Green Mountain Socialist senator Bernie Sanders puts it very plainly in a recent CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer: any talk of “free enterprise” or “the market economy” when it comes to the largest Wall Street banks and many other large corporations/industries is empty rhetoric. In this realm of political-commercial oligarchy, decisions about leadership, investment, products and services, organizational development, etc. are not made under the logic of market competition but instead through complex relational jockeying among top executives and investors aimed at expanding and perpetuating their oligarchy, especially via their influence over politicians, regulatory agencies, and the courts.
They have captured their regulators (in institutional economic terms) and, in the interests of both American democracy and our long-term economic prosperity as a people, need to be busted up and re-regulated.
Thank you, Bernie, for your clear articulation of this. (Goes to show what remaining independent does for one’s ability to speak honestly and frankly about the affairs of the nation.)
There’s nothing especially noteworthy about this situation – China runs this way, Russia runs this way, the Vatican runs this way, Machiavelli lived and breathed this logic, and so did the senate and consuls in ancient Rome – but America remains committed (last time I checked) to popular, representative democracy as the way to secure the general Welfare and the Blessings of Liberty (preamble to the US Constitution). As long as this commitment stands, circumstances such as those of the present simply cannot be allowed. Look at what happens.
Next week, Sanders will be introducing legislation to force a breakup of the six largest banks in the US.
By the way, if the concentration of influence, capture of government, and failure of both markets and democracy is a problem in the financial sector, what about other industries? On Tuesday, in his coolly received lunchtime keynote at the VBSR conference in Burlington, Vermont, Seventh Generation CEO John Replogle marveled at the fact that Wal-Mart’s economy was now as large as the GDPs of the poorest 161 nations combined. Um, concentrated much? Where is that going to lead…?
MBA students of the world, ask yourselves: is it your lot to do the bidding of the few, the influential, and the democratically unaccountable – and hope a few crumbs fall from their table that put you slightly ahead of every other laboring schmuck in the disintegrating middle class – or should you be able to freely take risks and throw your energy, creativity, and skills into the ring with others like you and create the good society and the sustainable prosperity that you and your community deserve? Think about that question. Get involved. Study political economy. Because Sanders is quite accurate in both his diagnosis and his proposed treatment, and whether he succeeds or not, you need to understand why, for the sake of your own humanity.