I was a guest on National Public Radio earlier this week, where I debated a left-of-center law school professor. The host asked me whether President Obama could deal with the tension between his agenda of higher government spending and targeted development and the business interests of new advisors with business backgrounds such as former JPMorgan exec Bill Daley, and current General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt. “What tension?” I asked. Why in the world would a past TARP recipient and future green energy recipient like GE object in the slightest to Obama’s vision of a world of targeted government “investments” in what he believes to be the industries of the future?
The fact that Immelt is a Republican is as beside the point as the fact that Daley is a Democrat. Increasingly our nation is divided, not between Rs and Ds, but between TIs and TBs: tribute imposers and tribute bearers. The imposers are gigantic banks, agri-businesses, higher education Colossae, government employees, NGO and QUANGO employees and the myriad others whose living is made chiefly by extracting wealth from other people. The bearers are the rest of us: the people who extract wealth from the earth, not from others.
What is the difference between crony capitalism and socialism? Not much. Both systems are based on a lack of appreciation of individual liberty. Both systems depend on elaborate centralized bureaucracies. In both systems, large proportions of people work for the government. Does it really make that much difference whether the government money is reported as W-2 income as opposed to 1099 income? Don’t the favored people become rich under socialism?
The QotD is that last paragraph, but I thought you’d appreciate the setup. It’s from The American Nomenklatura by Jerry Bower at Forbes. Good piece. RTWT. Kinda goes along with the “Apparatchiks and Entropy” theme.
UPDATE: In related news, General Electric paid no taxes in 2010. In fact, it collected $3.2 billion in tax benefits. “What tension?” indeed.