American politics as we know it today began in the Great Depression of the 1930s and especially FDR’s New Deal. My history professor at the University of Colorado in 1972 called that era the third American Revolution, the Civil War being the second. The great myth that came out of that age was that the Democrats were the party of the blue collar working man and the Republicans were the party of big business. This myth has been powerful and has benefited Democrats greatly. They have fought hard and successfully to keep it, even in the face of much evidence to the contrary. It is a testament to how hard it is for people to change their minds once an idea becomes firmly ensconced. We all want to have a basic understanding of the world we live and won’t easily give up those things we take for granted as settled.
Nevertheless, it is and has always been a myth held by millions of people. All who believed it, and until recently that has been a majority of American voters, were mistaken. Many still believe it today as we approach a reality in which they will not be merely mistaken, but delusional.
The reality of today is that both parties support bug business and the leaders of both parties are rent-seeking bloodsuckers of large corporate enterprises they seek to control with government power. The Democrats, however, have been the most successful at playing the crony capitalism game. The new reality to which America is headed straight for at breakneck speed is aptly described by John Cochrane. He blogs at The Grumpy Economist. In a recent post, actually a long and brilliant essay, The Rule of Law in The Regulatory State, he said this:
We’re headed for an economic system in which many industries have a handful of large, cartelized businesses— think 6 big banks, 5 big health insurance companies, 4 big energy companies, and so on. Sure, they are protected from competition. But the price of protection is that the businesses support the regulator and administration politically, and does their bidding. If the government wants them to hire, or build factory in unprofitable place, they do it. The benefit of cooperation is a good living and a quiet life. The cost of stepping out of line is personal and business ruin, meted out frequently. That’s neither capture nor cronyism.
“Bureaucratic tyranny,” a phrase that George Nash quotes Herbert Hoover as using is a contender.
What Cochrane is saying, I think, is that we have moved beyond just cronyism to an enmeshment of government and large corporate business cartels. The word for that is fascism.
This has tremendous benefits for both politicians and the cartelized businesses. Politicians get campaign contributions and good press (the national media also operates like a cartel) to keep them in office, sweetheart investment deals to make them rich, and the power to control the national treasury. The top business moguls get to eliminate their competition and some control over the amount and nature of the laws and regulations affecting their business.
Both have made Faustian bargains with the devil. In the long run they can’t control their fate, but in the short run it is the rest of us who suffer under tyrannical government, high taxes, low wages, stagnant economic prospects, regulations into every nook and cranny of our lives, and dashed hopes for a future in which we can flourish by our own talents and industry.
There is blowback to all this regulation as the information economy forms. The fight about Uber is emblematic, and instructive. People love the sharing economy. It turns out, government bureaucrats and the cartels they oversee hate it. Who is going to win? It’s up to us.
The politicians and the plutocrats they support hate the sharing economy the same way and for the same reasons the Mafia hates a shop keeper who refuses to pay for protection. The difference is the shop keeper may get some help from the police. Or maybe not, because the Mafia only exists when the police are bought off. Same with the cartels. They have bought or are buying the politicians and bureaucrats. The symbiosis in which both groups exist and thrive is formable. All we have is our vote, and our free speech. That’s why they are trying to dilute our vote with illegal immigration and stifling our freedom to speak out with threats of prosecution for “hate speech.” Take a look at how the latter is progressing in Canada and the UK for a glimpse of America’s future if we don’t stop it first.
Nearly all Democrat politicians have already been sold to the highest bidder. So have the establishment types in the Republican party. Fortunately, there are some new younger Republican politicians who give us hope for change, hoping for restoring America to a democratic republic founded on liberty protected by the rule of law. The current 2016 election lineup of hopefuls is encouraging. Most of them have not been bought and give every indication that they can’t be bought. We can only hope, and learn by reading such lights as John Cochran and Jeff Carter, and understanding what we must do before it is too late.