Voices from Russia

Friday, 8 August 2014

This IS a “Read n’ Heed”… Crony Capitalism: Stockman is Disgusted with Own Party

00 Dirty Money Breeds Dirty Politics. 09.12


David Stockman, a former congressman and director of the OMB under President Reagan, is disgusted with his party. He’s a participant in what I refer to as the current civil war among Republicans… the fight on the part of traditional conservatives to get their party back from extremists. Stockman understands just how far it’s ventured from its conservative moorings. He obviously finds much to condemn in liberal approaches to the economy (he eschews Keynesian economics altogether and champions his own form of extremism in a return to the gold standard). What’s interesting, however, is his ire for today’s so-called “conservatives”, who created a monster… crony capitalism… the condemnation of which sounds more like Senator Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.

Crony capitalism is the use of government power to achieve business success. It isn’t the reward and punishment of actors’ performance in a free market, but rather a corruption that depends on sweetheart deals in the corridors of Washington. Of course, those kinds of deals aren’t open to everyone, but only those with sufficient resources to fund campaigns, pay lobbyists, and take part in the revolving door through which various actors move in and out of government and the industry they represent (which is why Stockman also argues for campaign finance reform). The small business man is still left to his own devices. Crony capitalism means that profits are garnered through the manipulation of power and influence and not through ingenuity and contributions to the real economy. On the first page of his tome, The Great Deformation, Stockman calls it a “mutant régime”, where the economy has become a “speculative casino” that “swindles the masses and enriches the few”. It isn’t a fair capitalism, that lifts all boats, but rather it depends on handouts to the rich and powerful at the expense of the rest of us.

In what Stockman calls “socialism for the rich”, government is used for private purposes, profits are privatised and losses are socialised (paid for by taxpayers). This became possible due to the elimination of the Glass-Steagall Act, the onset of easy money, and guarantees of a bailout should things turn sour. Thus, actors stood to gain huge rewards while simultaneously being shielded from the consequences of failure. What Stockman refers to as “Main Street” loses either way. Whilst the financial sector grew to outrageous proportions, so has economic inequality. “The real net worth of the ‘bottom’ 90 percent dropped by one-fourth” and the growth of economic output is at its slowest since the Civil War. Real median family income declined along with the creation of full-time middle-class jobs.

There are distant culprits in Stockman’s tale, such as FDR, but given the economic golden era under his hero, President Eisenhower, the real problem lies closer to our day. Despite Republicans’ idealisation of President Reagan, for example, Stockman reminds us that, under the wrong influence of Milton Friedman and, later, Alan Greenspan, he was one of the first to argue that deficits didn’t matter. Much like his more profligate heir, President George W Bush, he engaged in unnecessary defence spending as he cut taxes. Republicans no longer saw tax cuts as dependent on a balanced budget, but they became an end in their own right (a “stunning denial of reality” that stood Republican fiscal orthodoxy “on its head”). Both contrast with President Eisenhower’s preference for balancing the budget over tax cuts, disdain of adventures abroad, and slashing defence budgets, warning us of a rising “military-industrial complex.”

Stockman further clarified, “Rather than a permanent era of robust free market growth, the Reagan Revolution ushered in two spells of massive statist policy stimulation before it finally ran out of steam”. Both “fiscal profligacy” and “Wall Street-coddling” created a “temporary spree of phony prosperity”. Stockman is thus disgusted by his party’s rhetoric of the free market (it’s not free); individual responsibility (there’s no longer a cord connecting actions to consequences for the rich and powerful); as well as its rants about the entitlement society versus the job creators. Thus, he turns the rhetoric around. The “entitlement expectation” is on the part of financiers and corporate leaders who expect the government to support them. As he told Bill Moyers, “There have been so many bailouts, there has been so much abuse and misuse of government power for private ends … that now we have an entitled class in this country that is far worse than … the welfare queens that Ronald Reagan used to talk about”. he argued that they own Congress “lock, stock and barrel”.

7 August 2014

Mary Barker

Deseret News



00 inflatable rat moneybags



“Conservatism” in the USA is now overrun with those who’d make Bismarck, Diefenbaker, Ike, Stolypin, and Franco do a double “face-palm”. They’d all toss down a good stiff double and they’d do another “face-palm”… people like Limbaugh, Norquist, Boehner, Cruz, Rubio, Coulter, and Dreher are all classic Neoliberals… there’s not a single Conservative amongst them. For instance, let’s take Dreher. He’s typical of the non-conservative “New Conservatives”. The first given about a True Conservative is LOCAL PATRIOTISM. You saw that in the authors of I’ll Take My Stand (the classic manifesto of Southern Nationalism)… you saw that in George Wallace (as a Dixiecrat, he was more Conservative than the righties I named)… you saw that in William F Buckley with his ties to Connecticut. For that matter, Bernie Sanders is more Conservative than Dreher is, he’s been in Vermont for the last 50 years, and you couldn’t blow him out with an A-bomb! Dreher, on the other hand is a typical peripatetic rootless Neoliberal… Brooklyn to Texas to the District to Greater Baton Rouge… all within five years! Yowza… I pity his wife and kids being subjected to that. NOT CONSERVATIVE, chum (I’m more “conservative” than that… you couldn’t get me out of the Northeast unless you set off the Tsar Bomba underneath me).

Dreher TALKS small government… but he was a stink-tanker in the District… the quintessential insider job. In other words, he talks the talk, but he refuses to walk the walk when it benefits him. He was with the Rutherford Institute… the founder, one John Whitehead, is a nutter who believes that the government is going to use a giant computer to oversee all the details of people’s lives (stop cars via remote control and control our thoughts, that sort of unbalanced rot). Anyone with good sense knows that such a project would require oodles of cash… cash that it wouldn’t get as it’d cut into the lifestyles of corrupt pols. It’d get just enough funding to put it seemingly in place (so the pols could all grab bragging rights), with 99.9 percent of its findings going straight into the shitter… like in the late USSR, where KGB officers wrote reports that no one read, no one acted upon, and no one cared about.

Dreher’s a sham religious “conservative”… he sure didn’t look deeply into the past of Dmitri Royster to check who ordained him! To think that Dreher slammed the RCs for being soft on paedophiles (Rod, there’s a good deal of that amongst us, too… if you had half a brain, you’d see it)… I wonder what he thinks of JP sheltering Brittain the Kiddie Porn King and of Mr Justice Mainella’s scathing opinion of Seraphim Storheim. Of course, there was Yustinian’s sudden fall from grace (a combination of sticky fingers in the cookie jar and guys coming forward that he propositioned them) and the saga of the dippy nuns in Maryland. Being linked with the New Right doesn’t make one a “religious conservative”… indeed, I’m LEFT, but I’m a “religious conservative”, as are others I know… as is His Holiness! That’s the most delicious irony… Dreher, as a member of a ROCOR parish, has to smile at HH slamming the American embargo on Cuba, American adventuring throughout the world, and the crook capitalist system.

Dreher isn’t alone… he ISN’T the worst of the lot… but he IS typical. Let him stay in Louisiana for the next twenty years, then, he could (perhaps) call himself a Conservative. Until then, he, like all of his New Right pals, is a poseur, and I’m going to say so. There isn’t a shred of truth in their pretence… they have money, I don’t, so, I know that some will “follow the money”… so be it. Conservatism is dead… the “conservatives” killed it… Slobberin’ Ronnie did… Bubba did (he was a Dixiecrat and Sam Walton pal, so, he was no “liberal”)… GWB did… and Norquist did. The corpse is beginning to stink… who’ll give it decent burial? It’s rather too much, isn’t it?

Conservatism… it doesn’t go bump in the night… the GOP made it so! Think on that…


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