Andrew Young is usually credited with the term, “Socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor.” The point is, in modern America some businesses are able to keep their profits as private, and pass their failures off as public debt. For example, if a company is designing a jet for the military, it passes off the cost of research and development onto the public sector. After the plane is perfected, it is easily adapted into a private model that then becomes pure profit. If bank management wants to run scam mortgages that are enormously profitable, but which damn the customer to bankruptcy, that banker will still get a golden parachute when all is said and done. If they are good enough, they may even end up as a regulator in the Bush or Obama administration. It’s a shell game that makes some incredibly rich, and others undeservedly poor.
Noam Chomsky often points out that the top 100 corporations in the Fortune list of transnationals, all received government subsidies, and many of them received government bailouts. So he says, “the wealthy use free-market rhetoric to justify imposing greater economic risk upon the lower classes, while being insulated from the rigors of the market.”
Even free market fanatics like Newt Gingrich play the system. All the while he was ranting about big government spending, his own district received more subsidies for business than any other in the nation. A typical Republican administration usually spends as much if not more than a Democratic one, they just slash public sector spending and give it all to private businesses.
We have lived through a time of unprecedented business profits, but stagnant wages. That means that the rich have used the rest of us and kept the money. So allow me to make a brief list of how the rich have run up the debt and now blame government spending for their own mischief:
Bailouts where individuals got rich and the public had to pick up the tab
Stimulus packages and incentives where individuals got rich and the public had to pick up the tab
Questionable wars where individuals got rich and the public had to pick up the tab
Lost revenues from tax cuts for the wealthy where individuals got rich and the public had to pick up the tab
Lost revenues from underpaid and unemployed workers where individuals got rich and the public had to pick up the tab
Blaming government for our debt is like blaming a kidnap victim for any robberies that took place while he was tied up in the back of the van. Picture a modern multinational corporation as Godzilla and our government as the Japanese army. The libertarian answer to our debt is to shrink the Japanese army and to deregulate Godzilla. Our democratic government has been taken over by corporate money, which means we need to restore democratic control over our lives, but only democratic government can do that. So we need to wean government from corporate money, not further deregulate the corporations that are being used to rob us and drive our nation into the ground.