no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics

Coercion, Corporate Privilege, and “Capitalism”

March 23rd, 2012

If someone were to steal all the bread, and then offer to sell it to us for $10/loaf, we would call that a crime. If a business were to steals only some of the bread, prevents a few other bread manufacturers from operating nearby, and offer to sell us a loaf for $5, would you defend the business’ “right” to sell you bread and your “right” to refuse on free market principles?

If so, you’re an idiot.

Yeah, I had a discussion with some of those misguided souls, you know the type of people who spin their wheels trying to rehabilitate the word “capitalism”, pro-“free market” except their pro-corporate blinders keep them from grapsing how badly the market is being brutalized by the government they purport to hate? Recently, there’s been a little splash because some employers are now asking candidates for their Facebook password, in order to see what’s behind their “privacy” wall. Of course, if government did this it would be atrocious because “government is coercive” but if businesses do this it’s OK because businesses are all “consensual”.

Although this was the genesis of the debate, ultimately it was more of a macro argument. I honestly think these jackasses were more pissed off about the fact that some people want to ask the (government) courts to weigh in on this practice, potentially barring it., but ultimately the discussion centered around their core position: corporations are comprised of individuals, individuals have rights, and therefore corporations have rights.

OK. I’ll play that game. But what about the powers that they exercise, either bestowed by or complicit with the government?

You don’t get to cherry-pick facts. Granting the idea that a corporation (as a collective of individuals) has certain rights transmuted from those individuals, you can’t ignore the exercises of illegitimate powers (things like administering the tax code/collection, or regulatory privilege, and barriers to entry which stifle competition), which are not the proper exercise of rights and therefore cannot be defended as the exercise thereof.

Even though they may act legitimately (by that loose collective rights definition) some of the time or even most of the time, sometimes they do not. As a result, they accrue benefits and privileges which they can (and do) lever against others further down the line, whereupon they ignore the privilege that brought them to the current advantageous position and appeal to the mystical rights argument: “Aha! but right now, you see, I am doing something that is perfectly within my rights…”

Like the bread example above, you must consider the body of work and not just the immediate “option” you’re being presented with. You cannot ignore the usurpation of the rights of others, the coercion which becomes an inseparable part of the whole.

Recognizing this coercion for what it is, you are within your rights to resist, even if that means — ahem — trying to sue them in a government court (really your only option, since the government has a monopoly on law and disorder and it’s the only venue that these corporations would recognize as legitimate anyways).

Yes, the sort of large transnationals, stock-market-indexed corporations are the most obvious examples of this sort of thing, but it’s silly to pretend that smaller businesses are immune from this process. Almost nobody is immune from the process, which is why it is important to understand that literally nothing exists at present which even comes close to the sort of free market corporation (and I use this term veryloosely) that would prevail absent the government’s coercion

Failure to make this distinction, and dogmatically believing in “the market” and the benevolence of corporations is what gives “free market” advocates a bad rap.  So keep the “free market” as an end in itself as your goal, and stop trying to twist logic to justify what is happening, accept that things would (and probably should) be very different, and imagine the possibilities of what could happen in their stead.

Unfortunately I was unable to, despite repeated attempts, get either to budge an inch towards accepting the even part of my argument:


It was an entertaining, if not futile discussion which reminded me why I don’t discuss these things anymore.

The 1% on the Defensive

December 20th, 2011

I read an article at Bloomberg today which at first I mistook for some satire piece from The Onion. But then I realized that it wasn’t funny. It seems the nation’s billionaires are joining forces to gripe about their perceived persecution by the “imbecilic” Occupy movement. I’ve responded to some choice quotes below the fold.

Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The 1% Create Jobs

The official unemployment rate is still hovering around 9% which is double what is ordinarily considered healthy, and I’m pretty sure the actual unemployment rate is more like 15% or higher.  Even with these facts in the headlines every day, some of the 1% have the audacity to play the “job creation” card.

“It’s simply a fact that pretty much all the private- sector jobs in America are created by the decisions of ‘the 1 percent’ to hire and invest.” — Robert Rosenkranz, CEO of Wilmington, Delaware-based Delphi Financial Group Inc.

In other words, “We are responsible for the fate of the economy. Don’t villainize us for the economy’s fate. We are responsible for the fate of the economy!” And thus the ridiculosity of Orwellian newspeak reaches a new zenith.  If the 1% create jobs, and as we all know they are making something like 6 to 6,000 times the national median income, then there really is no excuse for a 15% unemployment rate? Why aren’t they creating more jobs?

Blame the Rich!

Wealth doesn’t make you a bad person. I’m not going to object to that. But still, it is virtually impossible for a good person to make 1% fuck-you-money on merit alone. You’ve got to be willing to lie, cheat and steal to “succeed” in this game because those are the rules.

“Acting like everyone who’s been successful is bad and because you’re rich you’re bad, I don’t understand it.” — Jamie Dimon (the highest-paid chief executive officer among the heads of the six biggest U.S. banks)

“Instead of an attack on the 1 percent, let’s call it an attack on the very productive.” —John A. Allison IV, a director of BB&T Corp

As members of the most politically privilged oligopoly in the history of mankind, a private banking cartel which creates nothing but debt, and which profits from indenture, inflation, and seignorage, you are not rich you’re filthy rich from stolen money. It is quite likely that you have never “created” anything in your adult life, and even those products of others’ labor for which you may claim responsibility (as a financier), for each of those ventures you “enabled” or made possible with Monopoly Money, there were dozens more which were excluded from the system of privilege.

Tax the Rich!

But it seems there is some infighting going on, though, as others like that hypocrite Warren Buffet, or Nick Hanauer who’s $6B nest egg was enabled by Microsoft’s patent and intellectual property trolls, argue that,

“Rich businesspeople … don’t create jobs.” Instead, Hanaur says, “Let’s tax the rich like we once did and use that money to spur growth.”

Except that there is not one shred of evidence that backs up this ludicrous claim. The baby-boom era’s “productivity”, about which many wax nostalgic, was made possible only by exploiting the third world in order to make up for 50 years of total warfare that ravaged most of the world. This is the Broken Window Fallacy (link to a summary, but I do encourage you to read the full text) on an existential scale, but the lesson is the same: You know what would be better than re-building a bridge? NOT BLOWING IT UP IN THE FIRST PLACE.

And this does not even attempt to account for the value of the ~200 million (or more) human lives expended during last century’s conflicts which can never be replaced.

Skin in the Game

The idea that lower-income households, who pay no Federal income tax, have no “skin in the game” is absurd. The only reason I mention it is because it is so wrong that I can’t ignore it.

“You have to have skin in the game, I’m not saying how much people should [pay in federal income taxes]. But we should all be part of the system.” — Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone Group LP , when asked about lower-income U.S. households who pay no income taxes.

This is simply blaming the victim for his plight, like the argument that the poor are lazy and un-industrious, not motivated, dumb, or incompetent. In other words, it is not bad enough that the system has utterly failed these people, no, they should have to contribute their “fair share” as well.

There is an entire movement of people who hate you.  Wake the fuck up.

We Are the 99%

October 26th, 2011

My friend Dave (no, not “my friend” as in “me”) wrote this poem in response to/solidarity with the occupy movement, and asked what I thought? Well, I thought it was good enough to re-post. Enjoy & share!

A disconnect of intellect
Separates 1 sect
Of society that has yet to see,
The reality of tyranny
Terrorizing our liberty
Infiltrating our democracy
By misinforming you and I
With black, bold-face headline lies,
From white papers and men with ties
To planes falling from the sky!
Shrouding us in guided fear,
Blurring what was once clear,
Promising the end is near
Watching middle-class disappear,
While the CEO’s always rising stock
Can feed and house a Detroit block,
Decayed and ruined from financial shock,
Trapped by bars, key and lock.

United we stand behind soldiers who fall,
The willing few who risk it all
By volunteer or government’s call,
The Constitution would be appalled
That this poem need be written at all,
Or, that power is reserved for political pull
Extorting from the Middle East
Black blood’s perpetual profitable feast,
Making war the sustainable beast
Politicians’ worry about second to least
Trumped only by those on Wall Street
Who take pride that our ends won’t meet,
Enjoying poverty in their discrete
Malcontent for our absent greed,
Contempt for those we cannot feed,
While we fight for basic needs,
We’re told to pick-up from the straps
Where our boots and courage overlap
With souls worn thin from wealth’s gap,
Powerless to escape the unnecessary trap

Of political divisiveness
Increasing dismissiveness,
Making people grow leery of alternative theories
The main-stream floods, banks with no hole in its paddles
We’re boat without steam left sinking in battle
No savior near on white mare’s saddle
No magnanimous rider who’s not an insider
Will build a bridge, or damn the creek flowing wider
Forcing us to drown or swim across.
For when we sink it’s not their loss
Since the 1% fit in one yacht,

Whether or not

This is our country! For which you fought,
For the classroom in which you taught
The simple beauty of free thought,
The Achilles heel to being bought.
Though government paid persons bails,
No one human is too big to fail
Or small enough to escape the jail
Stifling justice’s disgraceful wail,
With death sentence or life in cell.
The highest price is paid in blood
By bomb, bullet and nature’s flood.
Not by those who wear white collars,
Who own the banks and political scholars,
Talking heads, confusing words for dollars,
Censoring choices for our selection,
Diluting truth and fair election –
An anonymous, executive, backdoor connection –
Buried beneath its strategic intention
Lay 99% seeking release from the tension,
Without a paycheck or a pension,
Or even an unemployment extension!
Denied by those with luxuries’ leisure,
Free from debt and property seizure,
From war abroad and at home,
To those who can’t secure a loan,
Leasing life, liberty never owned –
In exchange to be left alone.

99% of the blue collar power
Can rebuild towers in hours
If water is fed to withering flowers,
Its pollen and petals kept as ours,
With thorns, stigma, style, and stem,
Its pistil to protect us from men,
Soliciting our brethren,
Be a spring of sacrificial lambs,
Patriots! Die, but live and be damned.
A people misled to understand,
Year by year, wars with no end;
Fear by fear, our rights apprehend.
The use of liberties amongst civil men
Silenced as rogue, political dissent!
Drowned by noise of the absurd,
The banished black sheep of the herd.
Curiosity? Killed, by the cat
For questioning how it got fat,
Why our soldiers still lay flat
By will of the aristocrat,
Who celebrate corporate goals
And the sale of our souls –
Only at a convenient price –
Not the blood of men, but that of mice.

Now is the time to exchange the blood,
Build an Ark and reverse the flood
Of shameless corporate and political power
Suffocating blue into hopeless collar –
Second by second, hour by hour,
We, the People, grow into a beautiful flower.
Black, gay, woman or white,
History is the enemy we fight
Against indifference toward our rights,
Uniquely human versus corporate might.
They may preach peace from private steeples,
But cowards are cunning and often evil,
They lobby to make sure it’s legal,
The 99’s voice is no longer feeble

Because

P.

People

E.

Everywhere

A.

Are

C.

Created

E.

Equal.

no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics