Sunday, April 13, 2008

Golden Rules & Revolutions: A Series - II

April 13, 2008, 8:00 a.m.

Today is the second in a series, "Golden Rules & Revolutions." Here's the prior entry:

I - Income Disparity & Revolution
, April 12, 2008
. "Series Introduction," "Increasing income disparity, despair. . .," ". . . and Revolution"

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Golden Rules & Fascism

Part I of this series noted not just the gap in income between the rich and the poor, but the fact that this gap is continuing to grow ever wider, and that history -- as well as the daily news -- provides ample warning that this condition often produces revolution. Part II begins the exploration of the forces that may be shaping these potentially dangerous conditions.

The Golden Rule. The Golden Rule used to be, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." It's now become -- with the help of government -- "Those who have the gold make the rules." (Or, "Do unto others as much as you can get away with without going to prison.") In today's parlance, "the Golden Rule" has become, simply, "Gold Rules." (And it might be noted, with the collapse of the dollar producing $900-an-ounce gold the saying has taken on a whole new meaning.)

As I used to say when in government, "The problem is not that the special interests violate the law. The problem is that they make the law. They don't have to violate the law." (Since that time we've had a little problem with their violating the law as well.)

In future Parts there will be more effort to figure out the details of how gold influences rules. For now, here's one way of describing the relationship between government and business that the gold has created. There is, after all, a word for it, and that word is . . .

Fascism. Whether you call it "socialism for the rich and free private enterprise for the poor," or recognize its similarities to fascism, the ties between business and government are tight -- whether in the halls of Washington, Des Moines or the City Council chambers of Iowa City.

This is not a use of the word "fascism" in its colloquial, pejorative sense -- a sort of forceful, but excessively vague, label for a person or policy you really don't like a lot. It's simply a factual, value and emotion-free, description of what's going on.

Benito Mussolini, a prominent theoretician and practitioner of fascism, described fascism as "State intervention in economic production . . . [that] may take the form of control, assistance or direct management." Benito Mussolini, Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions (Rome: Ardita Publishers, 1935), pp. 135-136.

Others have noted the extent to which fascism involves "a regulated, state-integrated economic sector" and that "fascism in Italy combined elements of corporatism." And "corporatism," in turn, refers to "the promotion of the interests of private corporations [and] government over the interests of the public." [See Wikipedia's entries on Fascism and Corporatism, with numerous links to more academic sources.]

The use of tax breaks, subsidies, earmarks and TIFs -- the various forms of "corporate welfare" that put taxpayers' money into for-profit businesses -- necessarily creates a variation of "corporatism" and the "state intervention" Mussolini was writing about, and practicing.

Fascism. Isn't that pretty much what's been going on?

Tomorrow there will be some exploration of the form this takes in Washington.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you are being a little dramatic here. Special interests cut across every realm. Not just those of business.

How about the Democratic Leaders in the Iowa Senate trying to sneak a massive change in collective bargaining laws by on Good Friday? That was nothing but pure political payback. That was payment on the investment made by the unions in the same way any other economic interest does.

If anything, the fault here is with our fine Supreme Court who has equated money with free speech thus making some speech "more free" than others.