A few years ago, Ron Paul and Ralph Nader had a joint interview. While this by itself is noteworthy, the topic was one of where the two men agreed. When I read about this interview, my mind was blown. On the same stage, two men who were complete polar opposites politically were actually talking about a topic where they had common beliefs. It was incredible as in today’s political climate such thing is not to be tolerated.
The topic in which these two diametrically opposite men had common ground was the dangers of corporatism. Corporatism, by the dictionary, is the notion that the state or an organization is controlled by large interest groups. In politics, one can say it is the control of the government by special interest groups.
In general, Paul defines corporatism as the control of business by the government. Unfortunately, I have to respectfully disagree with this definition. Paul’s definition only considers one aspect of what one can consider to be corporatism. While corporatism can be as Paul describes, it can can also be the control of government by business. In either case, the end result will be the same, the government and private sector collude to take power from the people and to further enrich themselves.
Corporatism is a danger for a number of reasons. Free markets and corporatism are not compatible. In corporatism, special interest groups use the government to manipulate the market and economy in a way that benefits them. This manipulation goes contrary to the definition of a free market. It reduces competition as the special interest groups seek to have regulations that limit competitors from entering the market and to force competitors to leave the market. Additionally, this manipulation can be in the form of garnering special treatment such as subsidies or government contracts.
Individual liberties are also a casualty of corporatism. The government can pass laws that further the interests of government and business over those of the people. These laws can be used to apply direct and indirect force on individuals to coerce them to “be good citizens” or to “be good consumers.”
There are numerous examples of corporatism in both our state and federal governments. One such example is Obamacare. One of the worse aspects of Obamacare is the individual mandate. This part of Obamacare requires everybody to purchase health insurance for face a tax penalty. Supposedly, this provision is to force people to take responsibility for their health care. However, what it also does is ensures a that people will have to purchase policies from the health insurance companies. In other words, the provision limits our freedom in a way that further enriches special interest groups.
Another example of corporatism is the military industrial complex. The United States has the largest military budget. This budget is the result of this country constantly being in some sort of conflict. The policies that create these conflicts can almost always traced back to special interest groups that have ties to corporations that provide military hardware.
Corporatism is not only practised at the federal level. It is also practised at the state level. One example of this is the push by state governments to reduce environmental regulations. While environmental regulations are a burden on corporations, many of them were passed to protect our rights. When corporations pollute our air, land, and water to the point that it causes harm, our rights have been violated. When the states reduce these regulations, they are essentially allowing the corporations to violate our rights.
Has this country become a corporate state? Officially, this country is a democratic republic. In theory, we have the ability to elect our leaders. However, our election process is such that a candidate cannot hope to be elected unless he or she has support from the corporations (either through the media or campaign contributions). If that is the case, is this country truly a democratic republic?