Which do you trust less – Big Business (including Wall Street) or Big Government?
Robert Reich asks and answers the question “Which do you trust less – Big Business (including Wall Street) or Big Government?”:
But fundamentally, the debate is absurd.
It’s not the purpose of the private sector to protect the public. Companies like Goldman Sachs, Massey Energy, WellPoint, and BP will do everything they can to make money. They owe allegiance to their shareholders. Hopefully along the way they also make great products and provide terrific services. If the market is competitive, both consumers and investors gain.
The purpose of government is to protect and enhance the well-being of Americans. Its job is to protect the public from corporate excesses — enacting laws that bar certain actions that may hurt or endanger the public, and fully enforcing those laws.
We get into trouble when the two sets of responsibilities are confused – when big business and Wall Street spend vast amounts of money trying to influence government, and when government officials (including the officials of regulatory agencies) pull their punches because they’re aiming for lucrative jobs in the private sector.
The real challenge of our time has nothing to do with whether one trusts Big Business and Wall Street more or less than Big Government. The challenge is to keep the two apart, each focused on what they’re supposed to be doing. (That’s why, for example, I still think it unwise to have BP run the operation to plug the hole in the bottom of the Gulf.)
If I had to choose one, I would prefer “big government,” assuming we also live in a democracy. I think we can all agree both are bad when they become “too big,” (i.e. when private enterprise no longer answers to the law or when government stifles development).
Big government is the public relations department of big business.
When it was *our* business, and therefore *our* government, it wasn’t too bad. But now business and therefore government is globalist. Whether or not that will be good for the rest of the world I don’t know, but it explains why they’re plundering us, while they can.
I really don’t have much of a relationship with big government. My job is in the private sector. On a daily basis I interact with and purchase products from small, medium, and large businesses and corporations. I buy lunch from a small Greek owned sandwich shop, its private. Same with grocies. I bought a pass to work out at a local private university. And Now I buy a lot online from Amazon.com. They’re also private, so are the goods they promote, and so are UPS and Fedex who deliver them.
I use roads to get around – but that’s local government. Sometimes I go to the public library. I went to a state park last weekend, it was public. But they wanted money to park. So I guess my taxes didn’t pay for that.
At least he avoided the “who” – “whom” controversy. 😉
Min hits the reality of the core value of this discussion. As Reich said, the debate is absurd. Min, thankyou!
You don’t notice much do you?
“”Which do you trust less – Big Business (including Wall Street) or Big Government?”:”
An interesting question: and one to which you might already be able to guess my answer.
I trust Big Government a lot less than I do Big Business, even while I don’t trust the latter very much.
Business at least has to persuade me to part with what is mine: offer me something I want more to get me to give up what I have. Government is allowed to demand what is mine and shoot me if I don’t hand it over. That greater power over me is more likely to lead to greater abuse of power, no?
Reich starts like this
Representative Joe Barton’s apology to Tony Hayward for what he termed a “shakedown” of BP by the White House in order to get BP’s agreement to a $20 billion escrow fund, was the best thing to happen to BP since April 20, and the best boost for the White House in months.
In the short term Joe Barton’s apology seemed odd and and maybe tone deaf to the atmospher of the hearing room. But in the long term what Barton said was correct, what the Whitehouse did with the attorney general in attendence was a shake down. The hypothetical future payment was not out of some legal process like legislation or a court finding. The Whitehouse threatened to make trouble for BP and its executives and the company agreed to play along with the Whitehouse with a story about $20 billion in compensation. anyway, I’ll believe the $20 billion figure after its paid out. Right now it has all the credibility of one of those big pledges at a U.N. donar conference.
(Continuing from 10:03:12)
Robert Reich doesn’t suggest a way to keep them apart. Given the Supreme Court’s decisions on corporate personhood and campaign finance I don’t see how it can be done (and I would suspect Reich knows this perfectly well).
With regard to the topic Business vs. Government, he says in effect that it’s a false dichotomy because they each have their legitimate functions, and that our goal is to keep them separate.
I say it’s a false dichotomy because the two are effectively one and the same.
Almost everything about the political discourse we’ve known is moot; we should be thinking about how to manage our lives in a country ruled in effect by a foreign government. What we did to others is being done to us; where will you find a principled objection?
“Business at least has to persuade me to part with what is mine: offer me something I want more to get me to give up what I have. Government is allowed to demand what is mine and shoot me if I don’t hand it over. That greater power over me is more likely to lead to greater abuse of power, no?”
I agree with some of your expressed sentiment. No one likes knowing there is someone/something that has the power to force you to do anything. We LOVE the ILLUSION that we are free. However I prefer that that power over people exists somewhere and that WE are responsible for and responsive TO its actions. Responsive TO doesnt simply imply taking what it says quietly but responsive by redirecting it when it becomes too draconian. If we all operated under the idea that what we are doing is being observed by every one of our fellow citizens AND they are sitting in front of a console with the power to either approve or disapprove (and disapprove meant some sort of punishment) we would all act in a more responsible manner.
I take issue with your idea that something is ALL yours and thusly you have COMPLETE control over it. You make your money because of not in spite of the efforts of a lot of other people. You are what you are not solely on your own merits. A little more humility in the arena of what OURS is definitely in order in this country.
Our rugged individualism has turned into a mental disorder.
Other people will tell you more accurately what you are worth if you could shut up from your own self aggrandizement long enough to hear. (This was not just directed at you Tim)
LOL…we do agree. Let’s watch it play out. The bully pulpit has been used by many. ‘Shakedown’ implies ciminal? No law broken as far as I know.
At the moment, what do you suggest?
Big business. I believe advocates of big government mean well, but they wildly overestimate their resistance to becoming tyrants.
i worked for the fed for some time. it resembles the debate whether dogs are better than cats. there were the same ratio of morons, good workers, opportunists as in the general population. watch out for wall st. however.
It’s not illegal when the president does it.
“Business at least has to persuade me to part with what is mine: offer me something I want more to get me to give up what I have.”
Only if you don’t believe in externalities. When a gas driller decided to start drilling a few hundred feet from my living room and filling my living room with fumes, they specifically took no steps to avoid preventing my wife, my cats, and I from getting sick. There was no persuading us of anything – the first we knew of what was going on was when we heard a tremendous amount of noise. A day later we couldn’t breathe in the apartment we were renting. I can tell you straight up… nowhere in the lease I signed it did it say someone down the street could fill my apartment with diesel fumes, and the health damage would probably have been less had they decided to simply fire a few shots into my apartment at 2 AM.
I trust Big Business more because we can always hold business executives accountable by voting them out of office.
This is probably a false antimony. In reality in USA as well as most other industrialized countries big business and government enjoy some kind of symbiosis. So it’s not easy to tell where big business ends and where government starts (like in “Government Sacks” nickname of GS). Which some call a form of corporatism which became actually more pronounced under Bush II.
It’s interesting and somewhat disturbing that Tim Worstall post in which he essentially expressed standard “Tea Party” views got so much attention.
Such views somewhat reminds me of Weimar republic. Much depends on whether economic conditions deteriorate further or not. History never repeats but it rhymes.
Young people have a principled objection available, and conveniently the reasoning behind it comes from Jefferson. He thought laws should have expiration dates because otherwise one generation in effect exercises a dictatorship over the next. Specifically, one generation should not be able to force the next to pay its bills. Young people can point to my (older) generation and say “Hey, we didn’t sign up for that, we weren’t even born yet.” That sounds like a reasonable complaint to me.
An individual can declare bankruptcy. Banks count this as part of the cost of doing business, raising interest and fees enough to recoup the loss. But once a debt is assumed by government it is forever, with children and the yet unborn forced to pay it back or to pay interest forever. That can’t be right. The government thus becomes an agent of the bank, preserving zombie debt beyond the grave. This is why they wouldn’t stop the federal budget deficits when we could have, until now it is too late. Previous generations sold you into peonage, this seems clear to me. Now the government works for the banks enforcing collection.
Save the rustbelt’s answer is the optimal one, but in a country with this many people and so much money flying around, that’s an impossible situation.
So sufferin’ succotash knocks it out of the park. Business only has to care about the back-scratchers in the boardroom, who only care about profit and could not care less abouyt externalities or social results. Government is paid by and voted in by the public…at least theoretically. That means I take Big Government over Big Business every day, and twice on Sunday.
As Reich notes, the key is separating the two, and full public financing of elections would go a big step in that direction, since corporate bribes to legislators is the biggest reason behind the dangerous blending of Big Gov’t and Big Business that has landed this country in such trouble.
Getting BP to pay the wages of the laid off oil rig workers is a shakedown. BP is not blameworthy for this action — it was all the whitehouse. But the whitehouse said we’ll make it hard for you if you don’t cover us by picking up the bill for our action. People in the Whitehouse want to stay in power. Having BP pay to help them stay in power is a monetary benefit to buy them what they want. This seems like extortion on the Whitehouse’s part. Once you start down the path of lawlessness you can lose your sense of direction. The Obama administration with their actions are in peril of this happening to them.
Up to 80 cents on the dollar comes from the Fed Gov for roads. The internet is Gov spnsored as well as many other things. FedX and UPS use fed funded communications, roads, and airports, and airways.
Oh well….now you are off into unsubstantiated rants…
Each generation has its own obligation to fight for freedom, according to their definitions and priorities. But I like the idea of sending my kids a bill for food, room, and education. Er, maybe not if I forget how to pay my own in a few years. Maybe I should just talk to them and form a plan.
you are so naive. have you read no history at all? do you think government regulations were just started because a few people wanted to have regulations so they could build a big government and tyrannize, say, Standard Oil, or Armor meat packing?
maybe you never heard of a “company store.”
try to understand this: governments are nothing more than people cooperating with each other to protect themselves from the bad guys who are cooperating with each other to take advantage of the people who are trying to figure out a way they can cooperate with each other without creating a tyranny.
or do you only read Ayn Rand?
yes, another example of the government bullying a poor helpless corporation that, through no fault of its own has poisoned the Gulf and at least temporarily destroyed the livlihoods of millions of people.
you’d think we would have learned our lesson and let BP manage paying the damage claims… or do you consider courts the heavy hand of government too? … in their own good time. After all, what’s good for Big Oil is good for America, right?
you are absolutely right. the government should just trust the Industry to police itself, just the way BP did. there is absolutely no excuse for the government wanting to be sure that some other rig isn’t about to blow and throw a little more oil on the fi.. er, water.
now, me, i’d have shut them all down permanently. i think we might learn to live without all that oil. in our food.
if your dad puts a hundred thousand dollar mortgage on his million dollar house, and then dies leaving you the house with the mortgage, should his debt be cancelled? what about the house?
like it or not, the sins of the father are visited on the sons unto the tenth generation… or something like that. this is not an edict of an angry and capricious god. it is a law of nature.
frankly i don’t think your “debt” is so bad compared to the house you inherited. and, you may not have heard, we have elections in this country. we can change a lot of what we don’t like. the real problem is keeping the idiot kids from wrecking the good things their parents and grandparents built for them.
i actually agree with you about the resistance of some people to becoming the tyrants they hate.
but just for the record, i don’t hear many people who actually advocate “big government.”
You’ve got a point – we need to define the terms. Anybody want to define “big” as it pertains to business or government?
“you are so naive…governments are nothing more than people cooperating with each other to protect themselves from the bad guys who are cooperating with each other to take advantage of the people who are trying to figure out a way they can cooperate with each other without creating a tyranny”
What color did you say that kettle was?
I’ll avoid Godwin’s law here and simply ask if you’d apply that description to the governments of, say, Saudi Arabia or North Korea.
querido got it right.
My experience in military industrial complex is the business/profit side ran the government side into the ground.
Was not supposed to be that (or always) way, but someone deleted the line about “looking out for taxpayers’ scarce resources” from the regulators’ books.
i didn’t mention a kettle, or a pot. i tried to describe the fundamental nature of government. i believe i even mentioned that the peole who create a government have to be careful lest they create a tyranny.
i was replying to someone who seems to think that governments are ipso facto the bad guys and that businesses always have to ask your permission before they screw you.
it might be more profitable to observe that in any given situation there are likely to be some people who want the government to be bigger than the business that is oppressing them, and others who prefer to take their chances with a smaller government and their hope of a free market… which is another way of creating a “balance of powers.”
the problem we have here is that there are free market fundamentalists who believe, as far as i can tell, that the government is always bad and the “market” always works.
“It’s not the purpose of the private sector to protect the public. Companies like Goldman Sachs, Massey Energy, WellPoint, and BP will do everything they can to make money. They owe allegiance to their shareholders.”
this is nonsense. or evil nonsense. the private sector has a moral obligation to protect the public. unfortunately people being what they are, you can’t count on them doing it, either out of criminal intent, or normal self deception.
so we end up with government regulators. but we DO NOT therefore excuse business from its responsibility to protect the public. we do not tell them that their “first responsibility” is to shareholder value.
And actually, they do not often accept responsibility for shareholders wishes either. Mostly in big business this group is also frozen out of decision making.