Government and Capitalism
I’ve been reading this exchange and I think one thing to be added to the discussion is to mention that one major things wrong with our current system of capitalism (in the US at least) was accepting the idea tha corporations would be treated like people and that problem was further compounded by a supreme court ruling that basically said that states couldn’t revoke corporate charters–giving corporations immortality and few tools for society to control them if they were acting antisocially. Eliminating special benifits for corporations and holding corporate officiers criminally responsible for the actions they take for the corporations would do a lot to mitigate some of the negatives of capitalism as it is practiced currently in the US.
There is something to be said for liberty applying to economics if it is going to be realized in the political sphere. However, all economies require rules and the power of enforcement of those rules. Markets use courts to enforce contracts. On the other hand, guilds were very successful in regulating professions for hundreds of years in the period before capitalism. Associations, like guilds, that are not government but do have power have been useful in organizing societies interests, but in the case of professional guilds they haven’t typically promoted liberty of profession at large.
The more I think about these topics I can see why Jefferson thought small farmers were the key to democracy. They were self sufficient in necessities, but had a surplus to trade with the world off their farms so were interested in free markets. Being beholdent to no one is a great step to keeping people free. Markets are best when all parties are free, equal, and have a high degree of relevent information. To the degree that is not true, markets are not helpful and other forms of social organization might be useful–especially when organized along democratic principles.
What happens when there are fundemental differences of opinion in a free society, say about what to do with the surplus–growth or prosperity? Who owns the economic surplus of a society? Is it privately or publicly decided what to do with it? How is individual liberty balanced with the liberty of the whole society? Is the political system there to support the economic system or vis-a-versa? Is it okay for individual actions to destroy the environment for everyone? What roles do incentives and coersion play in individual choice and group choices?
hi david thanks for the post.
i am glad you have focused your attention on the subject which i introduced rather than going off on a tangent as so many times happens to these threads. i have done some research on the issue of corporattions ability to claim the same or greater rights as people. what follows is a post i have found which sums up how the train literally got derailed in 1886. i think it would be good for us to look a little more closely at how this happened and how the law has evolved since then.
jefferson’s vision of a nation of small farmers may yet come to fruition.
i thisnk you will find the following interesting .
Thanks. Very interesting article. Gets at some serious problems that need to be addressed. Makes me wonder who was supposed to interpret the constitution as intented by the framers of the constitution. Is there a short answer to that that you’ve know?
chief justice marshall was a heavyweight for the court and he was the one who got it sstablished that the supreme court would decide what the constitution really meant. i am going to dive a litlle deeper into that in the near future. i have not had the time lately. maybe some of our more knowledgeable posters will have some insight.
a mayor of a small town near me told me about the 1886 case otherewise i would not have known it. at the time of the ruling the southern pacific was owned by the"big four" one of whom was leland stanford. they were the ones who completed the western half of the railroad. seems like big money won again.
i feel whatever happens we need ot decentralize it is too easy to co-opt the federal government and in so doing corporations have gooten unlimited pwer over the entire country. the states need to reassert themselves.
[quote=joe2baba] i feel whatever happens we need ot decentralize it is too easy to
co-opt the federal government and in so doing corporations have gooten
unlimited pwer over the entire country. the states need to reassert
This country was set up to be a federation of sovereign states. As such, the federal government does not have the same democratic safeguards as do the states. The president is the single person in the entire executive branch who is elected; not the attorney general, nor the secretary of state, nor any of the regional officials, as would be the case within a state. The federal government was originally meant to deal only with the state governments, which were considered powerful enough to meet it on an equal basis. The current fashion of using the federal government as a type of national government is very dangerous.
The decentralization of power through the federal system was one of the chief safeguards to our liberty. We would do well not to weaken it through over-centralization of power.
Incidentally, the states’ own commonsense laws of fiscal responsibility have weakened them. While most states (which wisely require their own budgets to be balanced at all times) are bankrupted by inflation, the federal government first taxes as much as it pleases, and then steps in fill the gap state’s funding gaps with freshly printed bills from the federal reserve. As it stands, there is no check on the fiscal profligacy of the federal government. 25% of our GDP goes to support it.
The IRS ought to be abolished, and in its place we should return to the old system, whereby the individual state departments of revenue collect the taxes, and then forwarded to the US Treasury the amount owed to the federal government. Then the states, and through them the people, would have at least some de facto control over the excesses of the federal government. And why not? Those excesses are their own personal liabilities.
The way it operates now is almost unbelievable: The federal government has agreed to loan money to states, such as California, which are almost bankrupt! The mere idea of the states being indebted to the federal government is sinister. The federal government takes money from the citizens of a state by taxation, and then loans it back to them with interest! The perversity is too overt to be ignored.
joe2baba – great article on Jefferson &
Madison- thanks for posting it!