Risks of Deregulation

I have quite enjoyed a recent conversation with Adam Magoon and Brandon Christensen on the former’s post, Risks Of Regulation. While my comments on the post were distantly spaced in time, the subject often came to mind in the interlude. At the present moment I would like to expand more upon my mental meanderings regarding corporate and government power, and will likely deviate beyond the scope of the original post. While on the subject of the original, I never intended to challenge the notion

“that these regulations were essentially written by the corporations who would be doing the drilling.”

As I plainly stated,

“I would bet dollars to donuts that the regulations cited in this article were developed and supported by corporate interests.”

I admit this was redundant within the conversation, as that point had been clearly made in the post and then repeated previously in (and within) the comments. It is a popular sentiment. I did not mean to imply that bankers should write oil regulations. I did mean to stand in solidarity with Mr. Amburgey’s remarks concerning unicorns and pixie dust. More specifically:

“But they weren’t doing anything they didn’t want to do anyway [see the point just above] they were just externalizing the downside risks. As Adam points out ‘If the site is not economically viable then there is no reason to drill there.’”

It is excellent that we are agreed that the State is a tool used by Capital to externalize its risks* thus creating an opportunity for profits from an otherwise undesirable venture. Mr. Magoon soundly makes an excellent point on this matter. To question the practicality of the proposal to end all regulation is not to misrepresent it, but to continue the conversation.

The State does not corrupt Capital so as to pursue a venture with such potentially catastrophic and damaging consequences. While severing State and Capital would partially disarm and so initially weaken Capital, it has no effect upon a human’s desire of the lower appetite contrary to reason. Lobbyists, bureaucrats, employers and employees are all human.

The post does not persuade me that regulation is not “a protective shield from the ‘dangers’ of the businessman.” If any businessman tells you that government regulations have not dissuaded him from dubious conduct, he is blowing smoke up your @$$. It is the invisible hand of the market that beckons sensuously, while the menacing hand of government threatens to slap at the wrist. It is also true that the hand of the market is a provider and comforter, while thugs wear brass knuckles of government might. The State, Capital and Labor are all states of Society in which Man naturally lives.

This is deteriorating into a metaphor about three-legged stools not wobbling… Of course there’s also the one about molecular bonding! Anyway, I hope you can grok my trip.

Afterword

There is something to be said for unions. They undoubtedly offer some restraint against abuses. It is quite unfortunate that they were compromised by organized crime so early. Of course, there’s also that pesky concupiscence thing about both the mobstersand union members.

*Have you ever encountered a situation where the State externalized its risks to Capital?

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Conscience and Capitalism, too

There is an important social dialogue taking place throughout the developed world concerning the problems of capitalism. Unfortunately, two factors are severely hampering the discussion: the tendency to speak in shorthand, and the narrow polarity of the dominant paradigm.

The English language is filled with words that have many and/or broad definitions. The “-isms” tend to belong to this group of words. In the interest of time and not boring people to distraction before making a point, we tend to toss these words around lightly without taking the care to define exactly what we mean by them. We speak in shorthand, but we are not always speaking the same shorthand.

The narrow polarity of the dominant paradigm is a significant issue which deserves adequate treatment. However this is not the post for it. For now, in this context, let it suffice to say that the polarity is defined by capitalism vs. socialism. Rarely does one encounter another position, such as distributism or mutualism. That said, let us return to addressing the shorthand plaguing “-isms”.

It is important to recognize a distinction between respectable capitalist ideals and the bastard capitalism which is enslaving the world. Appendix Zain to “The Illuminatus! Trilogy” begins with four quotes:

Property is theft.” – P.J. Proudhon

Property is liberty.” – P.J. Proudhon

“Property is impossible.” – P.J. Proudhon

“Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The appendix goes on to discuss property1, property2, and property3. In short, property1 (= theft) is established by “artificial laws of feudal, capitalist and other authoritarian societies” and therefore requires “the armed might of a State to force people to honor it”. Property2 (=liberty), in contrast, would “be honored in a free society of rationalists”. Finally, the struggle between property2+1 (= property3 [taking some license with this elaboration]) creates so much conflict that society consumes itself and all property, making property impossible, at least insofar as property1 is present. The mistake of Objectivists is two-fold: to assume that property1 = property2; and Objectivism is Satanism. These mistakes are closely related.

A common mistake in diabolical thought is to focus on one truth to the exclusion of all other truth. Ayn Rand makes many excellent points about the virtue of applying one’s skills and efforts to create value. That value is then traded for value to mutual benefit. Money stands as a symbol and vehicle of that value. These are all admirable and true values. Unfortunately, her experiences of persecution by the Bolsheviks seem to have pushed her beyond the middle way, and in reaction to the collectivist, communist evils seen in her youth she pushes hard into the equally dangerous territory of pure self-interest.

Along the same line of thought, I propose:

Capitalism1 is theft.

Capitalism2 is liberty.

Capitalism* is impossible.

Capitalism1 exalts wealth above all other values, moral, social, ecological or otherwise. Defining monetary wealth as the highest good justifies whatever means to the end of acquiring more wealth. This is the capitalism of the corporatocratic empire that has purchased the mainstream media (left and right, don’t forget about the narrow polarity) and much of the government. At the present moment it appears that capitalism1 has won.

But there is capitalism2, too. Socialism, and certainly not communism, is not the only alternative to capitalism1. Skilled and diligent work should reward both the entrepreneur and the laborer with its fruit. The capitalist2 is free to value morals, society, and the world outside of the “market”. The people are free to patronize commercial institutions that uphold their common values. This freedom is an opportunity to shift the values of our society in a positive direction.

Capitalists1 have purchased immense political power with the money the people gave them. As a result, the people’s votes at the polls are of little value. The votes that have value now are the votes that capitalists1 value, your money. If you want to encourage values beyond money, the current subjective reality demands that you invest money in those values. Capitalism with a conscience is capitalism2.

Related:

Reclaiming the Commons Appalachia

‘Social Streets’ and the mutual aid economy

Pope Francis, Does an Anti-Capitalist = a Socialist?

Do Distributists dream of electronic cryptocurrencies?

Dear Wall Street