2007/09/05

The United States, World's First Corporate Kleptocracy

When Ronald Reagan said, "...government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." Many people thought it would usher in a new era of fiscal responsibility, but to the contrary, taxes decreased, government spending increased, and the national debt went through the roof. In fact, it took 6 of 8 years of the Clinton administration to turn those deficits into surpluses, and then only by virtue of the fact that the economy boomed in the 90s. But now, with the Bush oligarchy coming to an end, we see what really became of the Reagan's legacy. The GOP has turned our nation into the world's first fully functional 'Corporate Kleptocracy', a government/corporate partnership whose goal is acquire as much of the nation's wealth as possible.

In a traditional kleptocracy, the government directly extends the power and wealth of the ruling class through taxes and the looting of wealth in natural resources. The United States is no longer rich in resources but is rich in the productivity of its workers. Our country is also rich in geo-political influence and military might. And so we find the Bush Administration, at almost every turn, advancing policies that indirectly transfer wealth to the powerful by:

1) Removing regulations on, curtailing oversight of, or blocking corrective action against predatory industries. Example: Enron and the gaming of California's electrical markets with FERC blocking corrective action after the fact.

2) Creating geo-political instability designed to enhance the profits of particular industries. Example: The Iraq War with it's direct and indirect benefits for the defense and petroleum industries.

3) Actively supporting inefficient, but highly profitable, corporate service delivery systems instead of more efficient government systems. Examples: Private insurer health care and mandatory non-governmental retirement financing

4) Supporting predatory laws that amount to non-tax "taxes" that favor corporations over individuals. Examples: Bankruptcy reform, medical savings accounts, privatized social-security

5) Massive politicization of the regulatory (EPA, OSHA), investigative (DoJ, FBI, BATF, Customs), military, and judicial functions of government, thereby ensuring compliance that supports the other four areas.

Sort of makes you feel like Neo in The Matrix, doesn't it? Not a battery...a wealth creation machine for corporations. The proof in the stats. Real income for the majority of Americans has not increased in 7 years while corporate profits have ballooned and are, for certain industries, at historic highs. Productivity continues to climb while wages fall, even during a period of low inflation.

One wonders how long such a system can last since most kleptocracies fail, bloodily, when there is no more wealth to loot. The powerful leave, and poor fight each other for what's left.

More in the 'Blogs Against Kleptocracy' series.


20 Comments:

But this time, it'll be different. No, really, it will. All the poor have to do is pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Sure, they're lead-laced imports of shoddy construction that rip the second you pull on them, but hey, just go buy another pair.
There's going to be something left? It will probably be toxic.
Excellent analysis, Kvatch. You described the situation in this country perfectly.

I have to share an example of corrupt corporate power I just learned about here in Michigan. We are the only state in the nation that prohibits legal recourse for a person harmed by a drug they are prescribed. In other words, if I suffer from debilitating health issues or die because of a prescription that was supposed to help me, the drug company that made it is free from accountability.

Isn't that wild? They're trying to change the law, but the drug companies are lobbying hard to keep it the way it is.
bravo. but beware of agent smith, he's tracking you. on that note, i will be referring to this post when i need to refine my debate ammo about our country being the chimera of big brother and the godfather.
Randall... Would that it were true, huh? The most tragic irony of America today is that the real American dream (not oodles of wealth for oneself, but a better life for one's children than one had themselves) is really and truly dead. Social-economic strata are rapidly becoming castes in this country.

Deb... Toxic and manufactured overseas.
Excellent analysis, Kvatch. You described the situation in this country perfectly.

Thanks Kathy, but actually I should give credit where credit is due. It was your series of posts from about a month ago that inspired this analysis. And the drug thing, just symptomatic of the greater problem: moving more and more financial responsibility to individuals.

RAFFI... Thanks as well. I suspect Agent Smith has me targeted for one of those nasty little spider probes.
I don't think insurance covers removal of those bugs. You'd better find yourself a cadre of Morpheus followers to help you out with that...
On the same page as the Empires provincial centres. An excellent summary.
Great post Kvatch and well written. I think you cleverly covered most things that are important with your analysis.
The most tragic irony of America today is that the real American dream (not oodles of wealth for oneself, but a better life for one's children than one had themselves) is really and truly dead.

I just heard that this generation will be the first in American history to NOT do better than their parents. Where are the family values now?
Smells more like Fascism to me.

I've said it before and will say it again, America has become a fascist state where corporate interests are merged with government. That's the definition of fascism.

But Corporate Kleptocracy I suppose is more palitable to the sensitve American stomach.
Fashiongirl... I doubt my insurance would even prescribe me a 'blue pill' if my life depended on it.

Cartledge... Thanks. Though...I'm a little fuzzy on the reference. Administrative center's of the British Empire?
Let's Talk... Many thanks. It was one of those posts where the examples go on and on.

John... You and I must have gotten our info from the same source. That fact was exactly what I was referring to.

PoliShifter... The reason I use Kleptocracy rather than fascism is that fascism usually has goals that transcend mere wealth transfer. I don't think that Bu$hCo really cares about the acquisition of territory, racial cleansing, or anything short of enriching him, his cronies, and our nation's power brokers.
I agree 100 percent. Wonderful piece Kvatch. I love how the Reagan republicans basically told business that they won't enforce labor laws
Best you hurry on over to Seeking Utopia and join the World Utopian Movement, Kvatch. We're agona' fix the wagon of those rich folk, change the world, give everyone a fair shake, just you wait and see!

That's the theory anyway! Cheers.
But Corporate Kleptocracy I suppose is more palitable to the sensitve American stomach.

Hell, all they have to say is "they want to raise your taxes!" and even non-wingnuts get ridiculous.
Re: your #3
"3) Actively supporting inefficient, but highly profitable, corporate service delivery systems instead of more efficient government systems. Examples: Private insurer health care and mandatory non-governmental retirement financing"

I have been noodling the above point for a few days now.

I think that there is an argument to be made that the present GOP health delivery system has at its heart a core component of 'socialism.'
Does this seem counter intuitive?
If in a capitalist society there is a huge demand for a product, (in this case efficient, inexpensive health care delivery ) and the state prevents that demand from being met, you have a grotesque display of de facto state planning.

I suspect that I'll write a tighter polemic on this soon. The idea as I'm 110% sure you get Kvatch is : if you screw with the workings of capitalism to help poor people that is called socialism; truth be told if you screw with capitalism to help rich entities that's embezzlement, theft and should be held up to RICO statues.
Or you could call it a kleptocracy, to be sure.
We have become a government of thieves, by thieves, and for thieves. Part of the proof is that whistle blowers to Iraq War fraud have suffered countless indignities, including being imprisoned and tortured in Iraq, while the criminals continue to get government contracts.

"I have the greatest respect for thieves. Every man born to wealth has a good thief amongst his ancestors." ~ Xena, Warrior Princess
Graeme... Thank you sir. Selective or non-enforcement is it's own are that I should probably have covered as its own point. It's a tragedy what has happened to labor protections.

Daniel... Be right over, but can a cynic like me really be a "Utopian"?

Randal... It is true, it's one of the reasons so much is redirected onto our backs in the form of more "Ownership society," the code word for "more choices, more payments."
Cogitorex... Not sure I agree. Seems to me that the administration goal is to continue to allow the industry to "over-deliver" as much health-care as possible, while shifting the lion's share of the cost to the consumer, thus maximizing profit for a favored industry.

Shifting to a government administered, single-payer systems probably means less health-care for many of us, but more efficiently delivered.

KnightErrant... Good point! (Especially the Xena quote.)

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