has existed before.  As amor mundi observes (emphasis mine):

Ron Paul looks to me like the oldest story in the 20th Century American playbook: yet another market fundamentalist libertopian who believes civil libertarianism is compatible with corporate capitalism. If that is the new “21st Century Democracy” then the facile “friendly fascism” peddled to earnest saucer-eyed privileged Americans by Ayn Rand (“America’s Persecuted Minority: Big Business”), Ronald Reagan (“Government Is the Problem”), Bush I (“The New World Order”), Clinton (“The Era of Big Government Is Over,” NAFTA, workfare, deregulation), Bush II (“Our MBA President,” PNAC, the Unitary Executive) then the new 21st Century democracy looks an awful lot like the old Robber Baron “democracy” to me, but this time with the tools at its disposal to render the planet an uninhabitable radioactive, Greenhouse, pandemic sewer of goo.

There is a fundamental disconnect between an anti-corporation stance and support for the free market.  You cannot be both.  If you are truly going to stand up to the abuses of large multinationals, then you are talking about regulating the market.  If you are going to let those multinationals continue without any checks to their power, you are at the very least unworthy of the anti-corporate populist mantel.

Ron Paul isn’t so much against a corporate state as he is against the state.  If companies want to spend those same vast somes on “overseas spending”, would he regulate away the free market to prevent it?  Or does the same action, if performed by individuals acting under the auspices of a corporate entity suddenly become unethical once it is government in the driver’s seat?

If Ron Paul were to win, he may very well act to decrease the influence of corporations on government.  He would also reduce government to such an extend that corporations would no longer need to influence government to run the world their way.

The government envisioned when this country was founded, was one of the people, for the people, and by the people.  To stand up to the corporations and politicians who have perverted that is noble, but the solution to a leaky roof isn’t to tear down the house and sleep in the rain.  The solution is to either fix the damn roof, or build a better house.

We need to take our government back, and Ron Paul is not the candidate to help us do that.  He’ll just crumple it up and throw it in the circular suggestion box.


54 Responses

  1. Yes, just look at all that Corporate Money flowing into his campaign. It’s obvious that he’s the candidate that’s cashing in on the cozy Corporate/Congress relationship that will utimately corrupt the fine, honor-bound institution that is our Congress.

    What color is the sky in your world? In case you haven’t noticed, the Corporations are already running the country exactly the way they want to!

    FDA cracking down on ephidrine while allowing a brand new OTC diet drug? NAFTA?

    Wake up already.

  2. Alexia, so his positions don’t matter at all as long as he isn’t taking campaign money from corporations?
    Corporations do have a lot of power now, yes. But how do you think utterly removing government from that equation will affect the result?
    Why is Ron Paul so sacrosanct, so beyond criticism?

  3. Yeah, as we make government a lot smaller, we need to get rid of corporations. All businesses should be sole proprietorships. or parnerships of up to seven bona fide human persons. Clubs can exist, but might have to be controlled also. And churches. Maybe, they can be sole proprietorhships. They can sell venture bonds, maybe, to raise money.

    This will keep businesses small.

    I think a small business is a lot cuter than a large corporation, especially and multinational corporation. Without any large multinationals, there can’t be any concerns about what they are doing.

    One problem with small businesses, though, is they are at the whim of the owner and the owner might want to move the company to Seatle all of a sudden, or get religion and drop half the product lines. Maybe they need to be kept really small.

    Maybe a small business might buy something from outside the country, but since the company is small, it can’t buy much. And even if the company gets big, it will have to spit up as the owner retires. So, you won’t have a lot of companies buying over seas, unless it is good for the goals of the many owners.

  4. Corporate “regulation” in our current system is a bit of a conundrum for me. Who regulates corporations? Well, a variety of government agencies. Who staffs those agencies? Oftentimes people who come from those industries. Where do those folks go when they leave government? Often back into the private sector, where they can ply their connections and knowledge of The System into a bigger paycheck. Hence we end up a revolving door of influence peddling that in some industries (say telecommunications, energy, automotive, entertainment, banking, to name a few…) serves to protect the interests of the biggest, most influential players by erecting artificial barriers to competition. Anyone wondering why the government recently accepted the RIAA’s proposed royalty schedule that will bankrupt Internet radio?

    Anyway, the thing I like most about Ron Paul is his expressed distaste for corporate welfare. From my perspective, it seems that government is currently, and increasingly, pro-corporation both in terms of direct government funding as well as leveraging our regulatory systems unfairly to their advantage. Not that regulations aren’t useful in preventing the Tragedy of the Commons, but too many regulations and their accompanying bureaucracies create a system that can will, be gamed to the benefit of the largest players.

    I learned a lot from the movie, Enron, The Smartest Guys in the Room. I was shocked to learn the role that Enron played in the California energy crisis, but not once I saw how government bureaucracy actually made their malfeasance possible (by creating a system that could be gamed), and then did nothing to stop them (through “regulatory” agencies staffed with sympathetic industry insiders.)

    After seeing this pattern of corporate self-dealing and “regulation” repeat itself again and again, I’m more inclined to agree with Ron Paul. He even wrote an essay on the topic. I’m also heartened that he only accepts individual contributions for his campaign.

  5. “…the hate us for our FREEDOMS!”

  6. 3. Bruch,
    The problem is that these rules for proprietorships and such
    all require regulation. So if we make government smaller,
    that aspect of government must remain effective.

    I think the idea of small businesses is interesting, but I like the idea of corporations returning to their original form as temporary charters granted in the public interest.

    4. Barry Day,
    (I dropped the first comment, it looks like you fixed the markup and re-submitted. If I made a mistake, please let me know).

    Your analysis of the problem of our current system of regulation is quite sharp. I like the phrase “revolving door of influence peddling”. That nails it. Ron Paul’s stance against corporate wellfare is indeed very much to be admired. But government can take both sides in its relationship with corporations, nurturing some and punishing others for violating laws and regulations. I can see a strong argument for ending the first part, but to end regulation will in effect strengthen the power and clout of said corporations. And a world with strong corporations and a weak government does not leave individual citizens in a very good spot.

    5. Rudy G,
    What does that even mean? Who is the us, and who is the (I presume you meant “they”) they?

  7. If we are comparing corporate with government power, the estimated total revenue for the biggest corporation in the world – Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. — will be $351.1 billion in 2007.

    In comparison, the US federal government *deficit* for 2007 is estimated to be around $456 billion. This is only the Federal government, excluding all state and local government expenditures, as well as that of foreign countries. In other words, the *deficit* of just the federal portion of our government is more than all of the receipts from the biggest multinational corporation on the planet. If we actually look at total expenditures of the federal government, it totals an estimated $2.8 *trillion* in 2007. This is almost seven and a half times the revenue of Wal-Mart. Approximately 21 percent of our GDP goes to the federal government, or more than one dollar in five.

    Personally, I hate corporate monopolization of power as much as anyone, but you have to admit there is an order of magnitude difference between the U.S. government and even the largest multinationals in the world — and to a large extent, the power the multinationals get is from the federal government transferring our money to them. Shrink the federal government, and you will shrink a large part of corporate power with it.

  8. You misunderstand Paul’s, and most libertarian’s, position…

    Who regulates the market? Congress does. Who has the largest impact on congress? Those with money: Big business and big labor. Who does most of the interference into the market favor? Big business, big labor. The problem is systemic, so Paul sees the only way to correct the system is to re-instate the constitution and prevent congress from being able to pass legislation which benifits big power groups.

    You must understand, established powers never want a free market. Free markets threaten them. The freer the market, the more likely the corporation will succum to competition. The free market is good for workers (more bosses to choose from, more competitive pay) and good for consumers (more products to choose from, more competitive pricing) and bad for the people with a lot of capital. No one with tons of money invested in capital likes the idea that some guy in a garage might invent something that will put him out of business. So he lobbies congress to stop it. Never, to my knowledge, has any established corporation with a large and stable market share ever lobbied for a freer market.

    The free market has NOTHING to do with “might makes right”. The market is something which must be maintained by government (or some agency with force, as is done in other markets like ebay), and government’s largest role in the market is to prevent “might” from being used, whether in the case of physical force or environmental polution. Paul most definitely does not want to reduce the government in this regard.

    Paul is not anti-state or anti-corporation. He is anti-force. He doesn’t like to use government force to tell people how to spend their money, invest their wealth, work, or associate (in business or otherwise). In other words, he is pro-individual.

    It has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with reducing the size of the state just to reduce the size of the state, and everything to do with answering the question “What should government do?”. He very much wants to hold corporations responsible for their actions, and I’ve never seen anything that suggests otherwise.

    To say we need a politician to take our government back is absurd. People have been saying that for likely thousands of years. We’ve never had one in our current system. The system itself is flawed, and therefore must be corrected in order for progress in some areas to take place. The only person who seems to want to fix the system is Dr. Paul.

    If our own government doesn’t follow its own laws, what is left?

  9. Generally I think your criticisms are insightful and valid, if ultimately incorrect. However, this one … is way out there. Alexa pwnt you in comment 1. 🙂

    Obviously all the problems you complain of are because of government collusion with corporations. Ultimately corporations sell crap for money, so it behooves them to maintain a good public opinion of their operation or else they go under. CF Walmart’s attempts to change its image, etc.

    At any rate, the president can hardly wave a wand and turn us all into corporate serfs. Shit, we already are (CF Minimum wage, income tax).

  10. Fitness for the Occasion,

    This is an excellent dialog. I like it. Please bring it into the arena at http://www.ronpaulforums.com


    Why does Ron Paul want to repeal the Federal Reserve Act and abolish the Federal Reserve system?

    Watching this film is like taking a College level course in World Economics and American Civics!
    The Money Masters
    The Money Masters


  11. Have you ever seen the episode of Futurama where Bender becomes God and then meets God? “If you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all. ”

    IMHO That is the role of government vs. corporations. Yes, some regulation is necessary, but most, if not all, could fall under current health, property, etc. laws. How will a corporation run things when they do not have the right to pollute your air because it damages your property? How will a corporation maintain their dominance when a thousand small business are allowed into the market by relaxing of regulations that serve as an artificial barrier to entry?

    I wonder if he would also support the de-personing of the corporate entity. Corporations are not people, and the responsibility for the actions of a corporation should fall upon the real people who make those decisions. Limited liability for shareholders? Sure. Limited liability for CEO’s. I don’t think so.

  12. This entire debate shows the amazing, almost magical ability of liberty haters to ignore the issue of violence. A corporation in league with government is a corporation using violence (governmentt) to gain an advantage. A free market is a market where no one is using violence. The liberty-haters refuse to acknowledge that difference because what they really want is to use the violence of government themselves to rob the honestly-rich so they can get lots of free stuff from the government. So their enemy becomes corporations, not government. The superstition that rich corporations would be able to hurt you if they did not have the backing of government violence is beyond silly. How can a rich man harm you, by throwing money at you?

  13. I would challange anyone who is negative about corporations to say what is wrong with them. In every case they will end up saying what is wrong with government (force) and be unable to say what is wrong with corporations. Corporations grow big because they are poplular. They are popular because they SERVE so many people so well.

    The idea that thugs with guns, who make their living by means of an extortion racket (government) must “balance” the “power” of popular customer-servers is insane. Economic “power” is the power to please or reward. Government power is the power to punish and bully. Suggesting that the power to serve must be balanced and controlled by the power to punish is beyond insane.

  14. I think it also should be pointed out that it’s not corporations, multinationals or no, that are declaring wars on other states, bombing people, etc.

    Any instance that you name of a corporation oppressing the indigenous population ultimately boils down to corporatist collusion with the local government (I’m thinking of Iran pre-1979, modern Nigeria, etc). There is definitely a difference.

  15. May I call you Fitness? Fitness, if you had been following this Ron Paul thing more closely, you would have appreciated the comment by “Rudy G” (doesn’t that sound like someone you’ve heard of?) and his wicked sense of humor. Great discussion.

  16. The problem with so many of the commets here is that they reflect a complete lack of understanding. Dr. Paul is running for an office of the FEDERAL government. The Federqal government has a very limited scope of authorities. Dr. Paul is not running for a State’s elective office.

    If you want to understand Dr. Paul read the Constitution of thse uS. The Federal authority over INTERSTATE commerce are issues of: uniform weights and measures and common currency,.

  17. Sorry for my typos above.

    A question for those that claim that government is required to keep corporations in a leash:

    In what way is a government unlike a corporation, other than that government claims to monopoly of force? If corporations are evil so are governments. Both are composed of people who appoint other people to run things.

  18. Let me explain to you how this works: you see, the corporations finance Team America, and then Team America goes out… and the corporations sit there in their… in their corporation buildings, and… and, and see, they’re all corporation-y… and they make money.

  19. This is a ridiculous piece. We have government regulation now and proponents of this regulation which has, instead of keeping corporations in check, allowed them to use these regulations to stifle competition, apparently think that more regulation will make things better.

    What’s the definition of insanity?

    The fact is, Ron Paul advocates removing regulation which puts up barriers against competitors in various markets, and use the government to protect rights rather than to protect markets.

    Government has a legitimate role in defending consumers from fraud and crimes committed by corporations. It has no legitimate role in preventing small businesses from competing against these corporations.

  20. I would challange anyone who is negative about corporations to say what is wrong with them.

    John, what is wrong with corporations is that they are quasi government entities. They are given protections that the rest of the population does not receive. They are given “authority” to act where no such power to regulate exists under the various state and federal constitutions.

  21. The author’s argument is ironic, given that big government as we know it in the United States originated in the desire for big business to gain at the expense of society.

    This can be traced all the way back to the Hamiltonians of the founding generation, who wanted corporate welfare for “internal improvements.” It was for precisely this reason that they favored a more powerful central authority than the Jeffersonians.

    The regulatory regime crafted by the progressives of the 20th century was also supported by big business, which saw in the costs of compliance a favorable barrier to entry by upstart competitors with less capital to spend. And antitrust prosecutions have always been instigated by jealous businessmen against their more successful competitors.

    The author:
    “The government envisioned when this country was founded, was one of the people, for the people, and by the people.”

    That wasn’t the founding fathers. It was Lincoln — another corporate welfarist and Hamiltonian standard-bearer. The sentiment is nice but Lincoln hardly believed in government by consent. Consent or die was more like it.

  22. Its amazing to me that as soon as intelligent libertarians versed in economics show up, the “socialists” dissapear. Those “liberty-haters” or those hostile to the free market, betray themselves again and again as bitter, uninformed sentimentalists. Bluntly, they have no Idea what they’re talking about, and they of course ignore the all paramount issue of aggressive violence because to acknowledge it would be to admit the repugnant nature of their ideology, with all of its bizzare contradictions between “means” and “ends”, even after history has revealed this to us time and again.

  23. I wonder what would happen to multi-nationals if all the subsidies were taken away? Also with non-interventionism wouldn’t companies be less likely to outscource if they moved to other countries with no gurantee of protection? Also Wal-Mart recieves subsidies through transportation of goods, tax breaks, ect. If small businesses were given the same tax breaks, and the subsidies were eliminated, other businesses would be able to compete with these larger companies. Also if patents were brought under control healthcare costs would drop, and Microsoft would have greater competition. All of these (subsidies, intervention, uneven tax breaks, patents, ect.) are examples of government force in the market.

  24. “We need to take our government back, and Ron Paul is not the candidate to help us do that. He’ll just crumple it up and throw it in the circular suggestion box.”

    He’s the ONLY candidate that will hand your government back to you. Who runs your city right now? Are you capable of managing your city or county affairs? If you’re not involved in the problem-solving activities at your municipal level, then you don’t even have any idea what the problems are and how they should be solved. What Ron Paul’s going to do is get the federal government out of the way and let you and your city councils and state legislatures solve the problems for your own state. That means keeping all your tax dollars right there at home, and giving each and every one of you with any concern for solutions to your problems the incentive to get into a position to make sure those local/state tax dollars are spent wisely. THAT’s the epitome of taking back your government.

  25. >There is a fundamental disconnect between an anti-corporation
    > stance and support for the free market. You cannot be both.
    Then may I have a completely free market please. I’m getting screwed so badly by the current setup that I can’t walk. (And I’m male!) The gooferment has robbed us blind. Kileld us when we object. I can’t envision a free market being any worse. I know how bad it is now; anything is an improvement.
    Ferdinand J. Reinke
    My blog => http://www.reinkefaceslife.com/

  26. TO POST # 20:

    You correct me repeating my point.

    I made clear that it is not corporations that are the problem, but the coercive power of government that they benefit from. You correct me by saying no, the problem with corporations is the coercive power of goverment they benefit from.

  27. #19 Government protections against fraud and crtime are within the scope of the State governments, and is not the Federal government’s business.

    Go Ron go.

  28. To the contrary, corporations want big government, market controls and corporate welfare. Why, because these policies protect their position in the market place while stiffling possible compitition. There is a reason these Corporations spends billions a year lobbying the Congress and Whitehouse. It is called protection. They know that our current system is not truly a free market, if it were then their corporation would be defenseless against the next bozo with a better idea. This is why they want to end net nutrality, control free speech on the web, and kill the alternative media. The mainstream media is in a ratings downspin, people are tired of their lies and are now getting their news from other outlets. So surprisingly, what do they do, they support tony blair 2 weeks ago when he called for controlling blogs. The internet is the last free market around, there is a reason AOL would be bankrupt if they didn’t force that god awful merger with timewarner, something better came along. There is a reason that digg.com, the drugereport.com and prisonplanet.com are rivaling readership levels seen at mainstream websites, it is because the people now have a choice. Free Markets breed compitition and keep businesses on their heels, leading to better products and prices. Market controls do the opposite, Corporations love market controls because they protect their interest.

  29. […] Why Ron Paul is a Corporate Candidate “And its spent for very special reasons because corporations end up controlling the government.”  Ron Paul […] […]

  30. Corporations in the US are not chartered by the Federal Government, but by the States. Thus, a corporation titles itself as “XXX, a Delaware Corporation” when it is chartered under the statutes of Delaware.

    There are things that can be done at the Federal level, however, given the mandate given to Congress in the Constitution to regulate interstate commerce, namely:
    1. Repeal the “Business Judgment Rule”, and make corporate directors personally liable for their role in decisionmaking where such decisions cause harm to others or to the property of others; and
    2. Create legislation, perhaps a Constitutional Amendment, that would deny Constitutional protection to “Artificial Persons” as defined by the Supreme Court, to wit:
    “SECTION 1. The U.S. Constitution protects only the rights of living human beings.

    SECTION 2. Corporations and other institutions granted the privilege to exist shall be subordinate to any and all laws enacted by citizens and their elected governments.

    SECTION 3. Corporations and other for-profit institutions are prohibited from attempting to influence the outcome of elections, legislation or government policy through the use of aggregate resources or by rewarding or repaying employees or directors to exert such influence.

    SECTION 4. Congress shall have power to implement this article by appropriate legislation.”
    (from http://reclaimdemocracy.org/personhood/index.html)

    3. Limit the existence of corporate charters to twenty-one years beyond a life existing at the grant of the corporate charter (in other words, apply the Rule Against Perpetuities to corporations), require corporations to state that they will obey the laws in whatever jurisdiction they choose to do business, and allow a private right of action against corporations, for damages and for revocation of the charter for violations thereof.

  31. This is just about the silliest comment I’ve ever heard. Ron Paul is anti-corporatist (which includes that big corporation known as the US government and all the others subsidized by corporate welfare).

  32. To #28

    Quite right. As long as there is a gunslinger in the economy (government), the poor will try to hire him to steal from the rich and the rich will hire him to restrict competition and mandate trade. The key to sanity is to get the gunslinger out of the economy. Otherwise, it becomes a gunslinger (government) economy, not a free economy, and the corporations will outbid the poor for the services of the gunslingers. What? We’re there now?

  33. Our original author wrote:

    “The appeal to a market utterly free of regulations and limits, the libertarian ideal, is a world where might makes right. ”

    This is the error of confusing economic power with coersive power. They are opposites. A market free of coersion is exactly the opposite of might (coercion) making right. It is free trading choices making right.

    Surely it is not so hard to see the difference between a man with a gun and a man with a dollar. Are you really afraid of them equally?

    As for “might makes right”, that is the definition of democracy and is why the founders were opposed to democracy.

  34. I don’t know what to say… People with power, money and lobbyists use the government to make laws and regulations that benefit them at our expense. You finally have the opportunity to help dismantle this evil partnership and you’re going to sit it out pining for an impossible ideal.

    It’s always the same. Left and right hope for a world where they have the power, and fret about too much freedom. Give it a chance! Ron Paul is the best opportunity any of us have had.

  35. Ah.. but there is hope for you yet! I used to think the exact same thing. I sincerely hope I don’t come across as condescending, because I truly believe in the positive nature of this message. While I completely understand your view of “evil corporate power,” I think your premise about where that power comes from is mistaken. People need to take a good, hard honest look at what big government does to empower coporate monopolies. All the subsidizing, coporate welfare, tax breaks, etc. etc.. The corporate power you are witnessing now, is as powerful as it is, NOT because government hasn’t stepped in to take them down a peg or two, but because they are both in bed together. This is the truth. Without big government’s help, these multinationals would have to fend for themselves in the free market, and many of them would find themselves up the proverbial creek. Secondly, and finally, I do believe you’ve got it backwards. The traditional conservative (ie: NOT neo-con) view of human beings is that we are all inherently good, and is why they support less government and more individual freedoms. The liberal mindset is that human beings are bad, and therefore must be regulated. I know to someone who disagrees, this might seem a glaring absurdity, but please, give it some thought. What is socialism except for a completely regulated life, everything from where you work, to what to eat, to where your money goes is already decided for you whether you want it or not. That is freedom? I think not. http://www.ronpaul2008.com

  36. Paul’s plan isn’t to allow unregulated business practices. It’s to shift the responsibility of that regulation to the states, where it belongs.

    The main point here is that our current system doesn’t work because there is too much corporate money flowing into Congress. Mr Fitness seems clueless about the fact that none of that money is steered to Dr. Paul. That alone should have given him a clue that his theory is somehow flawed.

    I’m a firm believer in the free market, but even I’m not going to spout something that makes corporations seem like saviors. I can cite plenty of examples of corporate abuses. Company store, anyone?

    Business would still need to be legislated on a state level. If the unions could get their corrupt heads out of their corrupt butts, I think they have an important role to play, too.(I deviate from the Paulians there – it can be done!)

    But I still maintain the corporations are already running things exactly the way they want to. 4 healthcare lobbyists for every member of Congress? (And yet none of them stop in at the Dr Ron Paul, M.D. office. Go figure)

    Government works best when it’s small.

    You might scoff at the thought of returning our monetary system to a currency that is actually backed by a commodity, but if our ultimae goal is to make the poor richer by making the rich poorer, that’s where we have to start. That’s the true first major step in eliminating the corporatism that has all but destroyed the free market.

    Like another poster suggested, go watch “The Money Masters” out on Google video. You have to start there to understand where Paul and his supporters are coming from.

  37. Lol, whenever I read this kind of bullshit “free market myth” I can’t help but laugh when I remember “progressive” programs like NYC rent control and Jimmy Carter oil policy.
    The biggest myth is that a large central government can assess externalities and spend our money efficiently. And even if they could, you’d still have to get over the Game Theory problem, that large central governments do not operate in the best interests of the country.
    So many ignorant people. Thank you US indoctrination centers(public school monopoly).

  38. 7. Mike,
    Another difference, besides financial power, is where they derive legitimacy. Government is supposed to derive its legitimacy from the people. It is supposed to be our collective voice and action. Corporations report to private owners and/or shareholders.

    While some government shrinking is good, I’m just wary about going overboard, especially when it comes to oversight.

    8. G,
    The problem is systemic, and simply restricting regulation that benefits big power groups is an interesting and worthwhile proposal.

    I suppose we come down to a question of what makes a market free. If large corporations cannot exist and exert power, then government is regulating the market. On the other hand, if government does not regulate the market, large corporations will monopolize it (and hence it will not be free or competitive at all). So maybe in practice a free market is impossible.

    As it stands, an unregulated market allows might makes right to flourish. Just look at the robber barons.

    Using government force against individuals is one thing, but opposing government force against corporations is another matter worth putting some time into.

    Lots of people want to fix the system, but what they replace it with is a very important point.

    9. bret,
    Thanks, but Alexa didn’t address my argument. She picked an unrelated point, and made it (where Paul gets his money).

    Some of the problems I note are the result of collusion, some are not.
    But I’ll gladly join you in fighting corporate serfdom.

    10. goldenequity,
    Thanks. You are more than welcome to start that thread.

    11. Joel,
    I Vaguely recall it. I’ve actually got the one where Bender sneaks into Fry’s tent and circles around whimpering like a dog before lying down stuck in my head at the moment. Heh.

    If our legal system wasn’t both full of holes, and lopsided towards wealth, I could see your argument making a whole lot of sense.

    The de-personing of the corporate entity would be a fascinating topic to have any candidate enter into the discourse! I wonder that too. Great question.

    12. John Reading,
    Corporations use violence on their own all the time. They do it when they dump cancer causing agents into ground water. They do it when they have lkocal organizers shot in third world countries. You don’t need governments for violence, and getting rid of governments will not get rid of violence.

    To say that I hate liberty is ridiculous, by the by. Your question “How can a rich man harm you, by throwing money at you?” is incredibly naive. He could throw money at another man and say “Hurt that guy”. And with no one to say “this is not allowed, we will stop you”, who will protect “that guy” from violence?

    13. John Howard,
    There is very little wrong a priori with corporations save their status as people as opposed to temporary legal entities granted by the state for the public interest (original flavor, as it were). What it comes down to is that corporations exist for profit, and this sometimes leads corporations to do bad things to people. Like Enron, for example. Or Shell Oil.

    Corporations grow for a number of reasons. Take Microsoft. It is generally a mix of popularity, leveraging existing power, tackling competitors, large investments from outside interests, etc. Corporations aren’t these jolly green giants that grow on love in the form of consumer confidence.

    Economic power can provide the power to punish and bully. You could say the one drives the other. I am saying you must somehow stop the bullying. You cannot hide your head under the libertarian sand and ignore the fact that corporations do occasionally act violently towards people. There needs to be a way to protect people.

    14. Bret,
    Corporations occasionally involve themselves with smaller conflicts, ally themselves with warlords, and aide despotic governments. If there’s a buck to be made…

    I don’t know about every instance, but yes, I’d definitely grant that the vast majority of them are about collusion between government and corporation. However does this condemn government itself, or just the corrupt institution the corporation is taking advantage of?

    15. Dwight,
    But of course sir. Giuliani is a real piece of work. Thankfully I think he is going to tank soon. A crass comment like that is one of many marks of a desperate campaign.

    16. Jaime,
    Ok, everybody? Read the Constitution. Done? Good, let’s resume.
    (Could you be a touch more specific Jaime?)

    17. Jaime,
    No worries. I have a typo in a section that got quoted!(Which really sucks).

    Corporations, like governments, can be evil. The question is how to structure both to minimize said evil, and provide some manner of dealing with it when it does crop up.

    18. Tim Robbins,
    Sniff. That was damn eloquent. Thank you Mr Robbins.
    I’m crying right now.

    19. Rick Fisk,
    Hmm, Damned if you do regulate, damned if you don’t? Only if you view the world in black and white. There is good regulation, and weak ineffective regulation moderated by the corporations you are supposed to be regulating! It is a question of the quality, not the quantity of the regulation. We have more of a choice between corporations now, and corporations around the turn of the last century.

    20. Rick Fisk,
    Agreed, to an extent. Originally it was a way for people to protect investments, but its gotten way out of hand. With the vast sums of resources they can accumulate, they end up creating their own “authority”.

    21. Robert Brazil,
    Not so. I am not for “big government”. I am for good government. And that desire comes from our natural gravitation towards having a meaningful say in our own lives.

    While that quote was from Lincoln, that sentiment and principle has been a part of our history for quite some time. Jefferson is a very good example.

    22. Jordan,
    Who has disappeared? I just work during the day, and usually only have time to swing in and approve comments caught up the queue. I wouldn’t say I’m a complete socialist, but I do have more sympathies in that direction than libertarianism. (Although upon good argument I am open to change).

    There are no “liberty haters” here save in your ad-hominems. So let’s skip right to your argument. Oh wait, where is it? Before or after the paragraph saying “socialists are ignorant stupid liberty-haters”?

    23. Adam Miller,
    Very good questions. I don’t know about patents bringing down health care costs though. But if we brought patents under control (changing, not eliminating regulation), provided universal health care (which is cheaper and more effective, socialist idea here), and evened out tax breaks (changing tax policy, not eliminating taxes), and chopped up subsidies (removing government intrusion into the market), I think we would see some very interesting economic effects!

    24. Chris,
    Heh, no need for a government hand-out Chris.

    Not being involved in local government does not invalidate one’s voice or opinion, and there is no reason it should. You can have an idea, more than an idea, knowledge, of what needs to be done without joining the school board.

    That sounds kind of great, until you realize that “all those tax dollars at home” will do jack shit for the poor, that leaving everything up to the states means no consistency for basic human rights state to state. That’s not taking back our government, it is destroying part of it.

    25. reinkefj,
    How are you getting screwed? By actually having to pay taxes? Imagine no government regulation of corporations. None. What do you think will happen to the price of food? How about real estate. Truth in advertising? Adhering to contracts? Adhering to any consumer protection laws at all?

    26. John Howard,
    Rick’s point (#20) actually simply cuts to the problem of authority without legitimacy. You can have that without government granted a corporation the right to exist.

    27. Jaime,
    Why shouldn’t protections be universal?

    28. Brandon,
    Corporations are fine with big government if and only if they control it, otherwise it terrifies them. They are fine with no government too, since they have free reign.

    The current system is corrupt, and lobbying is a big part of that. I am with you in wanting to end it. But take net neutrality. There is nothing protecting that neutrality. The big communications companies are simply not yet acting against it. Hence the whole push for a federal law that would protect it. Net Neutrality is a prime example of government regulation protecting citizens against corporate abuse.

    Markets Free of government regulation can produce competition, or they can produce monopolies. Nothing to stop it. In the past, this was an issue.

    Corporations love market controls that benefit them, and hate market controls that limit them. They aren’t just blanketly for or against market controls. That doesn’t make any sense.

    With no market controls whatsoever, some corporations would abuse their power. It has happened before.

    Ok, taking a breather to post this much.

  39. Fitness says;

    “If large corporations cannot exist and exert power, then government is regulating the market.”

    Assuming what you are trying to prove, logical fallacy #1. You are leaving out the possibility that competition could lend some practical limit to size, while consumers themselves lcan limit its power.

    ” On the other hand, if government does not regulate the market, large corporations will monopolize it (and hence it will not be free or competitive at all).”

    Really? So where did the Bell System monopoly come from? How about Microsoft’s monopoly (supported by patents and copyrights)? How about the media monopolies, where did their privileged positions in broadcast TV come from?

    “So maybe in practice a free market is impossible.”

    Wrong. A truly free market represents a constant threat to the power of the elites. This is why they consistently try to thwart it – to favor their own interests using the cudgel of government.

  40. 30. stream47,
    Thanks, very informative. But the question is also “what should federal government be able to regulate”. Additionally, case law determines what the federal government can and cannot do.

    31. B Chen,
    Just saying “Nuh-uh!” isn’t much of an argument.

    32. John Howard,
    Or, we could bring in a sheriff instead of a gunslinger.

    33. John Howard,
    Economic power IS coercive power. You can use investments to empower some people and businesses over others. You can pay people to coerce other people. To separate the two misses the reality of the situation.

    Democracy is “The majority makes right”, which is why we have rules to protect the minority agains the tyranny of the majority, rather than complete opposition to democracy itself.

    34. Brian,
    Who is pining for the impossible? Ron Paul is a salesman, and he has you hook line and sinker. He is selling anti-corporate state feel good oil, and what you’ll get is an America lacking basic protections and rights, lacking basic social infrastructures, where the rich and powerful are free from federal consequences.

    35. Andrew76,
    Yes, they are both in bed together. But when government gets out of bed and leaves the house, the corporations are going to screw us blind.

    I can see both arguments for whether people are good or bad. Personally, I believe firmly that people are inherently selfish (which is neither good nor bad, just selfish), with rare exceptions. I think we must appeal towards people’s better natures, but be prepared for their darker side.

    You idea of socialism seems more than a little bit off. Socialism can just be a recognition of the fact that we can go farther if we help each other out. This cooperation need not eliminate competition, but it would transform the nature of competition.

    36. Alexia,
    In shifting the responsibility to the states, won’t all the same problems follow along? All you lose is the universality of protection federal level regulation can bring.

    The fact that the money doesn’t go to Paul isn’t something I am clueless about. It is a fact that in no way makes your point. Red herrings are hardly insightful or persuasive.

    I agree with you on the Unions.

    It isn’t the size, but the nature of government that determines how well it works.

    37. Nate,
    Why are large central governments such boogeymen? Why are private enterprises so saintly in comparison? Its about good government, not less government. It is about protecting rights, not leaving corporations to do whatever they damn well please.

  41. 39. Vince D,
    Yes, competition and consumers can limit a corporations power. But not always, and not always to the same extent when they do manage to have an impact.

    Monopolies come about with whatever loophole or opportunity a corporation seizes. Do you honestly believe that with no government regulation, the same companies that chose to monopolize rather than compete honestly would suddenly stop in their tracks?

    A truly free market would be free of both corporate control and government regulation. One, I do not see how you can have both freedoms at once, not have you in any way proved that you can. Two, without government regulation, smaller corporations can freely screw over individuals, and move on to new victims with nothing to stop them save “the market”. Which might eventually cause them to close up shop, but how many people would have been harmed, and what redress would they have?

  42. A sherriff is a gunslinger. To condemn the rich for the evil which is possible to them is absurd. If they do not do violence, then they are innocent. If they do, then they are not. Doing violence is not part of the definition of a corporation and is irrelevant to a discussion of the morality of corporations. It is not, however irrelevant to the definition of government.

  43. 42. John Howard,
    The question is why exclusively trash bad government rather than replacing it with good government?

    Wealth is relevant to the capacity and impact of violence.

    When corporations hurt people it hurts a LOT. Just like when governments hurt people, it hurts a lot more than an individual could inflict.

    If a corporation is structured to allow violence, then that is an issue we need to take up.

  44. Fitness, no doubt there are companies formed every day with the intent to sucker in a bunch of customers, take their money, and run like the wind. But we have that now, government or no, do we not – remember Enron?

    The vast majority of businesses, however, are formed with two dicta in mind;
    1) Make money
    2) Stay in business

    It stretches credulity to imagine they could achieve #1 except at the expense of #2, even absent government regulation.

    To reiterate, monopoly is only possible through government intervention, particularly in the early stages of an industry. Absent government force, a company that attempted to benefit financially from a monopoly would soon have a great number of competitors breathing down its neck, chasing those same elusive monopoly profits.

    There has never been a showing in any antitrust case that this kind of monopoly power has been wielded except when government gives it force, not one. The breakup of Standard Oil’s monopoly occurred despite absolutely no finding that Standard oil ever exploited a monopoly advantage to raise prices, not one. Same with IBM’s antitrust case, a pathetic joke upon reflection.

    Let’s tick off a few monopolies;

    Microsoft – not really a monopoly, has never been able to meaningfully raise its prices, is only technically a quasi-monopoly because of the federal patent and copyright system that disadvantages smaller, lower-cost competitors

    The Baby Bells – federally-regulated controllers of local wirelines. A dying business model, that is starting to move them away from dependence on government monopoly, though, Verizon, again, using monopoly power (patents again) to run Vonage out of business.

    USPS- enough said

    Broadcast TV and radio – FCC Licensing

    Cable TV – State and federal regulation

    Electricity – state PUCs are hammocks for departing state legislatures, very cozy

    Government in general – free of the market test, failure is rewarded.

  45. Fitness, just one more question. What is it you mean by corporations “hurting” people? Last I checked, the only ways they could hurt people were either illegal, subject to tort, or shielded from law or tort by government.

    Government, on the other hand, hurts people (e.g., 600,000 plus dead Iraqis and counting, millions more displaced, injured, financially ruined) at a rate unimaginable by ANY CORPORATION (e.g., “The Black Book Of Communism).

    You seem to be advocating a sort of “Mexican Standoff”, a Cold War of sorts, where two equally evil, equally-armed rivals keep each other at bay by a kind of ‘mutually-assured destruction’. That formulation was evil then, it’s evil now, and it empoorens even the poorest man.

    If we are going to vote one evil off the island, I vote “government”. I’m willing to take my chances with corporations unprotected by government ‘regulation’.

  46. “I don’t know about patents bringing down health care costs though.”

    I was referring to drug costs with patents. Patents, giving the drug companies monopoly power on there products. This practice has killed many people in Africa suffering from AIDS who are forbidden to make cheaper generic drugs. Without the patent, or less time for the patent the market could have created cheaper generic drugs for people in Africa.

    “provided universal health care (which is cheaper and more effective, socialist idea here)”

    I have yet to see a proposal for universal healthcare that looks appealing to me. I tend to use prevenative medicine for myself (herbs, massage, ect.) whenever possible. Every universal healthcare program I’ve seen excludes most alternative medicine and only covers the most expensive treatments. They all seem to take the one size fits all approach (public schools, NCLB). I’d rather have choices. I don’t have insurance right now, but I would love to have an MSA, or preferably decreased taxes to cover my costs. Unless you could show me a program that could take these into consideration. The market seems to address my problems better than anything I’ve seen put out there.

    “and evened out tax breaks (changing tax policy, not eliminating taxes)”

    Why not eliminate the taxes? If you get rid of corporate welfare, subsidies, foreign interventionism, this would decrease the budget. Are you saying that you would advocate just transferring the budget cuts to other areas in the government and expand there power elswhere?

    “and chopped up subsidies (removing government intrusion into the market),”

    I would love to see all goverment intrusion taken out of the market. Seperation of business and state.

  47. 34. Brian,
    Who is pining for the impossible? Ron Paul is a salesman, and he has you hook line and sinker. He is selling anti-corporate state feel good oil, and what you’ll get is an America lacking basic protections and rights, lacking basic social infrastructures, where the rich and powerful are free from federal consequences.

    I need nothing more than the most basic protections and rights, and that’s what he offers to try to implement. We both can already see the current situation is harmful. You think that a RP philosophy of government would make the situation worse. I think that anything leads inevitably to the current situation and beyond.

  48. Er, “I think that anything else leads inevitably to the current situation and beyond.”

  49. “Why shouldn’t protections be universal?”

    I presume tht by universal you mean the several States in union.

    The answer is: because the compact among the States, the Constitution, grants only a limited set of authorities to the Central government. Amend the charter to cover those areas that you think are lacking.

  50. fitnessfortheoccasion : Whoooo boy. You are a busy fellar.

    Corporations are an artificial legal entity. Nothing requires a government to “create” them.

  51. 44. Vince D,
    Your views on monopoly are interesting.
    If there was no such thing as patents or copyrights, yes, monopoly would be tough. However you can still have monopolies using existing power as a leverage. For example, becoming the largest supplier of good through honest service, then turning around and only selling to companies that meet your demands for pricing and availability. Walmart is an interesting example of this kind of business.

    The problem with the idea that lack of regulation yields a good marketplace is it fails to take into account cooperation amongst powerful entities. A great example would be working conditions and labor laws. If the top car manufacturers with plants in the us all decide to make employees work 80 hour weeks, who will stop them? When the government steps in, WE are stepping in and saying “you cannot exploit your workers like this”. Company oppression of workers is well documented, and has occured (and can occur) without government intervention.

    45. Vince D,
    The problem is evil with a great deal of socio economic power. Voting just one evil off the island is a false choice. We do not have to make it. We can fight both evils, namely, bad government, and bad corporations.

    Yes, corporations can hurt people in ways that are now against the law (and in ways that are not). But that whole “against the law” bit is government!

    46. Adam Miller,
    An excellent point on drug patents!

    Healthcare really really should put more resources into preventative health. On choices, this is an important point:
    For one thing, unless you are very wealthy, you do not have a large amount of choice, but you still do (especially if you get a PPO plan). Single Payer could easily keep this level of choice intact. Sure, you can’t fly to Arizona for physical therapy, but you aren’t stuck with a single podiatrist.
    That said, you can have a hybrid system, where you can pay extra to go to private hospitals. The difference is that health care would always be guarenteed, period, no matter what you have. Not perfect, but still a nice step in the right direction.

    We could reduce taxes, surely (military alone would cut it by about half, right?). But I am a firm believer in universal health care, schools (although as a resource rather than a compulsion, but my views on unschooling are for a different post), police, firefighters, that sort of thing. If you have government, you have taxes.

    47. Brian,
    On the question of basic protections and rights, I think we could benefit from a clear elucidation of this. I think there there are a lot of protections we could all benefit from. False advertising is a big on. If companies choose to make their wares unsafely, how will we ever be the wiser? What recourse will we have in a RP America?

    48. Brian,
    Heh, I was wondering about that. Very fatalistic.

    49. Jaime,
    The constitution is not holy writ. It is also not the sole authority. We have precedent, legislation, etc. But that is hardly the point. The point is, why shouldn’t protections be universal? What reason is there for saying “rights may not apply in some states”?

    50. Jaime,
    If there is law, there is government. Without some kind of government, law would mean different things to different people, there would be no enforcement, etc.

  52. The Constitution is no holy writ, I agree, so what? It still spells out what the Federal government can do. Up to the Bill of RIghts It only says what the Federal government can do. The Federal government still could not do what the Bill of Rights says the Federal government cannot do.

    The incorporation of the Constitution into the States in union, now that is one that we do not have time nor space to engage in. I will say, though, that it is up to the States; courts to decide those.

    An on the issue of precedents. I do not accept the notion that precedents are law. They are not. Each case has its own set of facts and the outcome is to be decided new on its own merit. Precedents are not law.

  53. I think the biggest source of confusion about “the free market” is that it means everybody can do whatever they want. Corporations , if deregulated, would still have respect personal rights. If they did not, then the government would invoke its’ legitimate authority to protect its’ citizens.

    A corporation cannot take away your freedom to speak, to practice religion, to walk around in your underpants, to smoke dried plants, etc. That is because only the government is authorized to use force or deprive people of property. In order to take away people’s rights, the corporations must control the source of violence. The railroads in the 1800s were only able to seize people’s property (eminent domain) by using the legitimacy of government force.

    The bigger and more centralized a bureaucracy becomes, the more corruptible and inefficient and inaccessible to the people it becomes. Does ‘Mr. Smith’ have a better chance of being elected to Town Hall, or the US Congress?

    Libertarianism is not about No Government, in which corporations, or anybody with a gun/pointy stick, could run amok. It is about a government that protects us from violence and fraud.

    If James Madison thought we needed a 20 volume book series entitled “Constitutional Law” he would have written just a few more pages I think. The constitution is as short and simple as it is for a reason and it is through the bureaucracy of the Judicial branch that the Constitution has become “elastic.” Gadzooks, amend it if needed, but don’t stretch it! (I only bring that up because I feel that people don’t direct enough blame towards the courts.)

  54. Jaime,
    Why shouldn’t protections be universal?

    If the government acts to protect citizens, it would be in some way “regulating” corporations. Some folks consider this a departure from a “pure” free market.

    A corporation can restrict speech and action on private property. It can use its market weight or force as an employer to further regulate the behavior and liberties of individuals.

    Mr Smith might have a better chance of being elected to Town Hall, but from that meager position he has zero chance of driving us policy. It is a trade off.

    James Madison isn’t the only authority on what our country is, and how it should function. None of the founding fathers are.

    There’s nothing wrong with a government that protects the rights of individuals over the rights of corporations.

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