The free market. Capitalism. Call it what you will. The truth is that people often don’t understand the difference between capitalism and what we currently have. They mistakenly call our current mixed economy capitalism, and they blame companies that try to stamp out competition as being capitalistic. They’re wrong.
Today, many companies spend a great deal of money on lobbyists that take their wish list to Congress. That wish list does occasionally call for relaxing of some regulations, but more often than not it calls of increases in regulation. Why? Because they like the idea of making in harder to enter the market and provide competition. Increase regulations also give them the benefit of possibly stamping out smaller competitors. That forces consumers to go to one of the big guys for their products.
This, my friends, is not capitalism in any way, shape, or form. It’s not. This is corporatism, plain and simple.
In capitalism, these regulations designed to stamp out the little guy wouldn’t exist. Would the little guy thrive? Maybe, maybe not. It would be up to that little guy to make it though. He (or she) would have to work hard, make good decisions, and convince his potential customers that they should be from his company. If all that comes together, then he’ll survive just fine. If not, well…it’s all on him.
Capitalism isn’t a pretty system, but it actually is the most fair. When progressives talk about fairness, they never consider capitalism as being just that. However, it really is. An open market, where each individual is free to determine their own destiny. If they want to start a company, there’s not a governmental body standing in the way trying to keep them from it. There’s nothing to it but their own determination and skill.
I am generally against most all government activities in the marketplace, especially those that involve social micromanagement; however, there is one idea that started on the left and has been making its way through the libertarian sphere that has some good potential. I am talking about a revenue neutral carbon tax, one which reduces or completely replaces other taxes such as payroll, income, capital gains/dividends, etc.
President Barack Obama has frequently claimed that he has no lobbyists working in his administration. But that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. In fact, the Obama Administration is filled with lobbyists. And with the appointment of Tom Wheeler to head the Federal Communications Commission, which oversees the communications and technology industries, it’s about to get another one.
Over at Reason, Peter Suderman explains that Wheeler, who will replace outgoing FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, was a top bundler for both of Obama’s presidential campaigns and he appears to have interest in seeing the role of the FCC expanded, which isn’t a good sign:
With less than a month to go before voters head to the polls in South Carolina’s First Congressional District, Elizabeth Colbert Busch’s campaign has resorted to race-baiting in a new radio spot:
The ad accuses South Carolina Republicans of trying to disenfranchise black voters in South Carolina – which is an especially ironic charge in light of the allegations at the heart of the “Richland County Robbery” (in which black elected officials and a black elections manager did this).
“Somebody doesn’t want African Americans to vote – and it doesn’t take Shaft to figure out who,” the ad’s narrator states, with Isaac Hayes ripoff music bumpin’ in the background.
The ad then proceeds to bash former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford, who is running against Colbert in the May 7 special election for the South Carolina first congressional district.
FITSNews has the audio of the ad, which you can listen to here.
Back during the 2008 election, then-candidate Barack Obama promised Americans that he would keep lobbyists out of his administration. Unfortunately, like so many other promises he made, Obama hasn’t quite lived up to the “hope” and “change.” But don’t tell that to Anna Palmer of Politico, who recently wrote that lobbyists are “ready for a comeback under Mitt Romney.”
This piece caught the eye of Tim Carney, who frequently shows the connections between big business and big government — what many would call “corporatism” — at the Washington Examiner. Carney took Palmer’s assertion that Obama has run a lobbyist-free administration completely apart, numbering 55 different registered lobbyists who have work for the Obama Administration — ranging from inside the White House to important cabinet-level positions.
Here’s a taste of Carney’s epic takedown of Palmer (numbers next to the names are part of the count of lobbyists in the administration):
Palmer writes of the possibility of Romney
“Allowing lobbyists back into the White House”
You mean after he kicks out the lobbyists in Obama’s White House like Patton Boggs lobbyist Emmett Beliveau (7), O’Melveny & Myers lobbyist Derek Douglas (8), and Pfizer’s, AT&T’s lobbyist at Akin Gump Dana Singiser (9)?
Romney would have to toss out Obama’s orders, which shook up how President George W. Bush did business and let Obama claim his agenda wouldn’t be hijacked by special interests.
Netflix fascinates me. How a company that has done such a great job of delivering a quality product to customers in an array of methods can get into so much trouble with its customer base is mind boggling.
Remember last year when Netflix raised prices and infuriated their customer base? Customers got furious. Then Netflix announced that DVD rentals would be going to a new service Qwikster. Separate web site, separate queues, separate credit card charges, incredibly stupid name…yeah, that sounds like a good idea. So Netflix announced Quikster. Then after customers responded in ways that could only be described as blowback, it backed off of the idea in a poorly written blog post from Reed Hastings, the Netflix CEO.
Somehow after demonstrating amazing levels of stupidity time after time, Netflix has managed to keep customers. Sure, it lost some customers in the midst of that price change chaos, but the company is still doing just fine. This is probably because despite a history of poor decisions, the company really does deliver a quality product. So these poor decisions don’t really have too much of an impact on revenue.
But you can only go to that well so many times before it runs dry.
This week it was announced that Netflix had formed a political action committee (PAC). Immediately people all over the Internet were (rightfully) concerned that this company that supported that horrid SOPA/PIPA legislation was going to be pushing for its passage again.
Recently, Trent Lott, a former Senator from Mississippi turned lobbyist, told the Washington Post:
Former Senate majority leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), now a D.C. lobbyist, warned that a robust bloc of rabble-rousers spells further Senate dysfunction. “We don’t need a lot of Jim DeMint disciples,” Lott said in an interview. “As soon as they get here, we need to co-opt them.”
“We” means the K Street wing of the Republican Party.
There are Republican candidates, officials and activists who don’t like the way Washington works and who seriously want to cut government back to sustainable and constitutional levels. And then there are the more “reasonable” grown-ups — Republicans, in and out of office, who like talking about this sort of thing (and may kind of believe it) but who understand Washington as a game, or even a racket: Raise a fuss, quote Ronald Reagan, attack the other side, exalt capitalism — then get rich off the taxpayer.
Today I had the chance to shadow a fellow University of St. Thomas graduate and lobbyist at the Minnesota capital. Many people have a very negative view of lobbyists. Perhaps it is because they have collectively gained a significant amount of power at every level of government. Perhaps it is because government has become bloated and oftentimes lobbyists pushing for more government intervention win out over those pushing for less.
What I find striking is that the blame has been shifted from the lobbyists and away from the representatives. What I mean by this is that hardly do we hear people singing the praises of lobbyists, but we oftentimes see people praising certain legislators for voting this way or that way. All lobbyists do is try to influence representatives to vote a certain way. They do this through funneling information, meeting with them, and presenting arguments.
I don’t think people realize how many lobbyists there are. You name an issue and there is likely a lobbyist - on both sides of the issue (sometimes there are even more than two positions). For all my libertarian friends out there who denounce lobbyists, you should know that statement implies that Campaign for Liberty, MPP, NORML, the NRA, and a whole host of organizations fighting for Constitutional principles and limited government are also “bad.”
The main thing we should all realize is this: there are many lobbying groups that are lobbying for things we are against. Yes, they may be powerful but ultimately the representative is responsible for their vote regardless of how influential these lobbyists are.
“To close that credibility gap, we have to take action on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, to end the outsized influence of lobbyists, to do our work openly, to give our people the government they deserve.” - Barack Obama, on January 27th in the State of the Union address
“In terms of lobbyists, I can stand here unequivocally and say that there has not been an administration who was tougher on making sure that lobbyists weren’t participating in the administration than any administration that’s come before us.” - Barack Obama, on January 29th during a meeting with House GOP Conference
You know all that populist pandering on special interests and lobbyists by the president? It’s not true, as Tim Carney points out:
More than 40 former lobbyists work in senior positions in the Obama administration, including three Cabinet secretaries and the CIA director. Yet in his State of the Union address, Obama claimed, “We’ve excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs.”
Did Obama speak falsely?
Well, it depends on what the definition of “excluded lobbyists” is.
Sure, some of Obama’s 40 ex-lobbyists are like that anti-smoking activist, but many are of a different stripe, such as William J. Wilkins, the general counsel of Obama’s IRS, a former lobbyist for the Swiss Bankers Association.
Or Monsanto’s former VP for public policy, Michael Taylor, who Obama tapped as deputy commissioner for foods at the Food and Drug Administration.
Tonight’s New York Times trumpets our new Treasury Secretary’s heroic efforts to restore trust and transparency to our bailout-ridden financial system:
WASHINGTON — The new Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, announced on Tuesday that he would crack down on lobbying to influence the $700 billion financial bailout program by companies that are receiving billions in taxpayer money.
Mr. Geithner, who was confirmed on Monday, also said he would set new limits intended to prevent political interference with decisions about which companies received bailout money.