Friday, February 25, 2011

Unregulated Capitalism Gone Wild

Destroyed the work economy and eviscerated public service union pensions.

Period. Full-stop.

The Republican Capitalism-Gone-Wild Solution?

Double-down and keep kicking working people in the gut until they spit up blood, agree to throw away their children's future and beg to work for sub-minimum wage.

And how long has this Kult of the Kochsuckers been lighting votive candles at the altar of Unregulated Capitalism-Gone-Wild?

A long...
"Regulation -- which is based on force and fear -- undermines the moral base of business."
-- Alan Greenspan, "The Objectivist Newsletter", 1963
"In Soviet Russia, the scapegoat was the bourgeoisie; in Nazi Germany, it was the Jewish people; in America, it is the businessmen."
-- Ayn Rand, 1961 Ford Hall Forum lecture
"One of the most widespread delusions of our age is the belief that the American worker owes his high standard of living to unions and to "humanitarian" labor legislation."
-- Nathanial Branden, "Common Fallacies About Capitalism", 1962*
* ("..former student and one-time romantic partner of novelist Ayn Rand, Branden had a prominent role in promoting Rand's philosophy, Objectivism.)
"If you want to gauge collectivist's theory's distance from reality, ask yourself: by what inconceivable standard can it be claimed that the broadcast airwaves are the property of some illiterate sharecropper who will never be able to grasp the concept of electronics, or some hillbilly whose engineering capacity is not quite sufficient to cope with a corn liquor still -- and that broadcasting, the product of an incalculable amount of scientific genius, is to be ruled by such owners?

"There is only one solution to this problem and it has to start at its base: nothing less will do. The airways should be turned over to private ownership. The only way to do it now is to sell radio and television frequencies over to the highest bidders...-- and thus put an end to the gruesome fiction of 'public property'."
Ayn Rand, "The Objectivist Newsletter", April 1964

"In a mixed economy, every government action is a direct threat to some men and an indirect threat to all. Every government interference in the economy consists of giving unearned benefits, extorted by force, to some men at the expense of others. By what criterion of justice is a consensus-government guided? By the size of its gang."
-- Ayn Rand, 1961 Ford Hall Forum lecture

"Should citizens have their wealth expropriated to support an educational system which they may or may not sanction, and to pay for the education of children who are not their own? To anyone who understands and is consistently committed to the principles of individual rights, the answer is clearly: No."
-- Nathanial Branden, 1963

For anyone who cares to look, moldering away in the yellowing pages of Ayn Rand's lesser works the entire ideological infrastructure of the Modern Right is laid bare.

Of course, unlike Heaven's Gate or Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple (which disappeared once the madness of their founders was fully unfurled), by appealing to rich sociopaths and rich-sociopath-wannabees, the Randite Cult is specifically engineered to be a for-profit enterprise and so it goes on and on (Believe me, if the Branch Davidians had had the foresight to make their insanity capitalist-friendly, today, instead of being vaguely remembered as "that nut who set himself and his followers on fire", David Koresh would have his own show on Fox.)

And so, as with other corporate-friendly cults such as Scientology and Mormonism, the well-heeled heirs of the franchise have worked very hard to quietly paper over the many dingbat ravings of its founder that got wired into their Holy Scripture, but it's all there: the totalizing ideology where "More unregulated capitalism" is the absolute answer to any and every question; the constant, whiny chant of aggrieved victimhood; the short, furious, declarative, Manichean paragraphs -- one after another after another -- stating quite bluntly that any tax for any reason is slavery, anyone not on your side is morally equivalent to a Nazi or a Soviet Communist, and that any compromise on anything is treason.

Business is inherently moral because all business is conducted on the basis of honesty and integrity.

Any government not exclusively devoted to protecting your property is illegitimate and based on extortion.

Monopolies never happen.

Trusts were uniformly good.

Government causes all economic depressions.

The American continent was empty and unowned by anyone until American industrialists arrived.

Industrial child labor was noble.

Before private property rights, there was no Civilization.

This is the base metal from which all Modern Conservative alloys are manufactured. Add misogyny, xenophobia, "...and the Negroes" and you have Limbaughism. Blend in a massive dose of recycled Bircher crackpot conspiracy mongering and you have Glenn Beck. Squirt it into a Baby Jebus-shaped injection mold and you have the anti-science, anti-evolution, anti-choice Christian Conservatives.

Then dumb the whole mess down about 70% and stick it into a pair of fuck-me pumps and you have Sarah Palin.

Of course, as is the case with virtually every other issue, Randites get the on-the-ground realities of the moderns industrial economic exactly backwards. Go into any thriving modern manufacturing company and you're not going to find John Galt in the back room tinkering together (out of nothing but spare parts and fictional Objectivist genius) a magical engine that pulls electricity out of the air (after which it is immediately expropriated by The Evil Gummint to power its sinister Contraptions That Make Your Kids Into Gay Socialists.)

Rather, you will find a small business -- say 50 to 100 people -- in its second or third generation, using very expensive, computer-controlled machines they bought from the American distributor of a profitable company headquartered in Switzerland or German or Some Other Loathsome Socialist Hellhole. In the back, you will probably find people with engineering degrees, sweating over some problem, or working on 3-D models of some part or another that they are specing out or improving upon.

Many of these engineers are graduated of some of America's finest public colleges, and were put through school in part thanks to your tax dollars. Most got to work that day thanks to roads your taxes paid for, or public transit systems your tax dollars subsidizes. A couple are out sick, but thanks to the worker's rights some union fought and died for 60 years ago, they can take those days off and avoid infecting the rest of their colleagues without fear of losing their job.

It is also a fair bet that their illness wasn't caused by waste water or toxic byproducts from the production process at their factory: thanks to government regulation and regular testing, the water they buy from the local provider (usually are very generous rates) is nearly as clean leaving the plant as it was when it was piped in. In fact, the plant is mostly clean, well-lighted and overall about as pleasant a place to earn a blue collar living as one could ask for.

Elsewhere you will find highly paid line workers programming the machines, tending and tweaking them according to a formalized process (borrowed from Toyota or Nissan or a company from Some Other Loathsome Socialist Hellhole) that maximizes the efficient use of the Very Expensive machines, and noting where things can be improved. Some of these workers are members of unions and some are not. Most of them are 50 or older and looking forward to retirement. Often they work in teams in areas called "cells" where they will work on several machines making several different parts at once.

Much of what this thriving modern manufacturing company does has been forced on them by overseas competition, especially from China: competition which steals their ideas, their patents and sometimes whole factories, and then puts them back into production halfway around the world using cheap (and sometimes slave) labor; which manipulates currency unfairly; which imposes massive tariffs and grossly distorts the market.

None of this is fair, of course, because the real capitalists -- the transnational corporations that write the rules -- don't want "fair trade". They want "free trade" which, in the end, simply means a winner-take-all world where he who has the most money wins.

At the other end of the spectrum -- at the consumer end -- our thriving modern manufacturing company is also feeling the pinch because a long time ago a group of people called "Conservatives" started preaching the "Fuck Everyone But Me" gospel of the absolute goodness of greed and the absolute virtue of being utterly self-centered. Which all seemed like a pretty fine idea to many of the owners of the manufacturing companies back in the day, because it meant that they now had an ideological justification for busting unions, slashing payroll and stopping expensive investments in training and new equipment.

Unfortunately, their consumers were in the back pews of the very same "Fuck Everyone But Me" cathedral, and their takeaway was:
"Fuck loyalty and screw this 'Buy American' crap."

But what about your neighbors?

"Caring about others is the root of all evil."

But what about the good of your country?

"Sounds like collectivist Socialist thinking to me. Look, if I can get my TV, food. clothes, coat hooks, dry wall, children's toys and whatever else for 11 cents cheaper from some industrial 3rd World forced labor plantation, why shouldn't I?"

Are you sure you're gonna like where this road leads?

"Of course! As a Noble Wealth Producer, I know that my great job at Maytag will never, ever go away! And if fucking over the American worker to save a few bucks is good enough for the Noble Wealth Producers at GE, it's good enough for me!"

See, the proles were never supposed to catch on to this dodge, but once they did, things started to spiral downward very quickly and the proverbial rope that Lenin once warned that Capitalism would one day sell to its own executioners was suddenly around the neck of the American Dream.

And so we come to the present day, and the on-the-ground realities of a typical thriving modern American manufacturing company -- with its aging workforce, modern, complex equipment and team-based structure -- fighting to stay alive against some forces created by its own folly, and some which are too big and powerful for it to control.

And what do we find they need more than anything else?

A few hundred copies of "Atlas Shrugged" perhaps?

Um, no.

See, since the skills involved in keeping the company profitable are no longer static, more than anything else they need a steady supply of well-trained workers to take the place of those who are coming up on retirement, and a means by which to retrain their existing workers every few years. And since there is no way in Hell these companies can afford to maintain their own standing training facility, staff and equipment (all of which must be constantly upgraded to keep up with rest of the industry) what they need more than anything else are excellent public schools. Grade schools, high schools, trade schools and community colleges. Schools that not only teach the technical material you will need to run one of these company's million-dollar machines without destroying it, but the ability to read, to do math and to work with others on a team.

Schools that must compensate their teachers well enough with Evil Taxes Extorted From Noble Wealth Producers to be able to attract and keep people who can accomplish this difficult feat day after day after day.

I could cite similar examples from other public institutions and other vital sectors of the economy all fucking day long, but this is just a free blog and not my Great American Novel, so lets just say that, absent strong and mutually respectful and mutual beneficial public/private/labor/management arrangements, the economic pillars that prop up the American Middle Class will be gone within my lifetime and the nation you and I once knew will cease to exist and be replaced by a Two Class feudalism of transnational corporations and their retinue of wingnut welfare think tanks, teevee networks and paid political employees...and peons.

Which, based on the evidence found in the original gospels of Branden, Greenspan and Rand, has clearly been the Conservative plan all along.


Hef said...

Swear to's times like this I wish I was G. Effing Soros and could give you the grant you need to write your great american novel. Sounds like it could be called " Atlas Didn't Puss Out and Shrug"...Atlas being the laboring schlubs that actually built this country. Fuck Greenspan, Rand and the whole sorry lot that screwed this country into third world status.

Anonymous said...

Keep it flamin' DG.

Just two comments.

As to: "The American continent was empty and unowned by anyone until American industrialists arrived." If ones spends any time at all debating reich-wingers, soon one realizes that the American industrialists arrived AS full-blown American's. That is, no attempt to explain our greed, blood thirstiness or refusal to learn from history will be accepted as part of Western European psyche of the founders.

And, in reference to:
"Any government not exclusively devoted to protecting your property is illegitimate and based on extortion."
Why, then, do these freaks worry about Obama's birth certificate rather than his apparent refusal or inability to deal with the burgeoning crisis of grossly illegal foreclosures?

John Puma

TJWombat said...

Wow. You fucking inspire me. One of the things I really appreciate about this blog as well as your podcast is your ability to articulate in no uncertain terms what the conservative ethos has become. It needs to be distilled down to it's essence and repeated throughout the blogosphere until it reaches a crescendo in the ears of the culture at large. For all of the phony criticism of elitism projected upon the leftist community, there in the words of AYN RAND is something far worse. It's the elitism of a ruling class who feel it their God given right to rule over all that don't aspire to the same values and beliefs. I dare say it's the building blocks of fascism which is where we are heading I fear.

RockDots said...

The only way this could be better is if it ended with,
"And another thing: David Brooks can go fuck himself!"

BenTheTipsyBear said...

@RockDots - if I may quote Cato the Elder: Brooks pedicando est. Think that captures the spirit, though it would require another person to perform the action upon him.

karen marie said...

@anonymous: "Why, then, do these freaks worry about Obama's birth certificate rather than his apparent refusal or inability to deal with the burgeoning crisis of grossly illegal foreclosures?"

Because those being foreclosed on are not members of the club.

Anonymous said...

Great post driftglass. KKKoch Industries is not very visible to the public, and it's clear they like it that way. They produce formaldehyde, fertilizer, ethanol, paper products, minerals and financial derivatives etc. (your basic unrepentant planet rapers) -- commodities that seldom requires them to directly face consumers, or conduct themselves ethically, or answer to angry citizens when their products do harm. Unlike many corporations and politicians, they're not very sensitive to public opinion.

So I wouldn't expect them to give a damn if a majority of likely voters oppose their political agenda. But the biggest enemy the Koch brothers have is a well-informed public, which is why they spend so much time and money creating astro-turf public opinion via the Tea drones. They're going to double-down on the strategy of deception and shadow string-pulling. It's all part of their business plan.

Anonymous said...

the ability to read, to do math and to work with others on a team.

You alienated the Palinistas right there, with your fancy-pants Yurpeen-gay elitism about "learning".

We can count on the teatards only to side every time with the rich, big corporations, authoritarian government, militarism, tribalism, greed and cruelty, like any Bully Culture.

In Palin Math "freedom" somehow equals "unrestrained private corporations". Because everyone knows how much freedom, not to mention dignity and respect you have as a corporate employee.

gruaud said...

It never had to come to this, but here we are.

Monster from the Id said...

*sigh* If only JFK and LBJ had found the good sense to stay the blistering sulfuric HELL out of Indochina, the Dems would never have fissioned, and the Randistas would never have found their opportunity.

While I'm wishing, I guess I could wish that Louis Napoleon had shared his great-uncle's military genius as well as his name. Strangle Bismarck's 2nd Reich in the crib and you prevent WW1, the USSR, the 3rd Reich, WW2, the Cold War...

Anonymous said...

DG, Well-put at always.

I see certain parallels between your description of the direction/trend our country is heading, and Kurt Vonnegut's book "Player Piano".

Just substitute 'large/multi-national companies" for 'government', and "punditocracy/beltway elites" for "engineers & managers [elites]" and I think that nearly 60-year old book describes today or our uncomfortably near future pretty well.

Reeks & Wrecks, all of us...

-Mike from CA

anna missed said...

Click my name for some portraits of Hindu (anti-goddess Alakshmi) Ayn Rand.

James Carroll said...

Driftglass, Bluegal
Your work renews me.
For personal reasons I boycott PayPal, Bank America Bank, On Capital One, ATT, Verizon et al. Please provide me with a mailing address so I can send a Donation by old fashion check.
Wish I could write like you.
Jim Carroll

Anonymous said...

So good. But the line that really caught my attention was, "...they need a steady supply of well-trained workers."

If you haven't seen it, use your Google machine and look for George Carlin's brilliant riff on "obedient workers" and the "American dream". Watch the best 3-minutes you will have this week and note the comments about workers and social security.


"But I’ll tell you what they don’t want. They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests.

"You know something? They don't want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table to figure out how badly they're getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago. They don't want that.

"'Ya know what they want? They want obedient workers. Obedient. Workers. People who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork; and just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime, and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it, and now, they're coming for your Social Security money. They want your fucking retirement money. They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street."

livingminimal said...

Few things make me happier than a full evisceration of Ayn Rand, Objectivism, and the idiots that marry it to their own "reality." Thank you, drifty. Excellent work.