The Corporate Oligarchy


War is Peace

Ignorance is Freedom

Pride is Virtue

And two indistinct “choices” is Democracy

One of these men is the savior of our country; the other is a brainless idiot who hates everything that makes America great. But which is which depends entirely on whether you are a Republican or a Democrat because both men are driven by the same corporatist principles and political demagoguery.

Here’s the facts: both candidates support aggressive warfare, sanctions, and interventionist foreign policy, both oppose an audit of the Federal Reserve and think that Ben Bernanke is doing a “good job”, both want Gauntanamo open and expanded, both believe that the President has the authority to order the assassination of anyone (including American citizens) without trial, both supported the TARP bailouts, they share the same financial backers (mostly Wall Street and central banks – yes, the same ones we bailed out), they both have a long pro-choice record, both supported mandated health insurance, both have violated Americans’ religious freedom: Romney forced Catholic hospitals to dispense the Morning After Pill and Obama forces employers to cover birth control on employee insurance plans against their consciences.

That sound you hear is Romney clapping.

Both have shown an irrational level of loyalty to Israel, putting Israel’s interest before even our own at the expense of our own security and morals; both support torture and the death penalty, and while Obama supports gay marriage and euthanasia Romney is indifferent on these issues at best.

You got us. We’re the same.

Regardless of which of these men secure power come November big government, the systematic erosion of freedom and collectivism win and Americans lose.

I happen to like most Americans – but central planners, bureaucrats, and demagogues? Not so much. That’s why I’m going to vote for candidates that actually represent the former and not people like Obama and Romney who stand for the latter.

Pope Leo XIII on Capitalism and Socialism


In response to attacks against religious freedom the American Catholic bishops have risen in defense of the church. However, many of the bishops, and many Catholics, have come to accept along the road the basic socialist principles that it is the government’s role to feed, clothe, house and provide medical care to its citizens. Thus, much of the Catholic community talks about how Obamacare’s attacks on religious freedom are wrong, but there’s some really good things in there too! Much of this sentiment is a reaction to our unfortunate corporatist system (which, sadly, too many Catholics – like Paul Ryan – support as well) in which the rich and the government cooperate to take from the poor and benefit the wealthy. The problem, however, is that the only way the government can provide services to the have-nots, either directly or indirectly, is through coercion, plunder and the destruction of liberty. This view is not in defense of the rich; socialism is not wrong primarily because it takes from the rich but because, like corporatism, it brings down society at large and harms the underprivileged most of all.

In The Law, 19th century political economist Frederic Bastiat explains that, if the privileged classes use the government for “legalized plunder”, this will encourage the lower classes to revolt or use socialist “legalized plunder” and that the correct response to both the socialists and the corporatists is to cease all “legalized plunder”. Bastiat also explains that the law cannot defend life, liberty, and property if it promotes socialist policies. When used to obtain “legalized plunder” for any group, he says, the law is perverted and turned against the very thing it is supposed to defend.

While many Catholics embrace socialist principles thinking that “capitalism has failed” they fail to recognize what capitalism even is. I think that many of our bishops make the same mistake and its not scandalous to say so. After all, they are priests – not economists – and while we would do well to always respect their authority we must also recognize their limitations. Those are the areas, not for rebellion, but for discussion. “Capitalism” is a broad term that refers to any economic model based in the individual ownership of property, a non-capitalist economy in contrast finds its basis in collective (that is, government) ownership of property. “Capitalism” may refer to both “good” and “bad” economic models: there’s corporatism mentioned above which probably best describes the United States (it is also the worst form of capitalism, combining the worst aspects of capitalism with the worst aspects of collectivism) but there’s also a hundred other variations like the classical liberal economic model embraced by Bastiat and even Chesterton’s distributism is fundamentally capitalist even though some distributism beg to differ (in fact, I would argue that distributism is even more capitalist in nature than many other capitalist models like corporatism in that property rights are more jealously protected for everyone, whereas corporatism demands systematic government seizure of property from the non-privileged).

So, while we must defend capitalism for the sake of our rights, we need not defend our nation’s particular model of capitalism. This idea, however, that we must embrace capitalism and reject collectivist models like socialism (or corporatism which is a rather special case, combining both capitalist and collectivist aspects) is not purely secular, it is not amoral and it certainly is not immoral or in any way contrary to Catholicism. While the American bishops have suggested that capitalism may be at least in part contrary to Catholic social justice teaching, Pope Leo XIII, in Rerum Novarum, had the following to say on capitalism:

“Every man has by nature the right to possess property as his own.”

“Man’s needs do not die out, but forever recur; although satisfied today, they demand fresh supplies for tomorrow. Nature accordingly must have given to man a source that is stable and remaining always with him, from which he might look to draw continual supplies. And this stable condition of things he finds solely in the earth and its fruits. There is no need to bring in the State. Man precedes the State, and possesses, prior to the formation of any State, the right of providing for the substance of his body.”

“Private ownership is in accordance with the law of nature.”

“They assert that it is right for private persons to have the use of the soil and its various fruits, but that it is unjust for any one to possess outright either the land on which he has built or the estate which he has brought under cultivation. But those who deny these rights do not perceive that they are defrauding man of what his own labor has produced.”

“As effects follow their cause, so is it just and right that the results of labor should belong to those who have bestowed their labor.”

“The laws of nature, the foundations of the division of property, and the practice of all ages has consecrated the principle of private ownership, as being pre-eminently in conformity with human nature, and as conducing in the most unmistakable manner to the peace and tranquillity of human existence.”

“Paternal authority can be neither abolished nor absorbed by the State.”

“Each needs the other: capital cannot do without labor, nor labor without capital. Mutual agreement results in the beauty of good order, while perpetual conflict necessarily produces confusion and savage barbarity.”

“”It is lawful,” says St. Thomas Aquinas, “for a man to hold private property; and it is also necessary for the carrying on of human existence.””

And here’s what he had to say on socialism:

“the socialists, working on the poor man’s envy of the rich, are striving to do away with private property, and contend that individual possessions should become the common property of all, to be administered by the State or by municipal bodies. They hold that by thus transferring property from private individuals to the community, the present mischievous state of things will be set to rights, inasmuch as each citizen will then get his fair share of whatever there is to enjoy. But their contentions are so clearly powerless to end the controversy that were they carried into effect the working man himself would be among the first to suffer. They are, moreover, emphatically unjust, for they would rob the lawful possessor, distort the functions of the State, and create utter confusion in the community. “

“The socialists, therefore, in setting aside the parent and setting up a State supervision, act against natural justice, and destroy the structure of the home.”

“The sources of wealth themselves would run dry, for no one would have any interest in exerting his talents or his industry; and that ideal equality about which they entertain pleasant dreams would be in reality the levelling down of all to a like condition of misery and degradation.”

“Class is naturally hostile to class, and that the wealthy and the working men are intended by nature to live in mutual conflict. So irrational and so false is this view that the direct contrary is the truth.”

“At the present day many there are who, like the heathen of old, seek to blame and condemn the Church for such eminent charity. They would substitute in its stead a system of relief organized by the State. But no human expedients will ever make up for the devotedness and self sacrifice of Christian charity. Charity, as a virtue, pertains to the Church.”

Corporatism has failed. Every flavor of centrally planned government around the world has failed. Capitalism remains largely untried.

On Sophistry, Philosophy and Economics


While the modern definition of sophistry refers to specious and deceptive argumentation, it originates from the Greek word sophos or sophia meaning to be “wise” or “wisdom.” In the second half of the 5th century BC, sophists were intellectuals of Athens who claimed that they possessed wisdom. However, as German Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper puts it, “the words “philosophy” and “philosopher” were coined, according to legend, by Pythagoras. And they were intended to stand in an emphatic contrast with “sophia” and “sophos”: no man is wise and knowing, only God. And so the most that man can do is call someone a loving searcher of the truth, philo-sophos.

‘The School of Athens’ by Rafael Santi

Thus sophistry is directly contrary to the intellectual tradition of philosophy and of Socrates and Plato who saw themselves, not as possessing wisdom, but as pursuers of wisdom. Instead, in the philosophical tradition wisdom was not something that could ever be possessed by mortal man, no matter how vigorously the philosopher pursued it. So, while the sophist is fueled by the ambition to possess knowledge, the philosopher treads down an endless road, and the fuel that burns in his heart is wonder: wonder at the world, at creation itself – and hope. The sophist sees the world through a microscope: reducing creation to numbers and chemicals and mass and wavelengths. The philosopher, in that experience that we’ve all felt at some time in at least some small way, transcends the environment of the sophist and finds wonder in the world, and in the philosopher’s heart burns the hope of expanding this enlightenment – not to dominate the world, but to see it in ever greater circles of experience. Thus, the philosopher grasps a reality that expands to infinity, and is far more human, more fulfilling, than that finite environment of the domineering sophist.

The dichotomy between sophistry and philosophy is an important one in itself but it parallels another dichotomy in economics, a subject matter more pertinent to this blog. Namely, it parallels a stark difference between classical liberalism (similar to the libertarianism of today) and collectivism which is of supreme importance. Collectivism, and other structures like corporatism (a capitalist economic model) and despotism in nearly all forms, represents a centrally planned economy in which a solitary leader or a small minority of elites are, often under the guise of benevolence, in charge of making all of the decisions for society, “planning” and regulating society from their center of power. This correlates well with sophist thought, whose ultimate desire is the possession of wisdom and knowledge – for, as we’re all told, knowledge is power, and the sophist seeks knowledge, not for its own sake, but as a means to whatever end that the sophist has in mind. So, too, with the central planners: they have the power and, through their empire of bureaucrats, they seek to regulate and control the flow of information, to analyze every bit of information coming in so as to, from their center of command, better regulate all the capital and all the labor forces below them. The economy is one great machine and the central planners are its machinists.

However, the economy is not a machine. Neither is it merely an abstraction. Its a living, breathing, real thing: namely, you and me. The “economy” is the world and everything in it: all of its natural resources from minerals and gases to plants and animals, but most importantly, the “economy” is made up of human beings. So that, while the economy of the capital of the world may possibly be reduced to the status of a machine, run by machinists in a precise, calculating way from far off, the human race, with its human nature, religion, culture and civilization, can never be reduced to such simplistic terms. Only God can possess such wisdom and knowledge. Only God could possibly regulate society without inadvertently pulling every member of humanity down to the lowest standard of living over time. As Austrian economist Friedrich von Hayek so wisely stated: “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”

Conversely, classical liberalism bases its economic theory on the foundation of private property – not because government has no authority over its citizens or their property (it does possess the authority of eminent domain, to take property with just compensation to the owner for public use if it benefits the common good) but because the kind of knowledge and power necessary to “run” an economy can never be possessed. With property largely controlled by private individuals, ideally in the hands of as many people as possible, power is decentralized so that the public interest becomes manifest in the collective actions of all individuals working independently in their own self-interests. Is this a model of perfect efficiency? No, but one of the first axioms of economics is that in any economy there will always be unmet needs because we are not perfect and because all resources are limited. Only the sophist seeks the “perfect model,” to reduce the world to a formula. Instead, the free-market model represents the most efficient economy possible, by eliminating the need for anyone to actually possess the unpossessable knowledge necessary to centrally plan society. While central planners, in typical sophist fashion, seek to possess and change their environment, the classical liberal actively pursues a greater understanding of the world and changes his economic model to reflect it. Thus, we have the fluid model of the classical liberal in which each individual, each family, has the liberty to respond to the world as their own specialized knowledge dictates according to their own very specific and unique needs. The aggregate of these billions of daily responses by millions of people is what we call the free-market and no central planner, even with a bureaucratic empire at his fingertips, could ever replicate such a process or hope to possess the near-infinite variables and data points that went into shaping the market.

Therefore, in this regard, it is in the tradition of philosophy that the free-market or free-trade economics of classical liberalism has its roots while the foundation of the central planners’ world, whether in the form of socialism, corporate fascism or some other despotism, is built upon the folly of the sophist.

I Will Not Unite Under a Banner of Fascism


“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” Abraham Lincoln

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.” Thomas Jefferson

In the face of the upcoming presidential election the rallying cry of the GOP has been to “beat Obama at all costs.” However, while the Republican establishment is poised to crown Mitt Romney their champion we must ask ourselves, what, exactly, is the cost of beating Obama if it means a Romney presidency? Obama has accomplished much since 2008: he has expanded the power and breadth of central government and most notably that of the executive branch, he has continued the failed foreign policy of the Bush administration, broken countless promises, given us socialized healthcare, given himself the power to detain without evidence or trial any American citizen if he suspects them of terrorism, and he has gone to war against the Catholic Church in a battle that may see every Catholic hospital and charity shut down and re-opened under the state. That’s just a sampling. But, is Romney’s agenda really all that distinguishable from Obama’s? And if so is it really better enough to justify unifying under him so as to beat Obama “at all costs”?

Obama’s socialist agenda threatens to destroy this country from the inside but Romney’s political policy should be just as abhorrent to the American citizenry. Under Romney we will have corporate fascism in which a powerful, centralized government and giant, politically connected corporations in the private sector cooperate and work hand-in-hand in their own self-interest at the expense of every-day working Americans. Below is an analysis on Romney regarding certain key issues and how a Romney presidency would affect America.

Consistency:

Mitt Romney will say anything to get elected. That is not a matter of personal opinion but a fact: he has, at one time or another, publicly endorsed opposing stances on virtually every major issue. It seems that Romney will say or do anything as long as it is politically expedient and will serve to advance his political career. If you don’t believe me just watch him, in his own words, repeatedly flip-flop, contradict himself and lie:

More on Romney’s history as a flip-flopper here.

Supporters:

Romney’s top six donors are banks – and every single one of them has received millions if not billions of the taxpayer’s money in bailouts. Washington, in its corruption, perpetually props up these failed, but politically connected, corporations – they are not too big to fail, just too greedy to succeed. Those same failed banks who cooperate with government to bleed honest-working Americans of their wealth support Romney because they know that he will support them. A Romney presidency guarentees another TARP bailout not if, but when, the next giant corporation with political connections fails. The money trail speaks for itself:

Top contributors to Romney, 2012:

FIRST number: Top donors to Romney 2012.
SECOND number: How much bailout money those companies received in 2008:

Goldman Sachs $574 K $13 Billion
Bank of America $399 K $15 Billion
JP Morgan Chase $394 K $25 Billion
Morgan Stanley $374 K $107 Billion
Credit Suisse $318 K $500 Million
Citigroup $302 K $25 Billion

Kirkland & Ellis $249 K
(Lobbying firm whos clients include Big Pharma, Big Energy, Big Medical, and yes, you guessed it: Morgan Stanley, UBS, etc.)

Barclays $229 K $48 Billion

Pricewaterhouse/
Coopers $209 K
(Accounting firm darling of Wall Street)

Wells Fargo $205 K $25 Billion

HIG Capital $191K

UBS AG $191 K $75 Billion

Blackstone Group $183 K
Bain Capital $149 K
Marriot International $133 K
EMC Corp $129 K

Citadel Investment
Group $128 K $1 Billion

Elliot Management $118 K
Deloitte LLP $125 K
(Accounting firm with clients such as Morgan Stanley and Monsanto)

Bain & Co $123 K

These numbers should come as no surprise since Romney considered the 2010 700 billion Wall Street bailout “the right thing to do.”

Freedom:

Romney supports the NDAA which allows the executive branch to indefinitely detain any American citizen without trial or evidence based entirely on “suspicion of terrorism” effectively stripping all Americans of their right to Habeas Corpus. He also supports the drone strikes that, to date, have killed hundreds of innocent bystanders and claims that Pakistan is “comfortable” with the United States using drone strikes against their people. Additionally, Romney supports the Patriot Act and “enhanced interrogation.” In no way does Romney’s agenda regarding these issues of freedom vary from Obama’s own.

Foreign Policy:

“Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney chose Veterans Day to proclaim to the American people his conviction that the world is a dangerous place, and the United States must remain its most formidable military power.” – Reuters

Romney is in favor of the same kind of military interventionism that led us into two unnecessary and expensive decade-long wars in the Middle East that have crippled Afghanistan and Iraq, made the Middle East even more volatile, made the world less safe, resulted in the deaths of thousands of Americans and cost billions in national treasure. The Congressional Budget Office projects ObamaCare’s cost to be about $1.76 trillion. Most conservatives rightly recognize we can’t afford this. President Obama’s current military spending is about $1.2 trillion. Mitt Romney’s proposed plan calls for $2.1 trillion in military spending. Romney’s military budget alone dwarfs ObamaCare. The only ones to have benefited from the kind of foreign policy endorsed by Romney is the military-industrial complex. Meanwhile, Romney gives Obama an “F” on foreign policy – yet how Romney’s policy abroad significantly differs from Obama’s own, other than throwing more money at the problem, remains a mystery.

National Debt:

According to the U.S. National Debt Clock our nation’s total liability per taxpayer is $1,039,057. That’s right, over one million dollars per individual. Our national debt accrues an annual interest of $11,971 per citizen. That’s how much you’d have to pay every year just to cover our debt’s interest. Foreigners own 32% of America’s total debt. Even more alarming is that all of this out-of-control spending is not being invested in long-term ventures that will benefit present and future generations but it is spent almost entirely on maintaining the massive welfare-warfare state that provides only short-term benefits to present taxpayers while our children will be left to foot the bill and nothing to show for it. We are experiencing an unprecedented debt crisis. Romney’s solution is to reduce our debt without raising taxes, eliminating any cabinet departments, reducing military spending, or cutting Social Security, Medicare, or any other popular program. How he intends to pull off this miracle, however, remains a mystery because he refuses to share the specifics of his plan until after he is elected. The one intervention that he has declared to implement is to  bolster “free enterprise.” However, keep in mind that “free enterprise” coming from Romney means getting rid of all of those federal regulations that are smothering small businesses like Goldman Sachs.

We’ve accrued this debt and its our responsibility to start paying it off. Today. Otherwise we pass this yoke on to our children, and their children, and on and on. What short-term benefits our out-of-control spending habits may yield to us now is nothing in comparison to the blow to future Americans’ very livelihoods when they must pay off their parents’ reckless use of the “federal credit card”. Under a Romney presidency our debt will continue to rise and with nothing to show for it.

Healthcare:

Romney has promised to repeal Obamacare – just like every other GOP candidate. Yet, Romney was the mastermind behind the universal healthcare mandate in Massachusetts that made Obamacare even possible in the first place. He is quite literally the least qualified person in all of politics to criticize a universal healthcare plan so how he intends to sell this to the American people is unclear.

Economy:

With years of experience in business in the private sector Romney says he “understands economics.” However, his history speaks for itself:

If Romney’s strategy utterly failed at the state level then we can only expect the same should he implement his savvy “understanding” of economics at the national level. Perhaps he should take a word of advice from the late economist Friedrich Hayek who said, “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”

Abortion:

One notable difference between Romney and Obama is on abortion. Obama is easily the most pro-abortion president in the history of our country, but can we really expect Romney to reverse this trend or just sit on his hands making empty promises? Abortion is possibly the most emotional and controversial issue facing our country today and, given Romney’s history of bending with the wind, doing whatever is most politically expedient and never taking a firm stance on anything (at least, not for longer an election cycle), we can expect Romney to do absolutely nothing in defense of the unborn.

During his 1994 Senate Run, Mitt Romney argued that he was more pro-choice than Ted Kennedy: “When Kennedy called him ‘multiple choice,’ Romney demanded an extra rebuttal. He revealed that a close relative died of an illegal abortion years ago and said, ‘Since that time, my mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter, and you will not see me wavering on that.’” (Joan Vennochi, “Romney’s Revolving World,” The Boston Globe, 3/2/06). “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I have since the time that my mom took that position when she ran in 1970 as a US Senate candidate. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years we should sustain and support it.” (Joan Vennochi, “Romney’s Revolving World,” The Boston Globe, 3/2/06)

 When he went to conservative Utah, he changed his stance, “When I am asked if I am pro-choice or pro-life, I say I refuse to accept either label.” (Glen Warchol, “This Is The Place, But Politics May Lead Romneys Elsewhere,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 2/14/99).
But when he ran for office in Massachusetts again, he was pro-choice again, “I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose, and am devoted and dedicated to honoring my word in that regard. I will not change any provisions of Massachusetts’ pro-choice laws.” (2002 Romney-O’Brien Gubernatorial Debate, Suffolk University, Boston, MA, 10/29/02). In 2002, Romney Offered His Completed NARAL Questionnaire, Filled Out With “Mostly Abortion-Rights Positions,” To The Media Even Before Returning It To NARAL. “Yesterday, Romney also aimed to head off confusion about his stance on abortion rights by answering a Mass National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League questionnaire with mostly abortion-rights positions. He offered the questionnaire to the press even before he returned it to MassNARAL…”

Then he started thinking of national office as a Republican. That’s when he claims to have had his conversion. “Romney said he had a change of heart on the issue after speaking with a stem-cell researcher, Dr. Douglas Melton. Romney claims Melton said  ‘Look, you don’t have to think about this stem cell research as a moral issue, because we kill the embryos after 14 days.’‘It hit me very hard that we had so cheapened the value of human life in a Roe v. Wade environment that it was important to stand for the dignity of human life,’ Romney says.” (Karen Tumulty, “What Romney Believes,” Time, 5/21/07)

Keep in mind, however, that after his pro-life conversation he appointed pro-abortion judges, stated that he will “maintain the status quo” regarding abortion laws (see the above video under consistency), attended a Planned Parenthood fundraiser in 2004 despite his claims to de-fund the organization, and invested in two different companies involved in embryonic stem cell research – all of this occurring after his publicly recognized the sanctity of life and personhood of every unborn child.

And less than a month ago lifesitenews.com reported the following:

MIAMI, FLORIDA, May 17, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney scheduled a $50,000-a-plate fundraiser at the home of Phil Frost, the executive of the company that makes the Morning After Pill, on Wednesday night. Plan B One-Step is produced by Teva Pharmaceuticals, Frost’s company.

Pro-lifers, is this our champion? Are we really going to step into line for such scraps? If we are so easily manipulated into rallying behind such a lukewarm candidate, making every concession along the way then we can only expect the same complacency from the GOP, as well as the continued degradation of our liberty and our spiritual and material prosperity, for years to come. Meanwhile, over three thousand unborn children are killed every day in the US by government-endorsed abortion. Roe v. Wade took place nearly four decades ago; if we continue to settle for candidates like Romney who cater to the pro-life crowd based on political expedience then we are guaranteed another four decades before we see it overturned.

Conclusion:

Throughout his political career Romney has stood for everything – and therefore nothing – and in his capacity as a public servant the one that he has sought to serve has been himself, and the special interest groups that buy him off. Romney has a long history of increasing the power of government and then using that power to benefit his financial backers at the expense of the American public. Crooked banks like Goldman Sachs donate millions to Romney and in return he pushes an agenda of giving hundreds of billions of dollars to his friends in Wall Street, lifting regulations that prevent giant corporations from taking advantage of people and creating corporate-run bureaucracies. That is the classic definition of corporate fascism. Additionally, under a Romney presidency we can expect more unnecessary and expensive warfare abroad that only benefits the military-industrial complex, more national debt, a larger welfare-warfare state, a faltering economy, the continued stripping away of our constitutional rights and little to no progress on the issues of healthcare and abortion. Obama’s election was a direct reaction of the failed Bush presidency; I would hate to see what kind of man the American people would be desperate enough to elect in response to four years under the debacle of a Romney presidency.

The GOP’s siren song has been to “beat Obama at all costs” but the price that the GOP demands for the promise of such a “success” is monumental. To vote for Romney in an attempt to get Obama out of the White House is to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire. I, for one, will dig in my heels and vote third-party rather than grant my support to either a corporate fascist on the right or a socialist on the left – because the very integrity of our nation truly is too great a cost to pay. With that in mind, I leave you with the words of Carrol Quigley from Tragedy and Hope that so aptly sums up the current state of politics in America and, especially, this election cycle:

“The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to the doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can “throw the rascals out” at any election without leading to any profound or extreme shifts in policy.”

The Mainstream Media and how it Makes You Dumber


In The Wisdom of Crowds James Surowiecki convincingly argues that a large group of people can collectively  make smarter decisions than a few, or even a few experts, can. However, this is not always the case and one needn’t look any further than riots and mob rule for examples of group decision-making gone awry. This is because, Surowiecki argues, groups rely on four distinct principles in order to make smart decisions: decentralization, aggregation, diversity, and independence. To elaborate, the individuals of a group must be allowed to make their own decisions independently of each other, without being unduly influenced or coerced by others, the weight of their decisions must be decentralized amongst all the individuals, there must be a way to aggregate all of the individuals’ decisions into one, collective decision, and, possibly most importantly of all, the individuals that make up a group must display a wide diversity of opinion, ideas and personal expertise and knowledge – they mustn’t all be like-minded. Only when a group possesses all four of these traits can it make truly intelligent decisions – but with often incredible results.

However, the power of crowds to make collective decisions that would shame even the experts in their accuracy and refinement is an unstable one. If even one of the four traits of “smart” crowds, decentralization, aggregation, independence or diversity, becomes threatened then the collective genius of the entire group in question can easily become lost.

Unfortunately, the state of America’s media industry threatens not one but at least two of these traits: namely, diversity and decentralization. The illustration below demonstrates how:

With so much of the flow of information controlled by so few, to the point that Americans rely on media executives at a rate of 850,000 to one for their news its easy to see how both diversity and decentralization have been compromised – to the point that a few experts in the field are responsible for deciding 90% of what ideas, facts and stories you are exposed to. Ultimately this means that with the consolidation of the media industry into a few corporate giants the range of information that the average American is exposed to is standardized and thus, while it may remain at the same level, or even a higher level overall for any given individual, the aggregate of ideas the group as a whole is exposed to is sharply reduced, thus making us dumber as a society.

Economist Thomas Sowell refers to information as the most scarce resource of all, and never has it been more scarce than now.

The Economy of Greed


“God must love the common people – He made so many of them.” – Abraham Lincoln

The dynamics of the free-market combined with a strong rule of law necessitates that man must serve others in order to earn a livelihood, to please consumers to make money. Only by providing a good or service better, with more ease of use for the consumer, and for less, can a man expect to get rich.

Contrast this with Corporate America. With big government and massive federal bureaucracies that employ literally millions of Americans just to regulate the many aspects of a national economy, massive corporations counterintuitively gain power over consumers and industries as well. Why? Because the supposed “middle ground” between a free market society and socialism called Corporatism allows and even incentivizes men to get rich by buying off the politicians and bureaucracies that control so much. Its not a coincidence that many board members of government bureaucracies are also the CEOs of the very companies they’re meant to regulate. Massive corporations thus manipulate government regulations and use their political connections to receive subsidies and bail outs from Congress. Corporations that would fail in a free-market because of their repeated mistakes are instead fed with the money earned by the sweat of the American people and become leeches on society.

The government thus enables greedy people to build empires on the backs of the 99%. This is precisely the kind of anti-social behavior a free-market  can practically eliminate.

However, even if every issue brought to Congress wasn’t politicized for the purpose of advancing careers, gaining personal benefits and pushing ideologies, even if we could ensure that the intentions of every politician and every bureaucrat were pure and just then centrally planned economies like Corporatism or Socialism would still only lead to dismal failure. Why? Because, as the old saying goes, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. What matters, is not mere intentions (though we should always have the best intentions at heart) but actual actions and their consequences. The economy of a whole nation is incredibly sophisticated and every action has unintended consequences. Is price regulation with the intent of providing affordable goods and services a good idea if it means no one has pants but the market is being flooded with millions of buttons? These are exactly the kind of situations that plagued Soviet Russia. While warehouses were crammed with an overabundance of certain goods that no one was buying, people would line the streets for hours waiting for some much needed good in high demand but short supply.

It is precisely because of the sheer complexity of economics that the politician’s job regarding the economy is so simple: protect rights and prevent anti-social behaviors (like the pursuit of monopolies for example) – because to centrally plan a national economy is far beyond the competency of any human being, or even an army of human beings like that needed to run our bureaucracies. We don’t need, for example, a President who can “run the country” but one who will create the conditions necessary to allow each individual to make his or her own decisions and thus each affect the economy in their own small way. Because only God could possibly manage the infinite variables of a national economy without treading the path towards rampant poverty for all.

Instead of putting our faith in central planning, where the conceited few on the top make the decisions for everyone else we should instead relinquish the mirage of control. In a free-market society the masses make the decisions. No one person or group of people is in control pulling the strings. Instead, our society must be allowed to adjust to the practically infinite variables of our economy based on the trillions of little decisions made by 311 million Americans everyday.

By divvying up the economic power of a nation among millions it thus becomes very difficult for the CEO of a massive company or the regulatory board of a leviathan bureaucracy to seize control, to cheat or exploit, or to, in any other way, effectively act on dispositions of greed. No amount of economic intervention can eliminate greed but with a free-market and strong rule of law we can at least render it impotent.

Because, it is liberty and not Nietzsche’s Ubermensch, his superman, that is the prerequisite to economic prosperity.