American Socialism Is Upon Us
"Capitalism and markets [ ] are all inherently about self-interest and the pursuit of profit," said Dr. Yaron Brook. "Capitalism encourages and enables selfishness, and as long as our culture looks at profit and self-interest as vices, [ ] big government will always be preferred to free markets." [italics added] "Why Big Government Is Back, and How to Shrink It to Its Proper Size"
This might be a surprising perspective to many people. But it really is surprising only to capitalists who simply want to earn a living--perhaps a big living, but a living that is ruled by nothing but proper market ethics and proper ethical treatment of his or her consumers. And I am one of those to whom it is a surprising perspective.
I should not be surprised. I know full well that the market situation we are currently in was caused by zealous, not ethical, pursuit of the dollar. There is a difference. We expect the neighborhood butcher, farm co-op, or shoe store to treat the community with a high standard of ethics. To do otherwise would be to risk negative letters-to-the-editor in the newspaper, and maybe an investigation by the local TV affiliate, if the situation warrants it. Consumers who feel bent out of shape by the way they were treated locally often sue.
But on the larger scale, in the bigger market places, we all know that ethics tend to become fuzzy, or even misplaced once a rule of ethics is broken the first time and not caught. The big markets can usually fend off attacks by angry customers, unless the business is WalMart or something similar. WalMart is expected to be all things to all people; that is how it grew to be so large. Big selection plus big inventory equals low low prices; that is what constitutes "all things to all people" most of the time.
But Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, explained why the reasons for the resurgence of big government are due, "not to any alleged failures of the market, but to a longtime cultural hostility to its moral basis: the selfish pursuit of profit."
We as Americans have lived with the idea of socialism long enough that most of us do not see how its operating principles-if they can be called "principled"--have crept into our nation's politics, policies, and regulations. In the Treasury Department's U.S crazy scheme to save Wall Street but they included this in big, huge piece of socialist nationalism in section 8: "Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency." [emphasis added] [see The Last Nail in the American Fascist Takeover ]
John McCain may not be the best candidate for President. He may not make a good President if he wins. But he was calling for an investigation of the Wall Street/bank/mortgage situation since 2004. President Bush, believe it or not, had been calling for an investigation since 2002, sensing trouble along the way, and McCain and a few others saw it too.
Barney Frank and other Democrats refused to see it, and Frank specifically stated that all was fine and dandy, there was nothing wrong with the bank/mortgage markets, that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were sound as a whistle and there was no need for any investigation.
Literally every Democrat voted against such an investigation, and virtually all Republicans voted for such an investigation. Now that the Democrats want to go tripping merrily down the lane hand in hand with the Treasury Department and the Fed, and the Republicans have rightly condemned such methods as "socialist."
"The free market for all intents and purposes is dead in America," said Sen. Jim Bunning, (R) Kentucky. "The action proposed today by the Treasury Department will take away the free market and institute socialism in America. The American taxpayer has been misled throughout this economic crisis. The government on all fronts has failed the American people miserably." McClatchy http://www.mcclatchydc.com/244/story/52804.html
"A new chapter of the presidential legacy of George W. Bush has now become clear: He, of all people, will inevitably go down as the president who brought socialism to the citadel of capitalism -- Wall Street." seattlepi.com http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/380223_schramonline24.html
On the other hand, Stephen Griffin of Balkin.com wrote: "'State socialism' implies a one-party state, and is not democratic. 'Democratic socialism' assumes multiple political parties and thus electoral democracy, although such a state may be 'corporatist' in assuming that economic policy should be determined through bargaining among bureaucrats and organizations of labor and capital." http://balkin.blogspot.com/2008/09/why-bailout-isnt-socialist.html
So much for logic on the other side of the philosophical isle. "Socialism" is defined as government control of privately owned property, whether market-oriented or of private orientation, such as home ownership.
Not important "in such a process of transfer is the traditional terminology of Law," wrote Ludvig von Mises, the Austrian economist, in 1922 in his book "Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis." It must be stated that economic terminology has changed since this was written. He said in his book, "It is the aim of Socialism to transfer the means of production from private ownership to the ownership of organized society, to the State." However, this is now the definition of Communism, since the Soviet system demonstrated such ownership to the world. But what von Mises describes further is exactly what has been "creeping" into our nation's economy, sometimes more, sometimes less, than in other so-called capitalist nations.
"Ownership is power of disposal," he further wrote, which is the purposeful end of the Treasury's proposed legislation, "and when this power of disposal is divorced from its traditional name and handed over to a legal institution which bears a new name, the old terminology is essentially unimportant in the matter. Not the word but the thing must be considered. Limitation of the rights of owners as well as formal transference is a means of socialization." [italics added]
So according to von Mises, Stephen Griffin is dead wrong. The power of disposal is the name of the game, not the fact that some "democratic" means was used to divorce the power of disposal. Democracy without absolute protection for individual sovereignty in a nation where the power is invested in government through the use of the transference of individual liberty to what is called "common sovereignty." No individual was ever asked within the boundaries set by the Constitution to give up so much of his/her own sovereignty that "common sovereignty" became democratic socialism.
"Individual sovereignty was not a peculiar conceit of Thomas Jefferson: It was the common assumption of the day." Joseph J. Ellis http://www.friesian.com/ellis.htm
"Dr. Brook also made the point that capitalism has always been defended pragmatically, on the basis that it creates wealth and economic growth--which it does; but it’s time, he said, to defend capitalism on principle, on the basis of its morality, on the basis that it protects the rights of individuals to pursue their own values and allows them freedom to act in their own self-interest."
And we must, at the same time, prevent lobbyists from donating any money or goods or services to any legislator, and at the same time hold all corporations and other businesses to a standard that prevents profit and self-interest as vices.
Every small business owner understands that the economic need for profit, and the same economic as well as psychological needs for self-interest, do not allow for the disintegration of ethics.
Neither does the actual disintegration of ethics give cause or proper power to legislators to reduce individual sovereignty in the name of common sovereignty.
No American ever voted to change the name of this nation to the People's Republic of the United States of America.
[Dr. Brook’s talk is available for free at: http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=reg_ls_big_government]