The problem is that a "business" is an appetite, pure and simple. The "business of business" is to make a profit. Period.
A "business" is the closest thing to a land shark you’ll ever see – ask anyone on Wall Street if you have any doubts.
Letting the sharks loose in a system of unfettered capitalism, which we see more and more of in this country, is not a good thing. The deregulation and merger mania we’ve seen has produced monopolistic industries, raised prices, and exported our quality of life in the pursuit of profits.
The land sharks are in a feeding frenzy. (Teddy Roosevelt would have recognized them instantly a hundred years ago.)
The interesting thing, to me, is how easily businesses have managed to get Americans to support their growing powers.
All it took was a single word.
That word is free. Free is good, right? Freedom, freebies, and like that? So a "free market" and "free trade" must be good too, right?
Wrong, and we’re paying the price because our markets aren’t free, and neither is international trade.
We have monopolistic/oligarchic markets in the US, while this administration is signing restrictive, protectionist trade agreements with the rest of the world. It’s not free anything. It’s land sharks roving the world, leaving a trail of blood in their wake.
Realistically, we essentially have an oligarchic government in America. Rich people representing corporations shape and control America’s economic and trade policies for their personal ends. There’s documentation, but let’s look at a definition first:
Any system of government in which virtually all political power is held by a very small number of wealthy but otherwise unmeritorious people who shape public policy primarily to benefit themselves financially through direct subsidies to their agricultural estates or business firms, lucrative government contracts, and protectionist measures aimed at damaging their economic competitors — while displaying little or no concern for the broader interests of the rest of the citizenry. [Paul M. Johnson, Dept. of Political Science, Auburn University] (Story links open in new windows)
That pretty much sums up the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Executive Branch, doesn’t it? Not everyone, but most of them?
The $180 billion agriculture bill passed during this administration, with most payments going to huge companies like ADM, underscores the point. Even the right-wing Heritage Foundation says: "America’s largest and most wasteful corporate welfare program is farm subsidies."
These subsidies have put more than a million corn farmers out of business in Mexico, shut down hundreds of cotton plantations in Africa and wrecked agriculture in many third world countries while keeping prices higher in America. That is not "free" trade.
The pork-larded "American Jobs Creation Act Of 2004" does create jobs – overseas.
The soi-disant "Free" Trade Agreements Robert Zoellich has signed are protectionist to the core – but that’s okay with Americans because that good old word "free" is right up there, the first word in the title of every agreement, so never mind the reality – they say it’s free so free it must be. (Herr Mesmer had an explanation for this.) [For details see The "Cargo Cult" Is Alive And Well – Today It’s Called "Free Trade"]
The EPA initiates lawsuits to allow strip mining companies to keep filling in streams and pouring sulfates and other pollutants into Appalachian groundwater systems.
Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao claims "We serve the work force" but says the stock market is her most important concern (never mind that investors are rewarding companies who offshore jobs most effectively by re-investing in China, India and points east).
This trend started accelerating about twenty years ago, about when Newt Gingrich came up with his "Conservative Opportunity Society." This administration has given it a fresh impetus, with more than a hundred ex-industry lobbyists and lawyers overseeing the industries they lobbied and lawyered for (and which they continue to do but on our nickel now).
But, hey, that’s just the price of being free, right?
If you don’t think so, you might want to write your Senators and House Representative and give them some free advice. I understand that as few as 2-300 letters, calls and e-mails can get their attention, so it’s worth the effort.
If you aren’t too mesmerized.
Government of Business, by Business, for Business – Part I
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