Ayn Rand had another name for what today we call “The Swamp”. That label was (and is): the mixed economy.
We are not a capitalist system any longer: we are a mixed economy, i.e., a mixture of capitalism and statism, of freedom and controls. A mixed economy is a country in the process of disintegration, a civil war of pressure-groups looting and devouring one another.
Bernie Sanders and other socialists look at the status quo and complain. Some of their complaints are rational. Government-business partnerships are corrupt. But their solution is the wrong one. Socialism will intensify the evils we see, not eliminate them. Everything the socialists accuse private business persons of will be the total reality under a socialist system. Under a socialist system, there is no ownership, no incentive, no rational desire to please customers. There is only command, control and rule — by politicians and bureaucrats.
And then there’s lobbying. We no longer call it lobbying, because the entire process has morphed into The Swamp.
“Lobbying” is the activity of attempting to influence legislation by privately influencing the legislators. It is the result and creation of a mixed economy—of government by pressure groups. Its methods range from mere social courtesies and cocktail-party or luncheon “friendships” to favors, threats, bribes, blackmail.
Without government intervention in the marketplace, there would be no rationale for lobbying. Lobbying is nothing more than the attempt of a business to defend itself against government mandates or taxes. Or, in the negative direction, lobbying can be an attempt by an inept business to obtain government favors or subsidies it could never obtain from willing, interested parties in a free market. Large corporations often lobby FOR government regulations because they know it will shut out competition. How fair is this?
Lobbying is awful. But you can’t blame it on capitalism. And socialism will not eliminate it. Socialism will hand over all control and ownership to the government. All the good things—products, services, choices, variety, efficiency—that businesses bring into people’s lives go by the wayside under socialism.
The only rational alternative is actual capitalism—where government totally stays out of business altogether, other than when punishing force, fraud or the violation of voluntarily-entered-into contracts.
Lastly, Rand wrote:
“As a group, businessmen have been withdrawing for decades from the ideological battlefield, disarmed by the deadly combination of altruism and Pragmatism. Their public policy has consisted in appeasing, compromising and apologizing: appeasing their crudest, loudest antagonists; compromising with any attack, any lie, any insult; apologizing for their own existence. Abandoning the field of ideas to their enemies, they have been relying on lobbying, i.e., on private manipulations, on pull, on seeking momentary favors from government officials. Today, the last group one can expect to fight for capitalism is the capitalists.”
Sadly, that’s still true today. Donald Trump represents perhaps the last gasp of business and free enterprise trying to assert itself. President Trump is not an ideological advocate of capitalism, because he’s not particularly ideological. But unlike his Democratic counterparts, he roots for tax cuts, lifting regulatory burdens, and he sincerely believes that economic growth and prosperity are good things. He correctly sees that illegal immigration has become a way to entrap people from impoverished countries in America’s vast welfare system from the moment they cross the border, to ensure Democratic and socialist victories for generations to come. Socialists don’t care about prosperity and economic growth, other than as tools to advance their own power and fund their government-run programs.
Socialists act and speak like capitalism is immoral and disgusting. Yet without the dollars generated even by the limited, hampered capitalism of a mixed economy, socialists would be dead in the water. They denounce as immoral the very thing they depend upon to uphold what they consider moral. THIS is the fatal weakness—the philosophical Kryptonite—within Democratic and socialist ideology. A moral attack on Democrats would leave them even more on the defensive than they are now, and could ultimately destroy them.
What we have now is NOT capitalism. It’s a mixed economy. It’s The Swamp as Ayn Rand described it even back in the 1950s and 1960s. Only capitalism can deliver the goods.
Capitalism is moral because it leaves people alone, it rewards success and it punishes error. It’s rational, it’s logical and it’s ultimately far more humane than the mediocrity, stagnation and despair fostered by government red tape, bureaucracy and injustice. All of us know how even a little bit of government bureaucracy is crude and demoralizing. Imagine an entire society based on it. That’s what socialism is.
Capitalism is, as Ayn Rand wrote, the unknown ideal. Even today, it’s more unknown than ever. It does not have to stay that way. America is hurtling toward a major crisis or upheaval of some kind. On that, everyone can agree. Let’s make sure it’s the right kind.
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