Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Inequality, Crony Capitalism, the Left and Obamacare

The modern secular religion that we call the Left has a vision of human liberation and emancipation: a liberation and emancipation of all humans from the oppressions and subordinations of the past.

But the odd thing about its vision is that it is wholly political; it can only imagine getting to the future by force.

This is a puzzling thing, because the whole point of human society is that it represents a zone of peace; disputes between humans within society are not to be settled by force, but by other means.

This requires the left -- and every political actor -- to divide the society into Us and Them.  Properly, We are the group, the tribe, the nation, the society and They are the Enemy in the next village, next nation.

In the notion of the left the enemy is a viper in the bosom of our own society, a nest of exploiters, or robber barons, or class enemies, or racists, sexists and bigots.  Thus the left must mount a war of the people against the powerful, the workers against the bosses, the gays against the "haters."

In other words, the left is always waging a civil war against the domestic enemy.  The irony is that this usually requires the left to co-opt some of the people that it normally characterizes as the "enemy."

Take Obamacare.  For decades the left has taught everyone to believe that the problem with health care is insurance companies and drug companies and corporate greed.  Yet President Obama and the congressional Democrats designed Obamacare around the need to co-opt the drug companies and the health insurers into its plan so that they would not oppose it, and it exempted big corporations, the ones that self-insure, from many onerous regulations and requirements.  There is even a "risk corridor" to bail out insurance companies from losses if Obamacare's projections turn out to be wrong.

When corporations get in bed with government we conservatives and libertarians like to call it "crony capitalism."

Of course, nothing prevents the left from turning on their corporate "partners" when things go wrong.

But this is all wrong, and cannot end well.  That is because the whole point of capitalism is that it is adapting, every moment, to the demands of the consumers.  The whole point of a big-government program like Obamacare is that it protects people from adaptation, and solves, for all time, some monstrous oppression or injustice, and it sets up a bureaucracy to manage it.

That is the point: bureaucracy doesn't adapt.  It wants to keep running things the old way, and resists change.  It can resist change for a while because it has the power of government behind it.

Today the cry of the left is against "inequality."  Of course it is.  Because the left always needs some rationalization for the use of government force.  If some people are rich and some people are poor then it requires a government intervention to redistribute it.

But what if the government policy supported and implemented by the left has actually contributed to inequality?  Somehow our lefty friends cannot imagine that.

There is a better way to look at this.  It is that freedom (and liberation and emancipation) needs individualism.  You cannot have freedom unless individuals are free (and also obligated) to search out and discover how they can contribute to society.  Servitude, the other side of the coin, always involves collectivization.  If government -- whether the family patriarch, the village big man, the local baron, the political commissar or the nation state -- guarantees anyone a lunch ticket then it must force people to work to provide that lunch.

When the Brits started emerging from feudalism a thousand years ago, they did a curious thing to break up their serf households; they sent their children away from home as apprentices and servants.  This meant, of course, they the detached their children from the mother's teat.  Each child had to find their own way in the world.

In a way, it's a cruel idea.  Each child must find a way to support itself on its own or perish.  But the alternative, of course, is to stay at home and submit oneself forever to the authority of the father.  Then you survive or perish upon the decisions of the patriarch.

OK, which is more cruel?  You rely on your own efforts to secure a livelihood or you rely on the efforts of the family patriarch, the precinct captain, the party boss, the charismatic politician?

I know what I think.

1 comment:

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