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October 05, 2006

Comments

There are two things wrong, I think, with your comparison between governments and corporations -- and the assumption that there are clearcut distinctions between them.

The first thing I'd disagree with is the idea that "a business could [not] get away with hiring people to physically assault their laborers in today's society." This rather mistakes what business can get away with. To cite two recent instances: the asbestos business -- which is not simply about mining, but about using asbestos in industrial products - got away, for more than 30 years, with practices that the various companies involved -- for instance, W. Grace - knew were lethal. And as we know from Eric Schlosser's book on the meatpacking industry, its dangers are doubly hidden by the placement of its hugest factories in isolated areas in the Midwest and its hiring of a largely non-English speaking, often illegal crew to man them.

To get away with paying the price that could legally be exacted from them, via the court, they simply pay off the legislature to pass legislation heavily limiting liability for their actions.

I use pay off intentionally (see the recent NYT story about donations to Ohio's state judges and the voting patterns that reflect those donations). The picture of the strict compartmentalization of the state and of private enterprises underconceptualizes, or simply ignores, the real way in which the state's legislative bodies are composed. There is, firstly, an election process that is largely, now, on the ticket of the big donors. Then there is the career trajectory of legislators. That trajectory - as well as the trajectory of their aids -- displays a pretty common pattern. After retirement or defeat, it is not uncommon for legislators to take very well paying jobs with the very companies they used to legislate over. And the cycling of aids through K street, think tanks and businesses is also easy to map. Hence, the supposed wall between government and private enterprise is, in reality, a porous membrane.

The second problem is that corporations now openly "monopolize violence" in certain traditional government functions. The prison system, for one - wackenhut guards do the guarding in Texas prisons. Not state employees. And dyncorps does the prisonholding in Afghanistan.

The same libertarians who plug the private sector also have shown themselves pretty eager to tear down the wall separating business from government. So, they argue their points using a theory of the rigid separation of the two, even as they argue for policies that inevitably lead towards the collapse of the two. Big government conservatism is the inevitable product of this contradiction.

Great post. Some thoughts:

1. Can we get down to specific cases? What parts of government should we shrink or eliminate?

2. I don't think anyone is really worried about corporations hiring private armies like they did back in the day. What concerns liberals (or at least me) are corporations acting abusively in their role as employers. Especially big corporations, like wal-mart.

3. "modern American culture tends to view the government's purview as virtually limitless." I don't know about this. I think if you visited the social democracies of Europe, you'd find people with a far more expansive view of government's role than we have here.

Thanks for the post!

julian,

1. A subject for another post, I think.

2. I see this as an area where we would definitely want to be careful in how we change things. I am not trying to suggest that we should cut back government without care, as I am firmly of the belief that government is vital to the success of modern societies. I just think that less of it is needed than we currently have.

3. Probably true. I speak from an American perspective, of course, and the European perspective doubtless would floor me in many ways. Still, it does seem to me that even in America a disturbing number of people seem to view the government as a sugar daddy of some kind.

Hmmm, I don't think you can create a hierarchy of
government
corporations=unions

because unions, under ideal circumstances, are democratic bodies, where as corporations are only democratic bodies in a very loosest of senses. Thus, a union has a leg up on corporations.

Someone pointed out that a lot of the power of government naturally derives from the organizing principles that occur when population density increases. If you accept that, then you have to take the view that increased government power and control are inevitable, something which you seem to note with the 'it's academic'. If it is just academic, holding on to the notion that things can be kept the same is not conservatism, it is just contrarianism.

Well, that points out two things I didn't say in less than a paragraph. I'm a little disappointed you didn't try for the trifecta.

Whoops, that's two things I didn't say in three paragraphs. My mistake.

Thank you for an interesting post.

You write: “We grant government a monopoly on the use of force. In a civilized society, it is inappropriate to initiate the use of force (except in obvious cases of imminent danger). Only government agents are granted the power to initiate force legitimately, because ultimately it is force that underlies government, although in modern society that force is well-hidden because most citizens have internalized the rules of their society.”

I have a slight quibble with this statement: Isn’t this “monopoly on the use of force” always granted “until further notice”? Which is to say that a people always retains the sovereign and inalienable right to undo a government with whatever means, forceful or not, it chooses? In most cases, it will understandably choose a non-violent (eg, elections) method, but if the people feels those methods are faulty or untrustworthy, for whatever reason, they are entitled to use others, including force.

My reasoning is simple. It is clear that, as Mao Tse-tung so eloquently noted, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” (Problems of War and Strategy, 6 November 1938). If, as Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence in 1776, "governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” then these men are entitled to redress if the government instituted no longer represents the consent of the governed (not needing it, perhaps, through its own use of force to repress).

So, while in principle government are granted monopolies on the use of force, in fact these monopolies represent only the sovereign people’s permission (coerced or not, admittedly) which may be redefined or withdrawn altogether as necessary.

In addition, when, as in the cases of the French and Russian revolutions, or even the American, the people choose to revoke their respective governments’ monopolies on the use of force, it can hardly be found to be “inappropriate” by historical criteria, even if bloody and wasteful and a slew of other quite real negatives.

Edouard,

That's an interesting point, and it touches on something I've considered writing about before: the question of when a people can legitimately rise up against a government. I concur that the people do have every right to withdraw the monopoly on force granted to the government, but I suspect trying to determine when that step should be taken is problematic.

Andrew, this is a helpful post, and I've moved closer to agreement that government is the most powerful force in this society. The devil's in the details -- or in the price-haggling ;).

a disturbing number of people seem to view the government as a sugar daddy of some kind

Especially those "persons" known as corporations, and the .5% of the population who have contributed most massively to the debt that will plague our grandchildren by being released from paying their share of taxes.

The specific political problem we have is that government has been acting far too much on behalf of corporations, and far too little on behalf of the majority of citizens. As corporations and government have become more and more entwined over the last thirty years, it's also become necessary to move into specifics when making characterizations of what "government" is doing, or the role of corporations in the action may be thus obscured.

Now the threat to workers and citizens posed by the government-corporate embrace has been compounded by the frightening expansion of government power in the last several years. (and the last several weeks.)

It'll be a long, hard road back.

Nell,

No argument on corporations, but I'll take exception to the 'not paid fair share' argument. What, precisely, do you consider their 'fair share'? The top ten percent already pays 3-4 times that in taxes, if not more. Not to mention the fact there are two components to debt: money in and money out. Were the government even marginally capable of reining in spending, our debt could be markedly reduced without dealing with issues of whether or not people are paying their 'fair' share.

Andrew -

Good post.

You lost me here:

"modern American culture tends to view the government's purview as virtually limitless"

Can you expand this a bit? It seems like an overstatement, perhaps I am misunderstanding what you have in mind.

Thank you -

russell,

Consider that a bit of hyperbole. I'm sure there are still some areas where the public does not expect the federal government to step in, although I confess I might be hard-pressed to identify any.

"I don't think anyone is really worried about corporations hiring private armies like they did back in the day. What concerns liberals (or at least me) are corporations acting abusively in their role as employers."

The problem I have with this formulation is that "abusively" is interpreted rather broadly. If it includes "paying less than what liberals think is a 'fair' wage" I'm not going to be able to come on board.

"modern American culture tends to view the government's purview as virtually limitless"

It isn't all of American culture. But it is a lot. It isn't limitless, but the "sugar daddy" formulation is apt.

Were the government even marginally capable of reining in spending, our debt could be markedly reduced without dealing with issues of whether or not people are paying their 'fair' share.

The gov't isn't capable of reining in spending because people don't want it reigned in. This is in part because they currently don't have to pay the full costs of the present spending due to the deficit. If taxes were hiked to the point where there were no deficit there might be an actual move to reign in the spending, but right now we're living off the largess of pension and mutual funds, and the Japanese and Chinese central banks.

What, precisely, do you consider their 'fair share'? The top ten percent already pays 3-4 times that in taxes, if not more.

Don't you need to know what percent of the income the top 10 percent earn before you can make a value judgment on whether they pay enough in taxes?

The WSJ editorial board is fond of playing games with this statistic by noting that some-odd years ago the top 5% of income earners in the US paid 20% of the income taxes levied, whereas today they pay 25% of the income taxes levied, conveniently ignoring the fact that the top 5% earn 25% of the income in the country today, whereas some-odd years ago the top 5% only earned 20% of the income. They also always manage to leave out payroll taxes when making this calculation.

Contra some of the commentators above, I am worried about business doing far more things to the average citizen than just using violence or even acting abusively as employers. Generally speaking, the reforms and regulations imposed since the 1880's were imposed to deal with specific abuses, whether monopolization of significant industries, raising costs on other producers and consumers while creating monopolistic profits (Antitrust), to selling spoiled and harmful food (FDA), to 60+ hour work weeks (maximum hours/overtime laws), to child labor, etc.

On the other thread, I posted what struck me as an important question here as to what replaces government regulations with respect to tainted food, and received no response. I think that, before we dispense with government regulation as a means of protecting consumers, we need to think through the implications.

Dan, I'll answer that question as soon as you show me where I advocated dispensing with government regulation. You show me that and you'll get all the answers you ever wanted, but first I'd like to see where I made that suggestion, or if this is just another assumption that people know what I really mean, regardless of what I say.

Thoughtful essay, Andrew.

But government has a legitimacy these other forms of power do not, because we insist on holding elections to choose who will serve in government.

I think the mandate of heaven is the monopoly of force. Elections are just a mechanism that allow heaven to revoke its mandate without resorting to revolution (the ultimate election). Whether a hereditary monarch or an elected president, a head of state can legitimately exercise force in ways no corporate CEO or union leader ever could, no matter how democratic the officer's election.

To quote Justice Jackson, "We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final."

Andrew,

"Dan, I'll answer that question as soon as you show me where I advocated dispensing with government regulation."

Not dispensing, but all throughout your essay, you advocate reducing it, especially here:

"But in today's society it seems crystal clear that the power possessed by government is of a wholly different nature than that possessed by any other power center. Government can do things no other organization can. It has more actual power in terms of armies and police, it has a veneer of respectability that no other organization can approach, and it has the advantage of cultural deferment to government power. Can businesses abuse their power? Absolutely. Can businesses in contemporary America do more damage than the United States Government? I look forward to someone on this site explaining to me how Bill Gates represents a greater threat to their liberties than President Bush."

I am pointing out how I view business as a whole as a greater threat -- because so many of my daily decisions depend on the good actions of business.

"I am pointing out how I view business as a whole as a greater threat -- because so many of my daily decisions depend on the good actions of business."

But "business as a whole" doesn't really exist. That is like saying that "people as a whole" worry you because many of your daily decisions depend on the good actions of people.

Concentration of power, not just raw power is important. 51 of the top 100 largest economic entities are corporations. This means that an enormous amount of power is concentrated in the hands of very few people. This trend is monotonically increasing.

Sure, Bill Gates doesn't pose any threat that we know of. He's probably a wonderful guy.

But how about the bin Laden corporation? Andrew assumes that someone with the economic power greater than the majority of countries on the planet will be innocuous at worst. But the rise of non-state actors in our global security state is something that shows this assumption is rather naive.

Saudis? I hear those corporate entities that are raking in zillions of dollars are doing a great job at supporting the very thing that is the greatest threat to "our way of life".

Or so I hear.

That is like saying that "people as a whole" worry you because many of your daily decisions depend on the good actions of people.

People as a whole worry me, look who they elected to lead this country the last six years (I was complicit on the first four).

Sebastian,

"But "business as a whole" doesn't really exist. That is like saying that "people as a whole" worry you because many of your daily decisions depend on the good actions of people."

But if we are aggregating government as a whole here, then it is only logical that we do the same with business as a whole.

"5% of income earners in the US paid 20% of the income taxes levied, whereas today they pay 25% of the income taxes levied, conveniently ignoring the fact that the top 5% earn 25% of the income in the country today, whereas some-odd years ago the top 5% only earned 20%"

I think we can figure out this number for sure.

In 2002 the latest year of available data, the top 5 percent of taxpayers paid more than one-half (53.8 percent) of all individual income taxes, but reported roughly one-third (30.6 percent) of income.

The top 1 percent of taxpayers paid 33.7 percent of all individual income taxes in 2002. This group of taxpayers has paid more than 30 percent of individual income taxes since 1995.

Taxpayers who rank in the top 50 percent of taxpayers by income pay virtually all individual income taxes. In all years since 1990, taxpayers in this group have paid over 94 percent of all individual income taxes. In 2000, 2001, and 2002, this group paid over 96 percent of the total.

Treasury Department analysts credit President Bush's tax cuts with shifting a larger share of the individual income taxes paid to higher income taxpayers. In 2005, says the Treasury, when most of the tax cut provisions are fully in effect (e.g., lower tax rates, the $1,000 child credit, marriage penalty relief), the projected tax share for lower-income taxpayers will fall, while the tax share for higher-income taxpayers will rise.


The share of taxes paid by the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers will fall from 4.1 percent to 3.6 percent.

The share of taxes paid by the top 1 percent of taxpayers will rise from 32.3 percent to 33.7 percent.

The average tax rate for the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers falls by 27 percent as compared to a 13 percent decline for taxpayers in the top 1 percent.

I just googled this quickly there may be some dispute about it. I am sure if there is others will quickly pounce on it.


Hal, I specifically note on numerous occasions that I have no more faith in the good intentions of business than I do in the good intentions of any other group. The idea that I assume otherwise is, to put it politely, incorrect.

Dan,

You do realize that businesses operate as individuals, while the federal government tends to operate as a unit, right? That, just maybe, trying to say that Macy's and Gimbel's are the same as Uncle Sam is, well, perhaps a bit misleading?

Andrew,

power possessed by government is of a wholly different nature than that possessed by any other power center. Government can do things no other organization can.

So I guess they can have bad intentions but can't do? What, exactly? Fund revolutions? Foment unrest? Train armies of terrorists?

What exactly can't they do that prevents them from exercising this enormous power in ways that would be just as bad as any rogue state?

Andrew,

You do realize that one of the areas of law I cited was the antitrust laws, right? It's what (theoretically, anyway) prevent Macy's and Gimbel's from ganging up on the consumer. So no, I don't think I am being misleading.

I do, on the other hand, feel you issued a general challenge, and I responded to it. Please answer my response.

"But 'business as a whole' doesn't really exist."

Are you saying that the American Chamber of Commerce, and allied bodies, doesn't exist?

You do realize that businesses operate as individuals, while the federal government tends to operate as a unit, right?

Right. That's why we have three branches of government - or used to, at least.

There are plenty of examples of businesses operating as a unit. Cartels are a good example.

Government also has a patina of legitimacy that most other forms of power lack. Few of us are foolish enough to believe that corporations won't act to serve their bottom line, regardless of the effects that may have on the rest of us. Nor are too many people still naive enough to believe that unions will act in the best interests of all (or even, necessarily, in the best interests of their members). But government has a legitimacy these other forms of power do not, because we insist on holding elections to choose who will serve in government. This is a wise precaution (although it tends to founder for lack of an informed electorate, but that's a topic for another time), because the assent of the people is a legitimate source of power, if properly restrained. We therefore tend to accept the use of government power in ways that would be more firmly resisted if attempted by other sources of power. This makes government power easier to abuse.

Andrew -- This bit of your argument troubles me, if I understand it. What you appear to be saying is that the power of government is more easily abused because of the 'patina of legitimacy' it has. The thing is, that 'patina' is derived from its actual legitimacy (which you acknowledge), the fact that it's derived from the consent of the people and expected to be exercised in the public interest.

Here, you look to be saying 'Government power is abused whenever it's exerted in a way not exactly in the public interest' (which is true, and is certainly going to happen sometimes) but implicitly contrasting it with private power, which is only accidentally ever going to be exerted in the public interest -- there's no reason that it should ever be, except where the public interest coincidentally lines up with its own privat interests. Under that line of analysis, it seems that even if private power were vastly more harmful than government power, you'd consider harm caused by government power 'abuse' and evidence that power should be taken away from the government, but harm caused by private actors not problematic in anything like the same way.

(I do apologize if I have appeared to attribute a position to you that you don't hold. I'm trying to tease out implications from your argument, and may easily have gone down the wrong track.)

"But if we are aggregating government as a whole here, then it is only logical that we do the same with business as a whole."

No. Government actually aggreagtes itself. In any given location you are likely to be governmentally under the influence of only two entities: the federal government's subdivisions and the state government's subdivisions. For most of the things we are discussing, city or other local governments have power only as delegated or allowed by the state (with federal preemption of course). So even if you add that you have three entities. That isn't true of business at all. In most situations you can choose between two or more businesses for practically any function in a large city.

Sebastian,

I am going to give you the same antitrust answer I gave Andrew.

"Are you saying that the American Chamber of Commerce, and allied bodies, doesn't exist?"

And your point is what? That the Chamber of Commerce operationally controls any of its members?

If you think the Chambers of Commerce operate with anything like the power of governments I strongly suggest that you attend some of their meetings.

And in I suspect you will find that the scary things you think it does involve lobbying the government to impose the government's use of force on something.

Funny how "the government" comes in to play there.

Sebastian: Oil Cartel. I'm sure you've heard about it. We also have plenty examples of price fixing and countless other collective behavior that businesses colluded to bring about.

It's ludicrous to claim that collective behavior in businesses is so rare as to be non-existent. Common interests are - well - quite common and a common interest is all that is needed to organize businesses collectively.

That the Chamber of Commerce operationally controls any of its members?

And your saying that a government controls all it's members?

If you think the Chambers of Commerce operate with anything like the power of governments

How about the oil cartels? They have power rivalling almost all the governments on this planet.

Dan,

If you think business is a greater threat to you than government, I am quite convinced that there is nothing I can say that will convince you otherwise.

Hal,

Government doesn't need to raise an army, etc. It already has one. Given time and a completely inert government, I'm sure that business could theoretically become a greater nuisance, but I'm trying to deal with the world as it is.

Liz,

Hmmm, an interesting question. I suppose I would consider government abuse of power worse in terms of it being a betrayal of a trust, although that would not necessarily make it worse in an absolute sense. That doesn't mean I'd be willing to accept a harm from business that I would not accept from government (although I suppose I could think of exceptions, given time). Only that government is a public trust, and therefore is held to a higher standard. Private power can most certainly be abused, and indeed I would argue that the primary function of government is to protect the people from such violations.

My basic point is that, in looking at the harm government can do relative to the harm business can do, it seems clear to me that government is a much greater threat to personal liberty than business. An argument can be made that things were different a century ago. They may be different a century from now. But right now, in the United States, I'm a lot more worried about what the government could do to me than I am about what business could do to me, and I believe that the reasons I've laid out here justify that ranking.

"The thing is, that 'patina' is derived from its actual legitimacy (which you acknowledge), the fact that it's derived from the consent of the people and expected to be exercised in the public interest."

No I don't think that is what Andrew is saying. He is saying that when it is used illegtimately (see Balko on drug raids for instance, or see Bush and torture) it has a false veneer of legitimacy.

Hal,

"It's ludicrous to claim that collective behavior in businesses is so rare as to be non-existent. Common interests are - well - quite common and a common interest is all that is needed to organize businesses collectively."

Not only that, but collective behavior was far more common before it was prohibited by the government.

Andrew,

"If you think business is a greater threat to you than government, I am quite convinced that there is nothing I can say that will convince you otherwise."

Funny. I thought you were just asking us to explain to you why some feel that way. I have explained why I feel my life is far more likely to be taken by business than government, and your response is this?

Government doesn't need to raise an army, etc. It already has one.

So, they just spontaneously form? Armies are darn hard to raise. They are extremely expensive to maintain and are - for the most part - largely used to control the very population the government has to work with.

Corporations, on the other hand, have no such problems. When they want something done, they can outsource it to existing armies of governments or any one of the number of mercenary organizations out there.

You're acting like this is a liability for corporations. It isn't. They don't *need* a huge standing army. This means they don't have to waste a lot of time, effort and money doing something that doesn't progress their goals.

And hey. One terrorist attack can completely ruin a country for decades - just look at 9/11. Didn't take an army to do that.

"It's ludicrous to claim that collective behavior in businesses is so rare as to be non-existent."

Who said non-existent? I said less collective than government.

And even an oil cartel is interested in oil, not everything.

The question was power. A corrupt oil cartel has much less power to change your personal life than any random corrupt police officer. Heck, a corrupt building inspector can hurt you more than a whole oil cartel.

Dantheman,

Not only that, but collective behavior was far more common before it was prohibited by the government.

Yea, it's curious as to how Sebastian has neglected the great history of the Railroad barons, the oil barons and - for that matter - the British East India Company. IIRC, the British East India Company *was* the government.

I'm not really sure what this thing is about things that weren't in the post. On one hand, I can see that you are talking about the things you are talking about, and don't want to talk about other things and it is certainly unfair to assign you opinions that you don't have. But this seems more preemptive 'left field is poison', such that you are setting the terms of the debate so as to make sure that your argument wins, which you accused Gary of doing to you. At some point, we have to accept responsibilities for the implications of our ideas, even if they are not ever in our mind and we are only made aware of them when someone points them out. You strongly objected to someone (russell?) suggesting your position wasn't thought out. But if say you didn't talk about it, it becomes difficult to discuss the ramifications of your position.

You seem not to want to accept that unions are a step up above corporations in terms of democratic will, which is fine, but it then makes it seem that the consent of the governed is irrelevant to this, yet the fundamental difference between Bill Gates and George Bush in this is that no one gave Bill Gates that kind of consent. LB's point about patina of legitimacy needs to be kept in mind. You can't take the fact that they are different and then say 'see they are different, so how can you think that Bill Gates is more of a threat than George Bush'. Furthermore, Gates' influence is much more susceptible to public opinion, but if I were to point out that if you lived in Bhopal in December 1984, the president of Union Carbide had a lot more power than the then PM of India at the time, Rajiv Gandhi.

You also said 'Ultimately, this is an academic discussion for the United States.' This creates a situation where you are either suggesting that we go out and try these things out somewhere else, or that what you are setting up conditions where, because you argue that something is better than the way historical trends seem to be going, your argument can't be taken issue with. That's fine, rhetorically speaking, but at some point, someone (like Paul Bremer?) is going to try and apply less-government-esque principles to a situation and be completely shocked that they don't work out so well.

But this 'I'm only going to talk about what I wrote, and I never ever mentioned X' kinda puts a kibosh on having the rather messy practical aspects of these questions emerge. Sure, you never said anything about goverment regulations, and sarcastically, I could suggest that maybe you just can't wait for more of them, which would be another rhetorical trick. But goverment regulations in some basic ways define the interface between corporations and government, as well as the interface between corporations and citizens, so it seems like they have to come up, regardless of whether you mentioned them or not.

I do believe that you have a great sense of perspective on your ideas, which is what makes you such a great fit for this site, so please take my points as attempts to wrestle with your ideas as they appear on the screen rather than your intentions.

None of you are bothering with scale. There has NEVER BEEN a US corporation with the power of or exceeding (or even approaching) the US government. Not in 1800s, not in the 1900s, not now. The oil cartels you seems so afraid of didn't approach the power of the US government at the time and certainly wouldn't approach it now.

And at no point have Andrew or I suggested that the collective action power of corporations is untroubling. We suggest that the collective action power of government is more troubling because it is more powerful. Every single thing you have expressed worry about for corporations applies even more so to governments.

Dan,

Sorry, got lost in the thread. Although I confess that I am hard-pressed to come up with a better answer. In modern society, it is in business's best interests to have happy customers. Do you honestly believe that the company that distributed the contaminated spinach recently did so knowingly because they figured it would be easier than fixing the problem? If you think that, then we're at such odds in our beliefs than I might as well try convincing you that the sun comes up in the west. The fact is, that business is probably going to pay a huge price for that error (as they should, I should note), and I'm quite confident that the ownership would quite happily pay a hefty sum to not have sent out the contaminated spinach in the first place. Government regulation probably was necessary a century ago, when there was a lot fewer options for people buying food, but today if a business demonstrates they don't care about their customers, there are generally quite a few other businesses willing to step in and solve that problem for the consumer. I'm not saying that means we should necessarily throw out government regulations, however.

But, again, if you're really that much more afraid that business will kill you than government, I really can't think of what else might convince you. The government can come into your home and kill you with relative impunity. Business might kill you with a bad product, but has every incentive not to do so. So, quite frankly, I think your perception of threats is out of whack. Doubtless you feel the same way about mine.

I said less collective than government.

My lord, it's like you never heard of divided government. Or a lame duck president. Or you've never been to a city council meeting.

Businesses can act with almost perfect unity when dollars are on the line.

So, I'm wondering what distinction you're drawing here.

a corrupt building inspector can hurt you more than a whole oil cartel.

So can someone with a shotgun, or a skin head and a baseball bat. I mean, really?

But then, the oil cartels can bring an entire nation to its knees and bring down a President (see Carter, Jimmy).

"But then, the oil cartels can bring an entire nation to its knees and bring down a President (see Carter, Jimmy)."

Anyone want to think for two seconds about whether or not OPEC is a cartel of oil producing GOVERNMENTS?

Sheesh.

Whoops

if I were to point out that if you lived in Bhopal in December 1984, the president of Union Carbide had a lot more power than the then PM of India at the time, Rajiv Gandhi. I would then supply some pithy line to score rhetorical points which you can fill in as you like.

At any rate, we again seem to be moving into the space left by the excluded middle, so I just want to suggest that corporations do have a role, but as the ability of corporations to alter people's lives increases (and if you've spent anytime with a Windows blue screen of death, please don't tell me that that Bill Gates doesn't have some ability to alter your life ;^)) something has to arise to counterbalance that power. Certainly desktop publishing, the internet, people power sort of things have risen up, but I don't think that government is going to sit on the sidelines, especially when people use the similar basic mechanisms that corporations use to influence politicians.

lj,

I just don't see how it matters where unions and corporations are relative to one another on the power scale when the thrust of my argument is that nothing out there is as high up on the scale as the government is. It was not my intent to fence the issue off to win the argument, but to fence the issue off because I fail to see how it is germane to the argument. Whether unions are more or less democratic than business, government is still more powerful than both.

As to the argument about the current state of affairs in the U.S., my intent was simply to point out that comments about getting rid of regulation, etc., are hypotheticals with little grounding in reality; big government is here to stay. Which means that government will remain a bigger threat to individual liberty than business.

"Businesses can act with almost perfect unity when dollars are on the line."

What does this even mean? Politicians can act with almost perfect unity when power is on the line. I feel so much safer.

"My lord, it's like you never heard of divided government."

It is almost like you've never heard of competition. Monopolies without government help are very fragile. They are much more likely to exist when the government uses government force to keep out competition.

Andrew -- I want to interject one thing into the conversation here. It sounds like when you speak of government you mean the modern national state -- a centralized entity which governs a territory with set borders. Government has the monopoly on force within those borders and the duty to protect the citizens within those borders against both internal and external forces that threaten the citizens' wellbeing.

Multinational orporations are non-territorial entities. They do not have the same sort of power within a territory that the state has over that territory, but they have considerable power across boundaries due to the non-territorial nature of the market. Some states are better than others at controlling corporations within their borders. Others are bound by IMF regulation to follow the dictates of private corporations when regulating their own economy.

Discussions of who has the most power are largely dependent on venue.

Andrew,

Thanks for the response, although we still disagree.

"Do you honestly believe that the company that distributed the contaminated spinach recently did so knowingly because they figured it would be easier than fixing the problem?"

Knowingly? No. Recklessly being uncaring about the danger because the liability would be less than the cost of making changes to correct? Absolutely, and it has been documented numerous times in numerous businesses, from Ralph Nader and Chevrolet to the regularly occurring e. coli outbreaks at meat packing facilities to pollution reducing technology at coal burning electric plants.

"The fact is, that business is probably going to pay a huge price for that error (as they should, I should note)"

And this is exactly my point. If the governmental watchdogs did not exist, the spinach processor could escape most, if not all, of its liability by muddying the waters when any injured consumers sued. They might even believe their own statements that it must be someone else's products which caused the harm, so they wouldn't stop selling the spinach until far more people died.

There has NEVER BEEN a US corporation with the power of or exceeding (or even approaching) the US government.

Well, sure. But are you really so scared of the US government? Really. Why do you still live here, then. Perhaps someplace like Somolia where there is a less powerful government? Or maybe Sudan.

Governments exist for a reason, and the fact that we have a powerful government means we are a powerful people. Sure, it can be abused (most notably, by people who are curiously for smaller government, as is happening at the moment).

Every single thing you have expressed worry about for corporations applies even more so to governments.

Untrue. Corporations operate without the constraints imposed on governments. For one, as I pointed out, they don't need a standing army to control an unruly population that doesn't like what they're doing. You don't like what the corporation is doing? The security guards (armed, by the way) escort you out. This is a plus, not a minus.

Crap.

double crap.

out damned italics

nous,

Saddam Hussein might disagree with you there. ;)

Yes, I am discussing the modern state, and really primarily America, since that's where I can speak most accurately (which, it is to be noted, is different from speaking accurately). Also because it's most germane to me: unfair as it may be, I have little to fear from foreign governments, but that paradoxically means I have more to fear from my own.

Anyone want to think for two seconds about whether or not OPEC is a cartel of oil producing GOVERNMENTS?

Anyone want to think for two seconds about the merger of corporations and governments? Hello?

What does this even mean? Politicians can act with almost perfect unity when power is on the line. I feel so much safer.

Well, if you get your nose out of the details, you'll see that you were arguing that governments - unlike businesses - can operate collectively. It's an existence proof that your argument is wrong. My lord, please pay attention.

It is almost like you've never heard of competition.

Yes, and you never heard of the rail road barons, the oil barrons, and apparently laws that prevent monopolies and other anti-competitive practices - practices that would be common place if, drum roll please, not for *government*.

They are much more likely to exist when the government uses government force to keep out competition.

Again, merger of corporations and government.

This the the nub of the problem. But you have it backwards. It's the weak governments that support monopolies. And it's this supplanting of government with corporations which is the thing we're scared of.

"And this is exactly my point. If the governmental watchdogs did not exist, the spinach processor could escape most, if not all, of its liability by muddying the waters when any injured consumers sued."

Actually no. Typically in a consumer product suit if you had anything to do with the product at any time you are on the hook unless you can prove the fault was with someone else AND unless that someone else can afford to pay the damages.

Thanks Andrew, and two small points.

I think the idea that everyone who has argued against Andrew therefore thinks that corporations have more power than government is an assumption into some of our mental images that is not necessarily true. My own view of corporations versus government, at least at this present moment in history, is that they are a bit like the King Kong versus T. Rex fight, and the reason this is is that the power of the two has grown in proportion to each other. Note that this is a chicken/egg thing, and I'm not saying that government was forced to expand or corporations would take over the world. But the thing that you need to do is put those leg chains on the _two_ of them before they start fighting.

To deal with the question of hierarchies, the historic rise of labor unions occurred precisely at a time to put leg chains on one of the participants at a time when they were behaving very badly, so I might suggest that unions took the role of wielder of power from the masses at a time when the government was unwilling to view itself in such a way (of course, war fatigue and a recoiling from the massive control necessary to put down the Civil war played no small part in this). So even though the power differential is not much today, the historical antecedents tell a different story, which is why making the hierarchy as undifferentiated between corporations and unions leads to a different conclusion than the one I have.

"Anyone want to think for two seconds about the merger of corporations and governments? Hello?"

What are even saying there? OPEC is a cartel controlled (in as much as a cartel is controlled, which is much less than you seem to think) by the governments of oil producing states. If you think the merger of corporations and governments in that context means that the corporations are the ones in control you are deeply mistaken.

Typically in a consumer product suit

Suits only exist under a government. Remember, it was the business men that went to the government to create business law so that such suits were possible. Without government, there wouldn't be any of these suits which you are using as an example of the checks on businesses.

Businesses *love* monopolies. They all strive to be one. Everything the do serves this goal. Competition - alone - isn't sufficient to keep this at bay. That's why we have a huge history of laws against anti-competitive practices.

There's only one catch, and that's Catch 22 :

"They can do anything to us
that we can't stop them from doing"

Experience amends this to "can and will"

The American constitutional government
was set up and has evolved mostly
to give the populace a way to stop them, where "them" is the government.
That system worked tolerably well, with lapses of course, for a long time, and I'm hopeful that it can be restored nearly to working condition in the future, after the pendulum swings and we recover from the deep lapse we're living through today.
But what can restrain corporations when they are headed by criminals?
Or by people whose arrogant self-interest blinds them to any ethical relationship with the rest of society. Such people are not rare; in my experience, they're as common in business as they are in politicians. And there's a _lot_ more business people than politicians in the US.

> Does anyone think that a business could get away
> with hiring people to physically assault
> their laborers in today's society?

Yes, of course. It's called Corporate Security, and it's a burgeoning industry.
*You* go try to distribute union literature outside a Walmart, and report back, m'kay? Have a nice time.

You haven't spent much time in the hardscrabble end of the economy, have you?

It happens often -- private security goons rough up someone powerless, and nothing happens to them.
And the reason that it doesn't happen more often is that government authority exists to prosecute private abuses, not because of social expectations. People haven't changed much, but the law and the enforcement of the law have changed dramatically.
Humans are still tribal, xenophobic, irrational, tragic taken either singly or in groups.
The law and government, the Magna Carta, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights -- _these_ are what has changed our culture to a human civilization.

So Democrats rely on government to stop "them", where them is any private agency that threatens the shared civil society. It sorta works, sometimes, and that's usually good enough.
And better than the alternatives.

"They are much more likely to exist when the government uses government force to keep out competition.

Again, merger of corporations and government."

Wait I may have come to a breakthrough. Though Andrew I would have sworn already mentioned it.

When people with a libertarian bent complain about government power are you interpreting that as a complaint about government power except when the government does what corporations want?

Because from my libertarian perspective, when you complain about company power gained only because it can influence the direction and impact of government force, that sounds like something I agree is a problem. That sounds like evidence FOR my case, not AGAINST it.

"Businesses *love* monopolies. They all strive to be one. Everything the do serves this goal. Competition - alone - isn't sufficient to keep this at bay."

Sentence one is true. Sentence two is not. Most cases where competition can't thwart monopolies is due to the fact that government has limited competition.

"Suits only exist under a government. Remember, it was the business men that went to the government to create business law so that such suits were possible. Without government, there wouldn't be any of these suits which you are using as an example of the checks on businesses."

Ok, I'm done. I didn't realize you were arguing with the person who doesn't believe in any government. If you can get responses from him, let me know.

If you think the merger of corporations and governments in that context means that the corporations are the ones in control you are deeply mistaken.

You're down at the microscopic level again and seem to have completely missed the point of this argument.

No one is arguing that corporations are the ones in control. All I was arguing was that many corporations have powers that exceed states. They aren't encumbered as states and that means that they can cause stunning amount of damage. Just like governments.

At least one thread of this argument started because you were making the claim that business are nothing to worry about in comparison with governments. I think they are equal in threat. You seem to be arguing that I shouldn't worry my pretty little head over business because they can't possibly organize collectively like governments. Andrew argues that because they can't raise standing armies that they aren't in the same threat class.

"No one is arguing that corporations are the ones in control. All I was arguing was that many corporations have powers that exceed states."

You mentioned OPEC as an example. It isn't a cartel of corporations. It is a cartel of states. Was it just a bad example?

Because from my libertarian perspective, when you complain about company power gained only because it can influence the direction and impact of government force, that sounds like something I agree is a problem. That sounds like evidence FOR my case, not AGAINST it.

This throws the baby out with the bath water. The problem is your (or at least the abstract libertarian "you") philosophy says governments shouldn't interfere with business. Shuck the anti-competitive practices law. Screw anti-monopoly laws. Let the market sort it out!

The problem is that without these government functions, precisely what you fear is the end result.

So, from my perspective, I want a strong government which is accountable to me (the collective "me") to prevent the same crap you're worried about.

From my lefty perspective, when you complain about government power gained only because it can influence the direction and impact of corporate force, that sounds like something I agree is a problem. That sounds like evidence FOR my case, not AGAINST it.

Andrew argues that because they can't raise standing armies that they aren't in the same threat class.

Indeed I do. To which you respond that, because business can induce government to do its bidding, that makes business at least as dangerous as government. Personally, I still see that as a threat from government, since in your hypothetical government is being abused (I hope we can at least agree on that) to serve the interests of a particular business or class of businesses. But I'm still having my liberties taken away by the government, not by the business. The fact it's at the behest of a business gives me good reason to a) decry excessive government power and b) work for good government, but the threat is still the government and not the business. For the government can also do those things without the business, while the business cannot do those things without the government.

Most cases where competition can't thwart monopolies is due to the fact that government has limited competition.

Really? So who's the competition of the US government? What felled the rule of the rail road barrons? What brought down the oil barrons? Was there some competition the US governemnt faced that allowed these actions to come about?

Hal,

Please answer this question: are you of the belief that government power is unimpeachable as long as it is not being used at the behest of business?

"From my lefty perspective, when you complain about government power gained only because it can influence the direction and impact of corporate force, that sounds like something I agree is a problem. That sounds like evidence FOR my case, not AGAINST it."

The difference is that you think the government shouldn't do what the corporations want, it should do what you want.

I think the government shouldn't be doing many of those things at the beck and call of anyone.

Andrew -- Hussein was a head of state, not a CEO or a religious leader. Conflicts between heads of states are resolved through political policy by whatever means.

Malawi, on the other hand, may have something to say about the relative control they have over their own territory compared to the corporations that were operating there while they were under IMF regulation. So might Argentina.

"Most cases where competition can't thwart monopolies is due to the fact that government has limited competition.

Really? So who's the competition of the US government?"

I think you are misinterpreting 'has'. I'll restate: "Most cases where competition can't thwart monopolies is due to the fact that government has acted to limit competiton."

To which you respond that, because business can induce government to do its bidding, that makes business at least as dangerous as government.

No, to which I responded that a corporation, unlike a government, doesn't need a standing army to merely exist. It's called dead weight. If the government didn't need a standing army to keep it's people in line, it can do so much more. This is one reason why the US is so powerful. If, like most countries, our government had to use the army to control people instead of sending them into foriegn countries, our power would be far, far smaller than it is now.

while the business cannot do those things without the government.

IIRC, you don't work for a large corporation, do you?

nous,

Sorry...was just trying to lighten things up a little. It's so tense in here these days I'm thinking about investing in a coal mine.

The fact it's at the behest of a business gives me good reason to a) decry excessive government power and b) work for good government, but the threat is still the government and not the business. For the government can also do those things without the business, while the business cannot do those things without the government.

But (as I argued in the post you linked) the problem isn't excessive government power. The least power that it is practical for a government to have is enough for corporations to co-opt for oppressive purposes -- you can't have a government without police powers, and once it has police powers, it can misuse police powers. The problem is inadequately controlled government power. And a lot of things that seem to look to people of your ideological bent like expansions of government, or inefficiencies, look to me like controls on government power -- regulations mandating transparency, Civil Service protections, that sort of thing.

you don't work for a large corporation, do you?

Based on your line of argument, I suspect that I do.

But (as I argued in the post you linked) the problem isn't excessive government power.

I think that's ultimately a matter of opinion rather than fact. Though I do concur with your assessment that whatever power a government has will be enough to tempt corporations into attempts to co-opt it, which is an excellent argument (to me) for both minimizing government power and placing as many brakes as possible on it.

regulations mandating transparency

I can speak only for myself and not for others of my ideological bent, but I have no objection to more transparency in government.

Andrew -- no worries and no crankiness here.

I think you are misinterpreting 'has'. I'll restate: "Most cases where competition can't thwart monopolies is due to the fact that government has acted to limit competiton."

Apologies. I did misinterpret that.

However, the reason why the government acted was because of the power of the business man. Power isn't the issue. It's what the power is used for. You and Andrew seem to be claiming that it's the mere fact the power exists is a bad thing and therefore, it must be stopped.

My point is that government will always exist. The question is what form. Business will use government - if the people let them do it. This has been the case throughout history. It's only recently that people have been pushing back, severing this collusion between business and government. That's where we are today.

What you seem to be pushing is the rolling back of the very thing that seems to be the only weapon available to people to keep bad government from happening.

IIRC, Andrew used to have a graphic from the Incredibles on his old blog. What you both seem to be saying is that we have to limit the power in our own government - power which we use to make our lives demonstrably better than it was in the past - because it might be used for bad purposes if things go wrong or the wrong people are running things.

This belief seems like a suicide pact.

Based on your line of argument, I suspect that I do.

Well, I'm certainly not making that point. I actually do think we have a pretty darn good country and system of government... However, I've always wondered about your chosen profession and how you can be a part of the very thing - heck, the very *weapon* - that your philosophy seems to hold out as the antithesis of what should be happening.

Myself, I don't see any problem with it, but - at least from my perspective - it would seem like there's a lot of cognitive dissonance in your daily life.

IIRC, Andrew used to have a graphic from the Incredibles on his old blog. What you both seem to be saying is that we have to limit the power in our own government - power which we use to make our lives demonstrably better than it was in the past - because it might be used for bad purposes if things go wrong or the wrong people are running things.

First of all, you clearly need to visit my site more often. As should everyone, quite frankly, because I keep the best stuff over there.

Second of all, I would submit to you that government power will be used for bad purposes. Not only that, but I'll go you one further and tell you that government power is being used for bad purposes right now, and I'm amazed that any reader of this site can suggest otherwise with a straight face.

I've always wondered about your chosen profession and how you can be a part of the very thing - heck, the very *weapon* - that your philosophy seems to hold out as the antithesis of what should be happening.

If there is a God, He's got a sense of humor. I'm in the Army because it's the only thing I've ever been good at. On the other hand, despite what a number of my readers seem to believe, I am not an anarchist, and even very few true libertarians dispute the need for a nation to maintain an army.

I agree generally with LB's comments, and think that corporation vs. government discussions aren't all that useful, unless one is ready to talk about specific aspects of government power.

Any government is going to have the power to arrest people on suspicion of having committed a crime. I realize that Sebastian and Andrew are not positing a government that lacks this power. But once there is such a power, there is potential for abuse.

Any government is going to have the power of eminent domain. Only in la-la land is a government unable to compel the sale of lands for public roads. Limitations on this power to make it unusable at the behest of corporations -- utilities, railroads, shopping mall builders -- are a fine subject of discussion, but it's a discussion you're going to have to have with the people who represent the corporations, not 'the Left.' I'm not sure we would want to have a world where a utility can't force the sale of a strip of land to build a power line -- there are real advantages to having power generated in big facilities (like, eg, Hoover dam), and then shipped across wires to a bunch of other places where it can be used (like, eg, Los Angeles). The world where utilities and railroads can't run lines with even minimal efficiency isn't exactly what most folks on either side of the Lib-Lib divide would want.

Lastly, I agree that the federal government is very powerful -- it can nuke my house, for God's sake. My health insurance company is also powerful, as it can deny my claims (were I to have one -- I'm not hinting at illness here). Obviously, the power to nuke my house dwarfs the power to deny my insurance claims, but guess which one I'm more afraid of? This is because I'm not a nut about what the relative risks actually are.

I'm amazed that any reader of this site can suggest otherwise with a straight face.

I'm not suggesting otherwise.

The reason why we're currently in the state were in wrt this country is because the mechanisms we relied upon to keep it in control have been systematically and purposefully thwarted. Are you calling for a revolution? I do seem to remember something about all enemies foreign and domestic.

But that would be silly, wouldn't it?

But it does seem like your argument is pretty much the standard stock of Greenpeace and anti-nukes. All power can be used for bad purposes. All power is likely being used for bad purposes at this point in time. It doesn't mean we should shun power. It means we have to be smart.

Unfortunately, for our country, we've kind of lost sight of that. IIRC, a lot of that had to do with demonizing the left and a concerted effort of making "liberal" a pejorative.

Hal,
I'm sure you didn't intend this, but even though your comment was framed innocuously, it seems to be really close the coloring outside the lines. Andrew's work needs to be separated from the points he is arguing, or the whole thing just gets too personal. Andrew handled it with aplomb, but I'm not sure everyone else can be counted on to be as even tempered

LJ, my apologies. I'll step away from that line... Didn't mean anything by sidling up to it.

Andrew, you say that the government is abusing its power. OK, can you cite an example where the proper solution is deprive it of the power, and the cure doesn't end up worse than the disease?

I ask because, as I noted on the prior thread, each power of government arose from specific circumstances.

I'll throw a monkey wrench into the discussion by noting that corporate power is simply a delegation of government power. Corporations are chartered by governments and all the advantages that have made them such a successful business model are granted by governments. My libertarian leanings tell me that the two greatest mistakes made by the founding fathers were allowing people to be treated as property and leaving the door open for property to be treated as persons. It is time we remembered that the major advantage granted to corporations is absolving the owners of a business of responsibility for how that business is conducted. How about we move to restore some responsibility?

How about we move to restore some responsibility?

Rather than seeing everything in terms of increasing power, I tend to see things in terms of disintermediation, so that new and wonderous ways have been created to prevent people from taking responsiblity/considering the implications of their actions. Thus, I tend to think that 'restoring responsibility' isn't really in the cards, new ways of attaching responsibility is the only option available.

Charley,

Sure. Remove the power of government to enter people's homes without a search warrant that meets a strict probable cause standard, enforce the exclusionary rule on any search and seizure in which the police do not announce themselves and give the resident at least two minutes to answer the door, and prosecute officers who fail to meet these standards or who harm innocents in the course of executing a warrant.

I'll bet you any amount you care to name that making that one change alone would be a hell of a lot better than the disease.

"And your point is what? That the Chamber of Commerce operationally controls any of its members?"

No. If you care to move the goalposts, I can't stop you. It wouldn't be the first time.

You stated: "But 'business as a whole' doesn't really exist."

I demonstrated it does. Now you're moving the goalposts to ask about "operational control."

That's nice.

It would be awfully nice to have a discussion without your being called on this, Sebastian.

"I ask because, as I noted on the prior thread, each power of government arose from specific circumstances."

And then applied in areas vastly different. Let me try an analogy. I have a friend who was really, horrifically abused as a child. He was tortured mentally and sexually abused by multiple people who should have been keeping him safe. As a result he developed all sorts of defense mechanisms that helped him get through his teen years. I'm certain that these defense mechanisms were necessary to keep him from turning into a raving lunatic and/or commit suicide.

Now he is in his 40s and he can't form good relationships with people. The same things which helped him survive his teens--depersonalizing sexuality, not trusting, lashing out with anger--are making his whole life miserable now.

His defense mechanisms weren't created by him for no reason whatsoever. But they are screwing up his life now.

Baskaborr,

I'm a bit confused. It's my understanding that corporations got their standing through an overreaching court reporter. Where did the founding fathers err in this matter?

His defense mechanisms weren't created by him for no reason whatsoever. But they are screwing up his life now.

And so the logical conclusion is that we should strip parents, guardians and other people with power over children of this power?

That would be the solution to preventing tragedies like your friend's?

"I demonstrated it does. Now you're moving the goalposts to ask about "operational control."

That's nice.

It would be awfully nice to have a discussion without your being called on this, Sebastian."

The Chamber of Commerce isn't "business as a whole" in any analogous sense to the government.

Full stop.

We are discussing it in reference to the government, and since my comment has a context replying to an actual statement: "I am pointing out how I view business as a whole as a greater threat -- because so many of my daily decisions depend on the good actions of business."

My response wasn't just that it didn't exist it was that the category was unuseful to the conversation:

"But "business as a whole" doesn't really exist. That is like saying that "people as a whole" worry you because many of your daily decisions depend on the good actions of people."

Your Chamber of Commerce suggestion is not a counterexample proving that "business as a whole" exists in the sense that Dantheman used it.

That isn't me redefining anything. That is you failing to bother with the context of the conversation so that you can engage in nit-picking--which in this case is completely off the mark.

If we are going to talk about what would be nice in a discussion--it would be really nice to have one with you that didn't involve not-to-the-point nit-picking.

Here is why I consider corporations to be a greater threat to me and my well being than government.

Government is accountable to me. Corporations are not.

I vote for my selectmen, state rep and senator, governor, federal rep and senator, and president. I communicate with all of their offices on a semi-regular basis. Other the President, I receive replies that indicate that, at a minimum, my opinion has been registered.

I know, personally, all of the above up to and including my federal house rep. Many of these people live in my community, I know their families, I know where they live, and I can go talk to them if I want to. I can contribute money and time to any political person whose views I support.

I have absolutely no access to any significant officer of any corporation whose actions are likely to influence my life. I cannot call them on the phone. Try sometime, and see if you get through. If I write them I receive nothing other than a boilerplate response. I cannot vote for them unless I am a shareholder, and then only as a formality.

They have legal obligations to maintain a certain degree of financial transparency, and they can't break any laws. Other than that, they do whatever the hell they want, and I have nothing whatsoever to say about it.

The government has an army. I have never, at any time, believed that the government's army would do me the slightest harm.

Corporations have money, enormous amounts of it, measured in the billions of dollars. I have never, at any time, doubted that they would screw me in a heartbeat if they could get away with it, if it meant they could make more.

It's not because the people in corporations are bad people. By far, most are not. On the contrary, most are excellent people. It's because the raison d'etre of corporations is to make the most efficient use of capital while limiting the liability of the investors. That is, historically, legally, and in fact, why they exist.

If this was an authoritarian state, I would feel differently. It's not, and that's why I, personally, will exert myself in every way I can to put Democrats back in power. They have their faults, but they don't seem to have that authoritarian streak that seems to plague Republicans.

As long as the government remains accountable to me, I don't worry about it's monopoly on force. I worry far more about the ability of corporations to use their financial resources to further their own interests at the expense of mine.

If corporations wish to make themselves accountable to me, my opinion will change. I don't see that happening.

Thanks -

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