Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Monday, April 6, 2015

A Word To The Wise

While we wait for Megan McArdle to wait for Tyler Cowen or Mark Bittman to say something so she knows what to write about, let's look at a post on the Daily Beast, McArdle's ex-employer.

A Conservative Case Against Big Business

Oh noes! What would McArdle say to this attack on her Superfriends?

A few years ago, liberal Bill Scher (my Bloggingheads sparring partner) penned a New York Times op-ed titled “How Liberals Win.” His conclusion? They win when they co-opt big business. “The necessity of corporate support for, or at least acquiescence to, liberal policies,” he wrote, “is not a new development in the history of American liberalism. Indeed it has been one of its hallmarks.”

That certainly rings true in a week where big businesses like Apple and Wal-Mart helped sink laws meant to defend religious liberty. (In both cases the laws have been amended—but many conservatives believe the “fix” is worse than having no law on the books.) This is ironic, since conservatives are assumed to be in bed with big business—and since at least one of the companies involved has been culturally associated with so-called red state values.

The suspense is killing me! Will author Matt Lewis realize that Big Business uses tea party-types when it wants to get richer and dumps them when the conservatives cost them money? It looks doubtful since Lewis begins by pinning corporate capture on liberals.

As Catherine Rampell noted at The Washington Post: “Even Wal-Mart, not exactly known for its liberal values, came out against comparable legislation in its home state, saying it ‘sends the wrong message about Arkansas.’” Apple CEO Tim Cook’s public condemnation of the religious liberty laws was far less surprising. But even here, we see troubling hints about Senator Rand Paul’s quixotic promise of bringing techies and Millennials—blocs of voters that are supposedly libertarian-leaning—into the fold. Good luck with that. When push comes to shove, these voters will disproportionally pull the lever for Hillary—both to make history, and because they will be told that the Republican nominee—yes, even if it’s Rand!—is a bigot. The promise that the GOP can merely tweak its image and find new allies is a long shot, at best—and surely not one worth betraying its old allies—social conservatives.

Conservatives were told-by libertarians-that young people and the technological class would vote Republican because that's what libertarians do, which is an interesting and correct admission. However libertarians are also trying to convince themselves that young people are naturally libertarian. Conservatives see any sign of morality as proof of conservatism and libertarians see any rejection of authority as proof of libertarianism. Robert Draper:

Meanwhile, the age group most responsible for delivering Obama his two terms may well become a political wild card over time, in large part because of its libertarian leanings. Raised on the ad hoc communalism of the Internet, disenchanted by the Iraq War, reflexively tolerant of other lifestyles, appalled by government intrusion into their private affairs and increasingly convinced that the Obama economy is rigged against them, the millennials can no longer be regarded as faithful Democrats — and a recent poll confirmed that fully half of voters between ages 18 and 29 are unwedded to either party. Obama has profoundly disappointed many of these voters by shying away from marijuana decriminalization, by leading from behind on same-sex marriage, by trumping the Bush administration on illegal-immigrant deportations and by expanding Bush’s N.S.A. surveillance program. As one 30-year-old libertarian senior staff member on the Hill told me: “I think we expected this sort of thing from Bush. But Obama seemed to be hip and in touch with my generation, and then he goes and reads our emails."
Let me quote this one libertarian; he will stand in for all liberals.
Early polls show young voters favoring Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016, but their support could erode as they refamiliarize themselves with her, just as it did in 2008. Clinton has been even slower than Obama to embrace progressive social causes, while in foreign policy, she associates herself more with her former Senate colleague John McCain than with noninterventionists. Nor is Clinton likely to quell millennial fears about government surveillance. Welch says: “Hillary isn’t going to be any good on these issues. She has an authoritarian mind-set and has no interest in Edward Snowden, who’s a hero to a lot of these people.”
Since progressive do not have a say in Democratic politics that should not be a problem.
Back to Lewis:
Back to big business. For a while now, conservatives like Tim Carney have inveighed against “crony capitalism,” pointing out that big business doesn’t really like free markets. Big business is fine with killing off the competition by means of onerous governmental regulations only they can comply with. That’s because they have the resources to hire the lawyers needed to navigate regulations, and the lobbyists who can help change the rules if necessary.

We’ve seen other examples, however, of big business putting profit margins ahead of principle. Don’t forget how big business sided on Obamacare. How could forcing millions of uninsured Americans to buy coverage from private companies not be good business for both the insurance and the pharmaceutical industries? Meanwhile, conservatives who oppose immigration reform often cite the support of big business for “Amnesty.”

We discovered that not only will Big Business shaft people for money, Big Business will shaft people for money.

I think it’s time that social conservatives also realize that big business isn’t their friend, either. My theory is that there are essentially two groups of people you have to be wary of: big government and big business. Conservatives have typically obsessed over the former, while attempting to co-opt the latter. And who can blame them? Most of the other powerful coalition groups are natural allies on the left. As we have demonstrated, having big business on your political side is often the difference between winning and losing public policy battles.

But while conservatives might sometimes have to form a temporary alliance with business, they should remember that this isn’t necessarily a natural alliance. If you’re a conservative, you do have to worry about government (and be cognizant of the fact that bureaucrats don’t care about you). But you must also distrust the people trying to sell you things.

Yes, the Republican party should be wary of getting in bed with Big Business. That might lead to problems in the future.

If you’re a social conservative trying to raise kids in the modern world, consider this: Who’s trying to sell them destructive “products” ... violence, promiscuous sex, unhealthy lifestyles, bad food, etc.? It’s probably not the government. It’s much more likely to be big business trying to turn a profit. Do you think these fat cats actually care about you or your family? Hell, no. They’re trying to make a buck.

Unlike all the times Big Business tried to cut wages and remove safety and financial regulation. That was proof they really love your family.

So what does this mean in practice? Conservatives should ally with big business when it suits their interest. But remember, these folks aren’t their friends. And when the left launches it’s next liberal war on Wal-Mart, conservatives should perhaps consider that it’s not worth wasting much political capital to defend the big box behemoth. What I’m saying is that future arrangements can be seen as casual, not permanent. It’s a hookup, not a marriage. Big business shouldn’t be surprised by this. As the saying goes: “You knew what this was.”

Watch out, Big Business. Libertarians and conservatives have their eyes on your and you won't be able to get away with any shenanigans!


Anatole David said...

"Liberal war on Wal-Mart"! The Democratic party since the 80's has loved Wal-Mart. Hillary Clinton worked as a corporate lawyer for them. Bill Clinton's sting as Governor of Arkansas was great for Wal-Mart. Even better when Bill Clinton became President--Wal Mart backed him! He even signed advantageous trade bills to help Wal Mart grow. This is well known. Even Michelle Obama did promotional work for Wal Mart during her healthy foods push. How can some living the past 20 years think the Democratic party is at war with Wal Mart?

Anatole David said...

stint, not sting but interesting typo

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

The Democratic party since the 80s has become increasingly unliberal (and more corporatist), Anatole David, and the Clintons have led the way.

Susan of Texas said...

The Clintons lied to us to get into bed with the money people. It worked wonderfully. They made a fortune and their daughter went to work for a hedge fund.

Lewis lies and pretends conservatives don't get their power from big business, and that his audience doesn't know this.

Draper lies and pretends Reason, Gillespie and libertarians aren't a joke.

Obama lies for the same reason as the Clintons.

Everyone's devoted followers lie and pretend they don't see what they see.

Megan McArdle lies and gets new jobs, a book contract, public speeches, and media appearances.

I tell the truth and I am poor and unimportant.

Which one of these people is the fool?

Roger said...

McArdle, definitely.