It's good to be the Prez
Posted by aogThursday, 14 May 2009 at 20:16
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The new Chrysler-Fiat partnership will get around U.S. restrictions on executive pay by having its top officers deemed Fiat employees.
— Detroit Free Press
Given that the same government has both created those restrictions and obtained a controlling interest in Chrysler, we can reasonably presume that this avoidance meets with the approval of that government. Anything for a friend, eh?
Sunday, 17 May 2009 at 11:31|
I for one welcome our new socialist overlords. 30 hour work weeks, universal medical care, luxury mass transit, and assured retirement are looking real good about now. Real good.
Anyway, the accumulation of wealth into fewer and fewer hands followed by its confiscation and redistribution is one of those naturally reoccurring historical cycles that no statesman or economist has ever figured out how to break. As noted by historian Will Durant:
“Since practical ability differs from person to person the majority of such abilities, in nearly all societies, is gathered in the minority of men. The concentration of wealth is the natural result of this concentation of ability, and regularly reoccurs in history. The rate of concentration varies (other factors being equal) with the economic freedom permitted by morals and laws.… Democracy, allowing for the most liberty, accelerates it. … In progressive societies the concentrtion may reach the point where the strength of numbers of the many poor rivals the strength of ability of the few rich; then an unstable equilibrium generates a crtitical situation, which history has diversely met by legislation redistributing wealth or by revolution redistibuting poverty.”
In other words wealth and power always concentrate into fewer and fewer hands. This eventually makes a society unstable. Stability can be restored either peacefully through legislation and taxation, or violently by revolution. Examples of the first include the reforms of Solon in ancient Athens and FDR’s New Deal in America. Examples of the latter include the Protestant Reformation, the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and the fall of the Shah of Iran. Once a degree of levelling has occured, wealth accumulation begins another cycle, until society again becomes unstable and the process has to repeat itself. The only choice availalbe to us in this inevitable historical cycle is whether the redistibution is to be accomplished peacefully (by regulation and taxation) or violently (by guillotine, firing squad or gulag).
But redistribution of wealth occurs as needed during the cycle and cannot be stopped anymore than the tide coming in or the sun going down - no matter how much you complain or protest. Because of the blindness and greed of the wealthy few in the financial sector, America has reached that point.
And it is a good thing that redistribution of wealth happens, otherwis our political freedoms would be endangered. Wealth is power - and power corrupts. A few wealthy oligarchs can use their money and influence to make a sham of any democracy. When the concentration of wealth creates an oppressive ruling class, freedom is dead no matter what is written in the constitution. A perfect example of this would be the history of the late Roman Republic (before the Empire). When the dust settled and Octavian emerged as sole ruler (and first emperor) of Rome, the Republic was dead and replaced by a hidden dictatorship. Rome still called itself a Republic, elections were still held, and the Senate still debated. But the power was held by only one man.
My wish is that America avoid the fate of Rome by following the example of Solon and by repeating the actions of FDR. Now can the taking of often hard earned and honestly gained wealth from the capable few and giving it to the less capable many be considered fair? Of course not. It is a completely unfair act. But there are more inmportant things than fairness, like political freedom and preserving it from the danger of concentrated wealth.
To finish by quoting Durant again: “The government of the United States in 1933-1952 and 1960-1965, followed Solon’s peaceful methods and accomplished a moderate and pacifying redistribution; perhaps someone had read history. The upper classes in America cursed, complied, and resumed the concentration of wealth.”
|Annoying Old Guy
Monday, 18 May 2009 at 15:11|
Wow, take a weekend off and this happens.
A few points —
Have a balance of power between regulators and the regulated
Many of us think that balance should be that the regulators set as few and neutral rules as possibles, and the regulated decide how to act within that framework. The current system is for the regulators to actively intervene (such as deciding on pay limits, or handing ownership of private companies to favored political allies). Perhaps you might be so good as to tell us how the Obama Administration measures up to this balance you favor.
the danger comes from the very rich taking effective control of the political process
Ah, might one not mitigate that danger by reducing the scope of action of the government? Would it not be far better to forbid the government from doing a thing, than to constantly worry about who might get control to do that thing?
For an excellent example of how the concentration of wealth destroyed a republic look at the histroy of the late Roman Republic from the assassination of the Gracchi to reign Augustus. All this occured while the Roman middle class, the equites, were the wealthiest they had ever been.
I was taught in my college classes on the Roman Empire of that period that, in fact, the middle classes were effectively wiped out. In fact, wiped out in a manner rather reminiscent of the Obama Administration’s economic policies.
go back to the start of the financial meltdown and you will see that the worsening economic conditions preceded a power grab by the government (just like the Crash of ‘29 preceded the New Deal)
Yet the start of the financial meltdown was much more than 6 months ago. You were the one who set that time limit, are you now abandoning it because it didn’t work out? My claim is that the actions of the Obama Administration caused the problem, my claim is that those actions are making a problem in to a disaster. You have yet to make even a counter-claim to that, much less present evidence for it.
Let’s look at this quote you provide
Since practical ability differs from person to person the majority of such abilities, in nearly all societies, is gathered in the minority of men. The concentration of wealth is the natural result of this concentation of ability, and regularly reoccurs in history
This rests on a rather static view of an economy. Is there no death in this model? No shift of talent between generations? Or does this concentration happen all within a single generation? Might one not look at, say, Sam Walton, as an example of this concentration and note that
- Sam Walton shifted the concentration from others to himself.
- His descendents are on a downward spiral of less concentration of wealth.
Or does that not fit The Narrative?