Et Tu, Big Business? The coup de grâce of capitalism’s murder is at the hands of its most successful child

Et Tu, Big Business?
The coup de grâce of capitalism’s murder is at the hands of its most successful child.

By Jonah Goldberg

What did you do when capitalism died, Daddy?

I won’t be surprised to hear that question from my daughter by the time she gets out of college — or should I say the State Mandatory Voluntarism Training Facility?

When liberals hear conservatives decry the death of capitalism, they titter and roll their eyes. “Oh, you paranoid right-wingers! You see Bolsheviks around every corner.”

But such exasperation is the exhalation of concentrated ignorance. The absence of free markets isn’t necessarily Bolshevism, or even socialism. Capitalism’s death can come in many forms, by many different hands.

After all, not all of Julius Caesar’s murderers thought alike. They were united in their belief Caesar had to go, not necessarily on what would replace him. Caesar fought off his attackers until he saw that among their number was Brutus, his friend. “Et tu, Brute?” he exclaimed; “You, too, Brutus?” It was not the enemy blows but his friend’s betrayal that sapped his will to fight and brought his downfall.

Some historians claim Caesar actually said, “Tu quoque, fili mi?” or, “You too, my child?”

Whether that’s more accurate, it certainly seems a more fitting declaration as the coup de grâce of capitalism’s murder is at the hands of its most successful child: big business.

Everywhere we look we see the great and once-great beneficiaries of free markets running to the state for protection from the cruel bullying of competition. On health care, insurance companies and others repeat the mantra that they want to be “at the table rather than on the menu,” all the better to be positioned as a tax collector of the welfare state. General Motors and Chrysler have gone from being pimped-out prostitutes of the state to outright chattel more akin to the leather-bound gimp in Pulp Fiction, eager to do the bidding of the president and the UAW.

Once-proud companies like GE have become seduced by global-warming schemes because they recognize that there’s more money to be made selling white elephants to Uncle Sam than there is selling competitive products consumers want. Indeed, cap-and-trade taxes promise to deliver precisely the protectionist industrial policies the Left has dreamed of for decades, only under a “progressive” label.

This week, Philip Morris, the biggest of the big tobacco companies, supported and won passage of an “anti-tobacco” bill that will make it easier for Philip Morris (a subsidiary of Altria) to sell cigarettes by making it harder for smaller, more innovative firms to compete. One way it will do that is by curtailing the First Amendment rights of tobacco companies, making it harder to advertise their products (including healthier alternatives to normal cigarettes). Philip Morris, maker of Marlboro and other established brands, already controls 50 percent of the market. That’s why it lobbied government to keep it that way.

Also this week, the White House announced its plan to deal with “systemic risk” in the financial markets. The basic idea is that big firms — giant banks, insurance companies, etc. — cannot be allowed to fail if their failure threatens something called “stability.” The Obama administration is confident that with its new organizational flow charts and enhanced job description for the Federal Reserve, bureaucrats will suddenly see clearly what they couldn’t see before. These regulators will know exactly when bubbles get too big, when booms last too long, and when tens of thousands of managers, investors, actuaries, and bankers make bad or sub-optimal decisions.

The problem, other than the shortage of Jedis and shamans to fill these posts, is that big companies will understand the surest way to attain immortality is to become too big to fail. Once they’ve achieved that privileged status, these companies will become de facto wards of the state, insured for life at taxpayer expense like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and in exchange they will do whatever Uncle Sam asks.

It’s too soon to tell which companies will leap at the opportunity to sell their souls for immortality, but you can bet that many of those already suckling the TARP teat will be among the first to celebrate the sagacity of the new system.

While doctrinaire socialists might feel betrayed by liberalism’s cozy embrace of big business, their betrayal pales in comparison to the bitterness of free-marketers who defend big business’s freedom to operate, only to see these businesses use that freedom to hide behind the skirts of the nanny state. Real freedom means the freedom to fail as well as succeed. Big business wants to be protected from the former and deny competitors the latter. And their betrayal, more than anything, disheartens those who would defend both freedoms.

— Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and the author of Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.© 2009 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

 
Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and the author of Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.

© 2009 Tribune Media Services, Inc.


National Review Online – http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YTdjODk3ZDE1MDdiNWQ1ZTc0NWQ4NTU3ZWIwZjJhNjI=

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An Open Letter to Our Nation’s Leadership

An Open Letter to Our Nation’s Leadership

by Web Producer

I am Janet Contreras, a concerned, home-grown American citizen. I am 53, and I have been a registered Democrat all of my adult life. Before the last Presidential election, I registered Republican because I no longer feel the Democratic Party represents my views or works to pursue issues important to me. I now no longer feel the Republican Party represents my views or works to pursue issues important to me. The fact is I no longer feel any political party or representative in Washington represents my views or works to pursue issues important to me.

There must be someone, please tell me who you are. Please stand up and tell me you are there and are willing to fight for our Constitution as it was written. Please do it now.

You might ask yourselves what my views and issues are that I would feel so horribly disenfranchised by both major political parties. What kind of nut job am I? Will you please tell me? These are briefly my views and issues for which I seek representation:

* Illegal Immigration—I want you to stop coddling illegal immigrants and secure our borders. Close the underground tunnels. Stop the violence and trafficking in drugs and people. No amnesty, not again. Been there, done that, no resolution. P.S. I am not a racist. This not to be confused with legal immigration.

* TARP Bill—I want it repealed and no further funding supplied to it. We told you “NO!” but you did it anyway. I want the remaining unfunded 95% repealed. Freeze! Repeal!

* Czars—I want the circumvention of our checks and balances stopped immediately. Fire the Czars. No more Czars. Government officials answer to the process not the President. Stop trampling on our Constitution and honor it.

* Cap & Trade—the debate on global warming is NOT over, there IS more to say.

* Universal Health Care—I will not be rushed into another expensive decision. Don’t you dare pass this in the middle of the night and then go on break. Slow down!

* Growing Government Control—I want states rights and sovereignty fully restored. I want less government in my life, not more. Shrink it down. Please mind your own business; you have enough to do with your REAL obligations. Let’s start there.

* ACORN—I do not want ACORN or its affiliates in charge of our 2010 census. I want them investigated. I also do not want mandatory escrow fees contributed to them on every real estate deal that closes. Stop all funding to ACORN and its affiliates pending impartial audit and investigation. I do not trust them with the taking of the census or with taxpayer money. Face up to the allegations against them and get it resolved before the taxpayers get any further involved with them. It walks like a duck and talks like a duck—hello… stop protecting political buddies. You work for the people. Investigate.

* Redistribution of Wealth—No. If I work for it, it is mine. I have always worked for people with more money than I have because they gave me jobs. That is the only redistribution of wealth I support. I never got a job from a poor person. Why do want me to hate my employers? What do your have against shareholders making a profit?

* Charitable Contributions—although I never got a job from a poor person, I have helped many in need. Charity belongs in our local communities where we know our needs best and can use local talent and resources. Butt out, please. We want to do this ourselves.

* Corporate Bail Outs—knock it off! Sink or swim like the rest of us. If there are hard times ahead, we will be better off just getting to it and letting the strong survive. Quick and painful, like ripping off a band aid. We will pull together. Great things happen in America under great hardship. Give us a chance to innovate. We cannot disappoint you more than you have disappointed us.

* Transparency and Accountability—how about it? No really, let’s have it. Let’s say we give the “buzz” words a rest and have some straight, honest talk. Please stop trying to manipulate and appease me with cleaver wording. I am not the idiot you obviously take me for. Stop sneaking around meeting in back rooms making deals with your friends. It will only be a prelude to your criminal investigation. Stop hiding things from me.

* Unprecedented Quick Spending—stop it, now. Take a breath. Listen to “The People.”

Let’s just slow down and get some more input from some “non-politicians” on the subject. Stop making everything an emergency. Stop speed reading our bills into law.

I am not an activist. I am not a community organizer. Nor am I a terrorist, a militant nor a violent person. I am a mother and grandmother. I am a working woman. I am busy, busy, busy and tired, tired, tired. I thought we elected competent people to take care of the business of government so that we could work, raise our families, pay our bills, have a little recreation, complain about taxes, endure our hardships, pursue our personal goals, cut our lawns and wash our cars on weekends, and be responsible, contributing members of society and teach our children to be the same, all the while living in the home of the free and land of the brave.

I entrusted you with upholding our Constitution and believed in the checks and balances to keep you from getting too far off course. What happened? You are very far off course. Do you really think that I find humor in hiring a speed reader to unintelligibly ramble through a bill you signed into law without knowing what it contained? I do not! It is a mockery of the responsibility I have entrusted to you. It is a slap in the face! I am not laughing—the arrogance!

Why is it that I feel as if you would not trust me to make a single decision about my own life and how I would live it, but you expect that I should trust you with the debt that you have laid on all of us and our children? We did not want that TARP bill. We said “NO!” We would repeal it if we could. I am not sure that we still cannot. There is such urgency and recklessness in all the recent spending. From my perspective, it seems that you have all gone insane.

I also know that I am far from alone in these feelings. Do you honestly feel that your current pursuits have merit to patriotic Americans? We want it to stop. We want to put the brakes on everything that is being rushed by us and forced upon us. We want our voice back!

You have forced us to put our lives on hold to straighten out the mess you are making. We will have to give up our vacations, our time spent with our children, any relaxation time we may have had and money we cannot afford to spend on you to bring our concerns to Washington.

Hamas: The Terror Elite

Hamas: The Terror Elite
By: Steven Plaut
Friday, June 19, 2009

 


A new pamphlet the details the brutal history of Gaza’s jihadist rulers.

It is one of the oddities of the global war on terrorism that while al-Qaeda is almost universally condemned, its Sunni terrorist counterparts in Hamas continue to attract a devoted following. Former president Jimmy Carter annually sings Hamas’s praises, insisting to all who will listen that Western governments must reach out to Gaza’s jihadist rulers. At “peace” demonstrations and on college campuses, banners are waved in honor of the group openly sworn to the destruction of Israel and the extermination of Jews worldwide. All this and more is the subject of Steven Plaut’s devastating new pamphlet, “Hamas: The Terror Elite.”

 

In a sweeping survey of Hamas’s bloody history, Plaut reveals that the terror group remains unwaveringly committed to its goal of carrying out a new genocide against Jews. Plaut also describes the little-mentioned reality that the self-described “legitimate” representative of the Palestinian people is also their most brutal tormentor. Terrorizing its own, Hamas tortures Gaza’s residents, forces them to live under oppressive Islamic law, and dispatches “vice squads” to deal with those who dare to defy its fanatical rule. It’s little wonder that Hamas has found its firmest allies in the mullahs of Iran and Osama Bin Laden’s terrorist shock troops. As Plaut’s pamphlet shows beyond any doubt, “Hamas and al-Qaeda are basically two sides of the same Jihad.” To read “Hamas: The Terror Elite,” please click here.


Steven Plaut is a professor at the Graduate School of the Business Administration at the University of Haifa and is a columnist for the Jewish Press. A collection of his commentaries on the current events in Israel can be found on his “blog” at www.stevenplaut.blogspot.com.

Minn. lawmaker vows not to complete Census

Minn. lawmaker vows not to complete Census

Stephen Dinan (Contact)

Outspoken Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann says she’s so worried that information from next year’s national census will be abused that she will refuse to fill out anything more than the number of people in her household.

In an interview Wednesday morning with The Washington Times “America’s Morning News,” Mrs. Bachmann, Minnesota Republican, said the questions have become “very intricate, very personal” and she also fears ACORN, the community organizing group that came under fire for its voter registration efforts last year, will be part of the Census Bureau’s door-to-door information collection efforts.

“I know for my family the only question we will be answering is how many people are in our home,” she said. “We won’t be answering any information beyond that, because the Constitution doesn’t require any information beyond that.”

Shelly Lowe, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Census Bureau, said Mrs. Bachmann is “misreading” the law.

She sent a portion of the U.S. legal code that says anyone over 18 years of age who refuses to answer “any of the questions” on the census can be fined up to $5,000.

The Constitution requires a census be taken every 10 years. Questions range from number of persons in the household and racial information to employment status and whether anyone receives social services such as food stamps.

Mrs. Bachmann said she’s worried about the involvement of ACORN, the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now, in next year’s census.

“They will be in charge of going door to door and collecting data from the American public,” she said. “This is very concerning.”

ACORN has applied to help recruit workers to help conduct the census. Republican lawmakers and some public interest groups have expressed concern over their involvement.

ACORN staffers have ben indicted in several states on charges of voter registration fraud stemming from the organization’s efforts to register voters last year.

Mrs. Bachmann, who is in her second term in the House, has become a lightning rod for criticism from Democrats and liberal talk show hosts for her unapologetic conservative views.

She said she considers that “a badge of honor.”

“It’s clear when a person speaks out against those policies they become a target, and that should be concerning to everyone,” she said.