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I’m going to leave out some of the parts of the discussion that seem to me to be tangential at best.

But let me start with what should be obvious.

Mike F’s description of how well corporations fit the analogy of “sociopaths” applies at least as well, and in fact exponentially better, to government.

The lust for power is at least as strongly a part of human nature as the lust for money, and may be a stronger one.

And on that list of characteristics, I could do an entire volume.

Doesn’t care about anybody else’s rights?

Consider Arne Duncan’s Department of Education, which has instructed colleges and universities that if they want government money they must adjudicate campus rape complaints by a preponderance of the evidence and not a beyond a reasonable doubt standard, and must further have sexual harrassment codes based entirely on subjective feelings and with no requirements for basis in verifiable fact.

Or consider Katherine Sebilius’s Department of Health and Human Services, which thinks the free exercise clause of the first amendment is an optional extra to be subordinated not even by law, but by her executive fiat.

I could go on in this vein, but you see what I mean.  And these things most definitely happen because the nature of government, its internal logic, is what it is. 

Government power will grow inexorably against individual liberty unless it’s watched very closely and kept strictly in check, and to me Mike’s “answer” to the behavior of large corporations is to throw all the watching and the checks out the window.

The other thing I think Mike F is missing is the fact that the very size and power of the corporations he detests is symbiotic with–and COULD NOT EXIST WITHOUT–the regulatory state.

In a nation that functions according to the rule of law, the power and reach of any person or organization within it is limited by a number of factors.

For business entities, these include competition from other firms, both for profit and for employees.

The more competition there is, the less power any one corporation can  have.  The LESS competition there is, the less power any one corporation can have.

Corporations therefore look to  limit competition any way they can.

In a country operating  under the rule of law, there is a limited number of things corporations (or groups of corporations) can do to limit competition. 

Under the rule of law, rules are passed by elected bodies whose members can lose their seats and their power. 

All proposed rules are publicly debated, and are often in the news and known to everybody long before they are passed, never mind go into effect.

That means that everybody has a chance to prepare if the rules are going to change, and nobody is left scrambling at the last minute to accommodate  sudden changes in the legal landscape.

What’s more, such laws, being public and (ideally) short and to the point, are expected to have a single interpretation that applies to everybody. 

If X means Y for Little Business, it means the same thing for Large Corporation.  Everybody is expected to play by the same rules.

But the regulatory state does not operate by the rule of law.  It operates by the rule of men.  And, of course, women.

Nearly two thirds of the laws we now live by were not passed as laws, they were issued as regulations. 

The people who issued them are effectively immune from any accountability at all.  They are not only not elected, but civil service regulations make it damn near impossible to fire them.

They can issue literally thousands of pages of regulations at one go.  

Technically, they’re required to hold 30 days of public hearings before these regulations go into effect, but in practice it turns out that there are lots and lots and lots of exceptions to this.  In the past five years, the public hearings-public imput rules were ignored close to half the time.

What’s more, however, is that regulations mean what regulators want them to mean–when Little Business comes to ask what completely incomprehensible Regulation A actually means, he may (and often does) get a very different answer than the one that was given to Large Corporation.

The level playing field is gone.  What now matters is who you know, not what you do.

But even if everybody was trying very hard to do the right thing–and human nature says they won’t–the simple fact that thousands of pages of regulations can be issued at short notice, or that thousands of pages of regulations already exist that must be satisfied before you’re allowed to make widgets, limits competition by itself.

First, it makes it difficult to impossible for new start up companies to emerge to challenge the existing corporate presences.  The start up costs are too high.

And second, it makes it difficult to impossible for small companies to grow significantly larger. 

It’s take a lot of money and manpower to accommodate suddenly released reams of regulations–money and manpower that smaller businesses don’t have. 

The incentive, in this structure, is for small companies to stay small so that they don’t get hit by new requirements that mean nothing  much to GM but that could put them underwater. 

When you limit the competition between companies, you also limit the options of workers, who are increasingly in the position of having no place to go if they don’t work for Large Corporation.

A country with a few clear rules applied evenly across the board offers anyone who wants work thousands of opportunities to get it.  The regulatory state reduces the number of operating firms and therefore the number of other jobs a worker could bail to if he doesn’t like the way he’s being treated.

And it does more than that.  It treats the biggest of the big players the way it treats bureaucrats.  It produces “too big to fail,” and therefore makes sure that business In The Club are  protected from their own  mistakes.

The mistake of the Reagan administration wasn’t in deregulating the S and L’s.  It was in deregulating them while STILL INSURING THEM.  It produced a situation where there was no downside to taking stupid risks.

And the same is true of the 2008 meltdown.  The problem wasn’t that these guys were either stupid or greedy, although they were both.

The problem was that these guys KNEW they wouldn’t pay for it.  The government bailed out the S and L’s.  It keeps bailing out failing firms.  Therefore, when the time came, the people at the banks knew they had nothing to lose.

And they were right.

If you want to avoid another 2008 disaster, you don’t issue more regulations and give more power to regulators. 

You return to the rule of law, and if people make mistakes, you let them fail.

There is, however, one more thing–

Mike F says that the government should have more power over corporations than it has over individuals.

But the fact is that the way things are set up, the government has far more power over me than it has over Citigroup.

It has decided that it can regulate every aspect of my life, from the way I raise my children to what I eat and whether or not I exercise.

And unlike corporations–who make products I can decide not to buy if I want to–I’ve got nowhere to escape to.

Arguments like the one about potato chips–the corporations are making them addictive! you’re all helpless addicts–are NOT about regulating the corporations.

They’re about regulating me.

And I had enough of that a long time ago.

What I eat is  my business, my right, my choice.  Whether the government decides to go after me personally or go after the people who sell what I want to buy, it is STILL none of its business.

The government exists for one reason and one reason only, to preserve my rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

It has no “right” to “protect” me from myself, even if it does so by redefining the  narrative so that, when I make a choice it doesn’t like, it can explain to everybody that that wasn’t REALLY a choice, I only think it was so it’s okay to take that choice away from me.



Written by janeh

June 28th, 2013 at 7:57 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response to 'Sociopathic'

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  1. Doesn’t care about anybody else’s rights?

    Well, no. No one enters government to protect rights–or at least not rights of the negative sort. It’s too limiting, and no fun. Hence the “Second Bill of Rights” which is all the stuff government can make people do.

    The Constitution was written by people who concluded that probably I was competent to manage my own affairs, and if I wasn’t the alternatives were still worse than letting me try. Which is why the “progressives” had to replace it with the “living constitution.” You can get governments concerned about your rights, of course. But you have to remove progressives from power, and you have to make governing something one does for a few years and not a “lifetime of public service.” People look at laws very differently when they think they might have to live and work under them, but that’s not a prospect any senior politician has had to face for a very long time.


    28 Jun 13 at 10:12 am

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