Obama's Crony Capitalism

It's time to separate market and state


When will you wing nuts stop referring to our economic restructuring as "socialism"? Winning the 21st century is all about business.

This week, a pro-business Barack Obama implored the rent-seeking CEOs of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to look into their sinister hearts: "Ask yourselves what you can do for America. Ask yourselves what you can do to hire American workers, to support the American economy and to invest in this nation."

Have our American businessfolk neglected to ponder the possibility that they could hire more employees and "support" the economy? Somehow I doubt it. But if corporate America is merely a cesspool of mindlessly selfish cretins who refuse to "invest" in the future by creating unproductive jobs to help build the subsidized ammunition we'll need to win future centuries, maybe they just need some prodding.

What we need is an economy run by technocrats to guide our business efforts through regulatory agencies, pick winners and losers, and mete out economic justice; business, as the president explained, should "share" their profits.

But which corporations are behaving admirably? Whom do we turn to in these dark times? Who can be bought to do the right thing?

"Right now, businesses across this country are proving that America can compete," Obama explained, listing a number of businesses that get it, such as Caterpillar, Whirlpool, Dow, and a company named Geomagic.

All of these phenomenal success stories (thanks to Ira Stoll at the blog "The Future of Capitalism" for pointing this out) also share, in one way or another, the privilege of feeding at gov'ment's welfare trough. Oh, yes, these exemplars of good corporate citizenry prove they can compete in a marketplace with taxpayer funds. Which will no doubt make them more compliant with the administration's wishes.

General Electric's CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, whom Obama recently appointed to lead his new panel on "job creation," understands this new reality. One of the nation's most effective cronies, Immelt's company has benefited from government bailouts, waivers, and lines of credit. A real icon of capitalism, Immelt.

On a completely separate issue, Immelt has also supported every initiative the president has forwarded from the stimulus—"Bold, visionary action!"—and cap and trade (under which, unlike you, GE would benefit financially), and he embraces all the subsidies that come with the progressive green agenda.

It's comfortable, no doubt, to be insulated from failure and market-driven innovation and competition. But even an administration as uncontaminated by greed and corruption as Obama's may become susceptible to political favoritism as it offers an ear and help to those who help it.

Now, we hear that the putrid job situation—kept at an illusory 9 percent through an exodus from the job marketplace—has nothing to do with instability created by regulatory overreach in various departments of government. It has nothing to do with a $1 trillion federal deficit or a $14 trillion debt hanging over the entire economy. And it's got absolutely nothing to do with a new health insurance mandate that brings higher taxes and costs with every new hire a company undertakes.

If this were true, the administration wouldn't have had to grant more than 700 waivers—40 percent to unions representing only 7 percent of the private work force of the nation—to help companies avoid the regulatory burden and cost of Obamacare even before all the goodness trickles down to the common man. These entities will be very grateful, no doubt.

But do we want more corporate welfare or less? Do we want more subsidized industries or fewer? What Obama has been championing might work for GE, but how it would work for the rest of us is a mystery.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of Nanny State. Visit his website at www.DavidHarsanyi.com.


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  1. But do we want more corporate welfare or less? Do we want more subsidized industries or fewer?

    Yes and yes.

  2. “When will you wing nuts stop referring to our economic restructuring as ‘socialism’?”

    You’re right. It’s fascism.

    1. Technically it’s corporatism. Fascists were mostly corporatists, but progressives were pushing corporatism as far back as the 19th century.

      1. Fascism was just the new rebrand of corporatism which was just the new rebrand of mercantilism. It’s all the same thing. As well calling it socialism isn’t far off the mark either, since this is essentially how all modern ‘socialist’ states are run.

        1. Oh, let’s not argue about who killed who….this is a festive occasion!

    2. “When will you wing nuts stop referring to our economic restructuring as ‘socialism’?”

      You’re right. It’s fascism.

      Tomato : tomahto

  3. In its infinite wisdom government not only knows better than you on how you should live your life, it knows better than businessmen on how to successfully compete in business.

    This helps explain the economic powerhouse than Egypt has become over the last 60 years.

    1. Your example is fallacious. Egypt didn’t have The Right People? in charge. We have Obama.

      1. …we have a sack of shit with big ears!

      2. It’s funny how each generation thinks it has The Right People… and each generation is wrong. Maybe we deserve Obama, Bush and all of their ilk…

        1. Or we could stop electing people who purport to be the “right people” and elect people who want to establish a minimalist state that acknowledges that all regulations inflict harms and try to regulate least.

          1. The catch-22 is that the “right people” wouldn’t want the job of governing in the first place.

            1. “Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.” Douglas Adams
              “There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don’t know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president.” Kurt Vonnegut

            2. You should check out Ron Paul’s platform. He’s had a consistent voting record over the past 30+ years to back up that he’ll follow through too.


          2. As long as everybody can vote everybody loses.

          3. Quite a simple fix you espouse; however, it doesn’t hold up to reality. Sure, lets send our kids back to the factories and eliminate mandatory education. How bout we allow any nitwit to own bazookas and anti-aircraft missiles? Let’s let the oil industry drill and nuclear power plants to operate unfettered and free! Really?? How about researching why regulations were instituted to begin with?

            1. You know Sypder, you’re a fuckin’ mumbling, stuttering little fuck. You know that?

        2. Are you sayIng we aren’t the people we’ve been waiting for?

  4. “Ask yourselves what you can do for America. Ask yourselves what you can do to hire American workers, to support the American economy and to invest in this nation.”

    Fascism and fascism.

  5. “Ask yourselves what you can do for America. Ask yourselves what you can do to hire American workers, to support the American economy and to invest in this nation.”


    1. Here’s what he should’ve said: ‘Y’all buy shit and sell shit. We’ll try to interfere much less while you’re doing it, and we’ll stop taking and spending so much money. See you next year!”

  6. Harsanyi deserves a lot of credit for pointing out that handouts to businesses come with a price. I am continually baffled by people from all parts of the political spectrum who think that big business runs the government. The state has every incentive to want fewer, more powerful players in a market because it is a lot easier to control a few beholden entities than the sorts of businesses that would flourish in a free market. Furthermore, the state can use these businesses as instruments of governance.

    1. And big business likes big government because it erects barriers to entry for smaller players.

      1. Correct. It was the partly the failure of the myth of the universality of economy of scale to give embedded capital an invincible advantage which created the incentive for government to create them.

  7. [Adolf Hitler on Nazism and socialism:] “Each activity and each need of the individual will thereby be regulated by the party as the representative of the general good. There will be no license, no free space, in which the individual belongs to himself. This is Socialism?not such trifles as the private possession of the means of production. Of what importance is that if I range men firmly within a discipline they cannot escape? Let them then own land or factories as much as they please. The decisive factor is that the State, through the party, is supreme over them, regardless whether they are owners or workers. All that, you see, is unessential. Our Socialism goes far deeper . . . .

    “[T]he people about us are unaware of what is really happening to them. They gaze fascinated at one or two familiar superficialities, such as possessions and income and rank and other outworn conceptions. As long as these are kept intact, they are quite satisfied. But in the meantime they have entered a new relation; a powerful social force has caught them up. They themselves are changed. What are ownership and income to that? Why need we trouble to socialize banks and factories? We socialize human beings.”

    Immelt is one of those human beings.

    1. You know who else said, “Each activity and each need of the individual will thereby be regulated by the party as the representative of the general good. There will be no license, no free space, in which the individual belongs to himself.” Hmmmm?

      Oh, wait, never mind…

      1. Yeah I kinda already took care of that. It makes me wonder though, what did anti Nazi germans say when they were trying to convey that hitler was bad news? “you know who else rounded up entire races and kept them concentrated in ghettos don’t you? Hmm?”

        1. You know who else undermined the rule of law in order to pursue his aims of nearly eradicating an entire people in an orgy of hate and greed?

          Yeah, that’s right Adolf — we’re comparing you to Andrew Jackson. Hey, pal, if the shoe fits…

          Although, given their resentment about WWI, maybe president Woodrow Wilson the First would have been a better option. But he just implemented federal segregation and supported eugenics and the sort of scientific racism that served as the ideological underpinning of the Nazi movement, without ever getting to the point of genocide.

        2. Russian Czars?

    2. Man! I thought I had been feeling a little deja vu thing going on for a the last few decades.

    3. “Each activity and each need of the individual will thereby be regulated by the party as the representative of the general good. There will be no license, no free space, in which the individual belongs to himself.

      Pretty close to

      Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country

      And we will tell you if you don’t know.-Obama administration

  8. Right on David!

    But… why blame the Jeffrey Immelt’s of the world? These guys wake up every day, look at the rules of the game as they’ve been established by the legislature, and think to themselves how they can win the game defined by those rules that day.

    The only way ensure that the maximum social value is produced by American corporate (i.e. collective economic) effort is to separate government and economics, just like government and religion are separated.

    Sorry, statists and “anti-corporation” leftists – but you and your government class are the problem. Not Jeffrey Immelt.

    1. While I agree that the ones who created the system are more to blame than the people who are gaming it, Immelt is still to blame.

    2. Out of curiosity, do you get mad at people who take welfare?

      1. Nope. I encourage them. Same with unemployment compensation, social security, medicaid, you name it. Don’t get mad at those playing the game. Get mad at those who wrote the rules and set the pieces up on the board. Admittedly, as some other commenters have pointed out, sometimes these people are one and the same.

    3. Thanks for stopping by, Jeffrey.

    4. Jeff Immelt IS the government class. There’s no difference between him and the hacks who currently get paychecks from the feds. It’s a rotating door.

    5. Except that it is the conservatives who exploit government for corporate gain far more than liberals in recent years.

      Look at how Cheney’s Energy Task Force carved Iraq into quadrants for BP, Texaco, Exxon, and Shell and kickstarted that war nine months before 9/11.

      Or see how Pharma wrote a price-fixed Medicare Welfare Pharma Prescription Plan in 2003 with the GOP, or how SCOTUS rulings on polluters were ignored by the Bushpigs.

      As typical the true fascists are on the right of the political spectrum – using war, religion and authority to garner profit.

      1. On what basis are Exxon or big Pharma “conservative”? Because they seek to make money? Weak sauce. They are rent-seekers, end of.

        1. I didn’t bother to read it. Is he claiming to be a stock holder in a non publicly traded company again?

        2. It should have said “conservatives are more likely to cooperate” in crony capitalism.

          Its obvious that C-level executives will pay any whore for their services.

          For instance, fracking was illegal until the GOP packed the regulatory body and changed the rule.

          1. “It should have said “conservatives are more likely to cooperate” in crony capitalism.”

            Zero proof, again. Can’t you at least call me a Christ-fag or something?

            1. I gave you two examples above, you dumbass. The little Iraq Oil Project will cost $2 trillion and 4400 US lives and the idiot Bushpigs never got their Hydrocarbon Law that justified their little nation-building exercise – and the Medicare Pharma Act will cost us $60 billion per year forever.

              Until you assholes quit worshiping the goddamn GOP you will continue to hire Big Gov reprobates like Bush/Cheney.

              Notice how the GOP hates Ron Paul?

              1. Well, thanks for the insult at least. But you still haven’t proven anything close to your argument that It should have said “conservatives are more likely to cooperate” in crony capitalism.

                The same companies that jammed us under Bush are jamming us under Obama. Your slavish devotion to the sainted Community Organizer is blinding you the facts.

              2. Which US companies are in Iraq? As far as can tell, they were shut out of the auction for Iraqi oil fields.

                Will the nonsense that we invaded Iraq to enrich US oil companies ever end?

            2. I think the shrike creature is trying to claim that owners of certain corporations (i.e. the American people through their retirement funds) are “conservatives.” And those owners (the American people) put W in charge and told him to go do bad things in the world so that they could profit from it.

              I guess, since the American people (literally and directly) voted for George W Bush, it’s kind of an irrefutable position for shrike to hold.

              I’m just not sure it makes the point he wants to make.

          2. So that explains why most multi billionaires milking the system are conservatives? Oh wait, they are progressives.

            You can blame the conservatives for a lot (patriot act), but the claim that they are most prone to game the system is asinine. Gates, Buffet, Soros, Immelt, every damned government welfare doll in Hollywood, etc, etc.

      2. Re: shrike,

        Except that it is the conservatives who exploit government for corporate gain far more than liberals in recent years.

        World – meet yet ANOTHER nitwit who believes corporations = conservatives.

        As typical the true fascists are on the right of the political spectrum – using war, religion and authority to garner profit.

        You got the fascist thing right, at least, in the sense that they will use ANY excuse (liberal or conservative in nature) to garner profit at the expense of everybody else.

        1. You know I don’t think that. Most CEO’s I know of by name are liberals.

          All these fucking threads are the same. Some faux-libertarian conservative slams liberals – then I point out how bad the Bushpigs were and they get their tampons stuck deeper.

          Bush/Cheney should have killed off the GOP they were so bad. Instead, the God/Guns/Gays crowd of religious whackos will make sure they never fall below 45% know matter how much they fuck up.

          1. Wrong as usual. You were the one who singled out conservatives as being “more likely” than liberals to be rent-seekers, you weren’t responding to shit. Everyone else in this thread knows it’s a plague on both houses.

          2. The problem is not that you’re anti Bush. Who here isn’t? The problem is you made a false claim.

            Right now conservatives are the more smaller government group, hence the fascists/progressives are mostly ‘liberals’. When the situation was reversed they were mostly ‘conservatives’.

          3. Re: shrike,

            You know I don’t think that.

            Well, how can I tell with you, if you write things like this: “Except that it is the conservatives who exploit government for corporate gain far more than liberals in recent years.”

            Some faux-libertarian conservative slams liberals – then I point out how bad the Bushpigs were and they get their tampons stuck deeper.

            Hey, nitwit – you get slammed because you want to argue that liberals, SOMEHOW, are less the fascists the conservatives are. THEY’RE BOTH just different WINGS OF THE SAME VULTURE! They’re both fascistic, shrike, in that they seek to employ the coercive power of the State for their own plans.

            1. A bit of excess force used, but your comment rings true. Power seeks power: plain and simple. Both Dems and Repubs serve their base. The problem seems to be a matter of balance; as citizens fail to inform themselves and abandon critical thought, they are manipulated and relinquish political/economic control to a few.

      3. Well put Shrike, you’ve saved me some keystrokes. I find much of the unreasoned and insupportable comments here both amusing and scary. Very few of the participants bother to review even the last 30 years of American History. Now there’s a problem.

    6. Absolutely. Bill Gates is a perfect example. He became a crony capitalist only after he learned what the government likes to do to arrogant little geniuses who revolutionize the world without needing any bills passed or wheels greased. He left no way for any politician to claim partnership in his innovations so they came at him with their anti trust bullshit and tried to destroy him. Now he’s a good little subservient government sanctioned capitalishist. And I don’t blame him either.

      Immelt is still a shitbag though

  9. General Electric has been a major player is supporting an American brand of fascism for a very long time. So far, it has paid off for them considerably.

    From the indispensable America’s Great Depression


    The Spread of Collectivist Ideas in the Business World

    Meanwhile, strange collectivist plans for ending the depression were brewing in the business world. In September, Gerard Swope, head of General Electric, far surpassed the radicalism of his old public-works proposal by presenting the Swope Plan to a convention of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association. The Plan, which garnered a great deal of publicity, amounted to a call for compulsory cartellization of American business?an imitation of fascism and an anticipation of the NRA. Every industry was to be forcibly mobilized into trade associations, under Federal control, to regulate and stabilize prices and production, and to prescribe trade practices. Overall, the Federal Government, aided by a joint administration of management and employees representing the nation’s industry, would “coordinate production and consumption.”[29] To its grave discredit, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed this socialistic plan in December by a large majority, as a means of employing Federal coercion to restrict production and raise prices. Leading the march for approval was the new President of the U.S. Chamber, Henry I. Harriman, of the New England Power Company. Harriman wrote, in his report of the Chamber’s Committee on the Continuity of Business and Employment, that “We have left the period of extreme individualism. . . . Business prosperity and employment will be best maintained by an intelligently planned business structure.” With business organized through trade associations and headed by a National Economic Council, any dissenting businessmen would be “treated like any maverick. . . . They’ll be roped, and branded, and made to run with the herd.”[30] The president of the National Association of Manufacturers wanted to go beyond the Swope Plan to forcibly include firms employing less than fifty workers.

    1. GE was recently listed as the “most owned stock on capitol hill.” GE received 18 billion in toxic asset purchases from the federal reserve. GE is first and foremost a bank for all intents and purposes.

  10. Here in New England, like most everywhere else, we’ve been getting clobbered with snow.

    Unfortunately some inconsiderate jerk invented this job-killing device called the ‘snow plow’.

    Thanks to this device one person can do the work of hundreds, putting those hundreds out of work.

    To make matters worse he can do it for a fraction of the cost, leaving dollars in the hands of customers who then spend them on cheap Chinese made goods further depriving Americans of work.

    I propose we ban the ‘snow plow’ immediately.

    This will solve our unemployment by putting teams of people to work clearing snow.

    Furthermore it will solve our trade deficit with China by depriving Americans of the dollars that they waste on cheap Chinese shit.

    Sarcasmic for President!

    1. Cthulhu did not give you permission to run for President. Now you’re going to get eaten.

  11. GE was also a big supporter and part author of the National Recovery Act, which allowed industry to collude to set production quotas, and so on.

  12. arbeit macht frei bitches

  13. FROM HERE:

    What does Ralph Nader’s denunciation of “corporate socialism” concede except that the corporations owe their current privileges, not to laissez faire, but to government intervention? Which leads us to now ask: What exactly is the “capitalism” of these anti-capitalists? Is it “Little England”-ism or mercantilist imperialism? Free trade or protectionism? Laissez faire or interventionism — A or non-A? Just as theocracy cannot denote both the union and the separation of Church and State, so capitalism cannot be both the union and the separation of Firm and State.

  14. I still think “wall of separation between market (or business, or economy) and state” is a nice slogan, insofar as it makes analogy to the difference between free religion, prohibition of religion, a state religion, a religious state, and a religion-state.

    If Church::Business, then we’re talking about economic liberalism, communism, corporatism, crony capitalism, and dystopian cyberpunk corporatocracy respectively.

    Since even moderate liberals grok the whole freedom of religion thing, and recognize that, far from letting religions run the nation or get away with things, it has protected us from them, they may make the connection to business. Maybe not, but at least it’s a shot.


      Here Chomsky erects an analogy between the Church and the Corporation that immediately collapses of its own weight. The classical liberals did not view religion the way socialists (of any stripe) view business. The classical liberals did not advocate the abolition of religion — by either government or “anarchists.” They did not declare that the religious “power” of the Church must be destroyed or even regulated. They did not condemn the Church as a totalitarian institution whose hierarchy oppresses the masses — and then call for the obliteration of the free market of religion. They did not call for all religion to be placed “under popular control.”

      The only “power” of the Church that the classical liberals opposed was its tie to the State; all they demanded was that government remove itself from religious affairs. And they didn’t call for the oppressive functions of the State’s power (e.g., persecution of dissenters) to be placed “under popular control,” but for those functions to be abolished. Government wasn’t democratized; it was limited — to the protection of life, liberty, and property.

      If the Church and the Corporation are to be considered equivalent institutions, then both are to be either equally separate from the State (the classical liberal — and modern libertarian — position) or equally subject to the State (the position of all socialists — from the Russian Revolution’s totalitarians to the Spanish Civil War’s “libertarian socialists” and “left-wing anarchists,” who destroyed churches and slaughtered believers, among other acts of “revolutionary” violence). For the former, it means that government protects economic liberty and doesn’t persecute “economic power,” just as it protects religious liberty and doesn’t persecute “religious power.” In American terms, it means having the Corporation as unnationalized, unregulated, untaxed, and unfunded as the Church — again, the separation of Firm and State.

      1. I can’t quite tell whether that means you agree or that you don’t, but ok.

  15. Ask yourselves what you can do to hire American workers, to support the American economy and to invest in this nation.

    Any CEO who hires American workers, etc., when it is not the most profitable choice, has violated his fudiciary duty to his shareholders, and should be fired and sued into penury.

    Companies do not exist to provide jobs, pay taxes, or otherwise magnify the glory of the collective. They exist to earn profits for their owners. Period. Full stop.

    This used to be understood, to the point where it was a violation of fiduciary duty for a company to make a charitable contribution without a majority vote of the shareholders, and any CEO who took it upon himself to dispose of the shareholder’s assets in that way without their approval was personally liable to them.

    1. Can’t either be rationalized as PR expenses (provided that they’re widely publicized)? It’s just as justifiable as marketing.

  16. Americans for the Separation of Firm and State…

    …wait for it…

  17. Well, there are some good reasons to hire American workers, when I call Comcast I’m glad I get to hear southern accents instead of some Indian, I really hate the Indian accent, so you see? Comcast has decided to please millions of people like me by hiring Americans.

    In the end, the reasons must be based on individual needs and not government wants.


    1. Shhhh! Nobody tell him!

  18. “Ask yourselves what you can do for America. Ask yourselves what you can do to hire American workers, to support the American economy and to invest in this nation.”

    You know, this is the first statement I’ve heard from the Obaminator that actually makes him sound like a leader. A good leader should pose challenging questions to America as a whole and sectors of it that reflect areas of problems. Even offer statements of recourse that may be of assistance in further planning of how to alleviate important issues that face our nation as a whole. But then of course they screw it all up by enforcing ridiculous policies and favoring less free market options by favoring “unholy” political alliances between gov preferred biz over their competitors. Gov’s very actions do more to create the imbalance than any real world situation to address it. If there was any honesty between any of them the first order of business would be a discussion on how to phase out the arbitrary continuation of over reaching regulatory practices and the ending of fleecing by the gov to fund pet projects and continually give them the false notion that it’s ok to continue debt spending practices because the institutions will support this thru the raping of their supposed future profits.

    I do take issue that American companies are fleeing American workers as fast as possible. I do believe there are many missed opportunities and better values for American companies to stay more grounded in the US with their work force and I have a real prob with companies moving the majority of their workforce outside the borders of the US into areas with questionable work ethics, all the while keeping their management structure in US to be afford the benefits and protections that is given to it by doing so. I just don’t believe gov interventionism and corporate welfare is the answer to this prob. While there may be some areas the gov is at duty to address on this issue it is not the areas or ways it has been dealing with it. Most this issue needs to be directly brought to and influenced by the American ppl to sway public opinion and act in a way that supports effective change in the practices and thought process of these businesses.

  19. It appears to me that GE is the new Amurkin version of Krupps Steel in early/mid 20th century Germany.

  20. A lot of people MBT Kisumu 2 do not yet know, global food has become a part of people’s life MBT Kisumu sandals

  21. The world is getting kobe 7 shoes for sale better every year and the last thing we need to do is lebron 9 china for sale question the need for centrally planned economies.

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