Random Notes from the Exasperation File

Laissez faire capitalism—the so-called Free Market—seems like a nice idea. But it isn’t, really. A free market requires that everybody plays nice and follows the rules. Guess what. There’s always someone who will do whatever evil they think is required to make money. Once you realize that, you know there can be no such thing as the free market. Example: the “free trade” agreement we made with Mexico, in which we flooded their market with subsidized corn—which does not qualify as “free trade”, since they had no such subsidy—making paupers out of millions of Mexican farmers. That’s not “free trade”. It’s the typical Big Business “arrangement” that takes everything and gives nothing. There’s no such thing as a free trade agreement for the same reason there is no such thing as a free market: someone will always put their thumb on the scale.

The Free Market seems like a nice idea.
But it isn’t, really.

If even a tiny percentage of corporate interests forget their sacred moral duty to the world, they will gain a market advantage, and make more money than their competitors. Then their competitors will be forced to adopt the same questionable tactics, or go broke doing the right thing. That’s one of the primary reasons that uncontrolled capitalism has been such a gross failure since the Reagan/Thatcher “revolution”, leaving us with record inequality and damaged democracy, and bringing the world economy to the brink of total collapse that simply evaporated trillions of dollars.

Our inequality has worsened
every year for four decades.

When Living Wage is paid, as it has been in Australia for a century, low income earners are by definition out of poverty. They also pay higher taxes. This is a double benefit for government, for everyone, with less tax support needed for the unfortunate, and more tax revenue as a result of better income for all. But instead of Living Wage, we have Poverty Wage, which no one can live on. Obama’s $9.00 minimum wage proposal won’t really change that.

All immigrants pay taxes. With Boomers retiring en masse, more tax revenue is essential. An increased population of immigrant workers of all kinds would help address the future of workers’ retirement savings that was unbalanced by retiring Boomers and the 2007 market mess. Instead, we mount armed posses to round up the grossly underpaid workers we depend on, and deport them. Don’t want none of them kind takin’ ’merkin jobs—although “true Americans” don’t last a day in those jobs, and won’t work for such low pay anyway.

An increased population of immigrant workers
would help correct our budget problems.

When a foreigner graduates from our colleges—and the US is still the premier place to do graduate work—we tell him to go home, and thereby lose all the potential benefit he (almost always) could bring to the country. Nor can his spouse, who is likely to be a highly valuable worker herself, do any work while she’s here with him. It takes so long to get permission to work in the US that the top workers often go someplace else, where they are eagerly sought, highly respected, and well paid.

Middle-income individuals pay their fair share of taxes, and in fact long ago surpassed business as the main source of tax revenue. Business, on the other hand, devotes armies of lawyers and lobbyists to the task of tax avoidance. When they succeed—and significant numbers of the largest corporations pay absolutely NO tax, Facebook and Bank of America being just two—there are two immediate consequences: the rest of us must pay more, and crucial government expenditures are not met. This is a long-standing injustice, the product of grossly improper influence on Congress by business, particularly large corporations.

Middle-income individuals pay their fair share of taxes.
Many of the richest corporations pay NO taxes.

Apparently it is possible for congress persons to sneak at night into the ancient wooden cabinet where pending bills are kept, take out their quill pen, and scratch changes on the parchment of a bill anonymously and without being detected. When the bill is enacted, we suddenly find that such innocuous insertions, deep in the pages of legalese, have become national law that will cost us truckloads of money. Take, for instance, the recent gift to the drug company Amgen of another two-year extension of their monopoly rights, a completely uncalled for gift of some $500,000,000 to Amgen’s owners. This gift apparently came from the politicians to whom Amgen contributed the most money: Mitch McConnell, Max Baucus, and Orin Hatch. Multiply this effect by the number of lawmakers owned by Big Business, which is nearly all of them, and you see the problem: business owns Congress, literally. Their pet congresspersons always do what their owners want, often in ways like this.

Lawmakers haven’t figured out that this sort of crap is why the popularity of Congress regularly scores right up there with two-week influenza and tax audits. This is a perversion of democracy.

Business owns Congress, and their pet congresspersons
always do what their owners want.

I know the secret that eludes government, of how hundreds of billions of dollars can be saved. First and foremost is to cut the budget of the Department of Warmongering to something rational. There is no conceivable reason we should spend as much as the next 43 nations combined. Plus, just by not inventing new wars for a couple of decades, the savings would stabilize our budget and diminish our debt. (Our long term average, BTW, is one new war every two years or so.) The whole warmaking enterprise has become the nation’s biggest pork barrel, just as Eisenhower predicted.

We also give huge gifts every year to the Carbon Pollution Industries (Big Oil, Big Coal), which outgrew their need for development assistance a century ago. Subsidies are supposed to help new industries get established. When they last a hundred years they are no longer a subsidy, they are political larceny, and should be stopped in their tracks. Our gifts to Big Ag, Big Insurance, Big Pharma, and Big Anything should be reviewed and eliminated. These guys should be put out of their misery if they can’t survive without handouts of our tax money. And it is, in fact, our money, since so many big businesses pay no tax.

Cutting the budget of the Department of Warmongering
and eliminating the ancient subsidies for the
Carbon Pollution Industries would save many billions.

We have functioned under conservative’s assertion that the Free Market is best, the free and unregulated market. Then we arrange the market so it is anything but free, but still unregulated, so every business gets away with some of our money. Every government subsidy violates the very meaning of the free market by tipping the scales toward those subsidized. Every law favoring an industry does the same. So the fact is, the Free Market simply does not exist. This does not say there should be no subsidies. But subsidies should have a sunset built into their award. Unless an industry can present compelling reasons for renewing a subsidy, it should be allowed to expire when it is no longer needed for survival. All of these antique subsidies should find the sun setting on them right now.


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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I don’t even know where to start with you. You said so many things that are simply false or plainly illogical, I think it would take me all night to respond. However, I can say simply – either one supports liberty or one doesn’t.

    I do.

    You don’t seem to.

    In love of liberty.


    • Liberty? This entry is a collection of thoughts mostly about the faults of the so-called free market. I contend that what we call the free market is not free at all, but is controlled by wealthy interests for their own benefit. When we have sought free market arrangements with others, we have cheated, and brought misery to millions. Their liberty has been destroyed, and they are destitute.

      Please choose one or two things that are “simply false or plainly illogical”, Tiffany, so there will be something to consider. Otherwise I will be forced to conclude that you are like another commenter who was very good at calling names and telling me how wrong I was, but was unable to offer a single instance of why, and had no supporting information. There are several points here, and I am ready to defend any of them, but would welcome better information that would prove me wrong, if you have any.

      Frankly, I think I DO understand liberty. It is closely related to equality, and we have been moving in the wrong direction for several decades. We do not improve the quality of our liberty when a class of people determine for us how we will live.


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