The phrase Crony Capitalism is being bandied about a lot lately, with the usual implication being that Capitalism, of the laissez faire sort, is just peachy, and it is only when the poor, innocent, just-fell-off-the-turnip-truck-last-night Capitalist is seduced by yon Politician, dressed in red with fishnet stockings, and hanging out beneath a street lamp, that miscegenation occurs, and an illegitimate bastard named Crony Capitalism, pops its little head out of the birth canal and proceeds to pay Mommy and Daddy back for their illicit tryst, at a murderous rate of interest. And, the only way to keep this type of third rate rendezvous from occurring, is to end all government regulation that stands in the way of said Capitalists from making as much money as their grubby little yacht can ferry to the Caymans.
But, this type of apologetic, is NOT new. It has been pushed before by the unlikeliest of propagandists, the Apologists for Communism. While Karl Marx was able to conceive of a economic/power system whereby the means of production were centrally planned and controlled, it took the non-philosopher types like Lenin and Stalin and Mao to move the process along from books to bullets, so to speak. And here is where the problems with Communism arose. It is hard to push the ersatz compassion of from each according to his abilities to each according to his needs when millions are being slaughtered or condemned to various gulags and labor camps. Even for those who could swallow the twin b0-b0s of death and imprisonment, and still mumble something about sacrifices, the common good, and omelets, the comparison between Communist and Free Market economies was unsettling.
People behind the Iron and Bamboo Curtains were hungry, cold, and condemned to suffer shoddy goods, when goods could be had at all. Vehicles, affordable by only a few, were complete pieces of crap, if home made. Meanwhile, on the other side of The Wall, people ate well, sat warmly in winter, coolly in summer, and could afford to trade in their clunker every three years for a brand new clunker! Dead Kulaks notwithstanding, this kind of stuff was giving Communism a bad name. People were beginning to snicker.
Sooo, the idea of Crony Communism (although not called that) was invented. The trick was to divorce the theory of Communism from the reality of Communism by blaming the problems on the political side. Communism per se wasn’t bad, it was just the way pure Communism was hijacked by these evil and/or misguided folk like Stalin. What people were seeing in The USSR and Red China wasn’t REAL Communism at all! It was just the perversion of Communism by intercourse with the political class, and if only you could go back to pure laissez faire economic Communism, free from all that transitional political pollution stuff, then Communism would work like a charm!!!
Now, the same silly argument is being advanced by the Apologists for Capitalism. The last three years, and arguably the last thirty or so years, have been nothing if not a complete indictment of the failures of either under-regulated or stupidly-regulated Capitalism. Mark Rosenfelder (Zompist) wrote of this several years ago, and used the Banana Republic meme so rare then, and so common today.
Economics and Politics are just nicer names for Money and Power. Perhaps the two were not so intertwined in The Garden of Eden, but outside the East Gate, past the Cherubum and the Fiery Sword, the two have been getting it on for quite a while. Read the Code of Hammurabi and see how many of the laws relate to contractual and economic rights. What is particularly ironic is that the damning of Crony Capitalism is pouring out of the same mouths who then turn right around and beg the government for favors! Gee, sometimes the best favor a cop can do for a crony is to just look the other way while a crime occurs.
While rightfully castigating the recipients of bailouts for having privatized their profits while socializing the costs, or interfering in the process, the same advocates then plead for the government to interfere in the process, and end regulations–including minimum wages, worker’s comp, and pollution laws or, begging for tax breaks to locate their new Widget Factory in the Lucky State or Fortunate Nation, all so that they might make a few extra bucks while passing the costs along to society. I am reminded of Me, as a teenager, begging for the car on Friday night because I was mature and adult enough to be careful and get home on time, and then Me, locking my bedroom door, laying on my bed with my stuffed animals, kicking my feet, and crying because Daddy said, “No.”
Communism and all other systems where the government has too much power are going to degenerate into the Monstrosities of People’s Republics. Capitalism and all other system where the few have too much power are going to degenerate into the Monstrosities of Banana Republics. I think the Human Race can do better than either of those.
Bonus: Tito and Tarantula’s “After Dark” – From Dusk Till Dawn