Bill Black: Mankiw Hearts “Governmental Competition” That Made Romney Rich

Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Cross posted from New Economic Perspectives.

This is the second part of my discussion of N. Gregory Mankiw’s column asserting that governmental competition is desirable for the same reason that private competition is. Mankiw was Chairman of President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors from 2003-2005. He was one of the principal architects of the perverse incentive structures that proved so criminogenic and drove the ongoing financial crisis. He gave no useful warnings of the necessity for containing the developing crisis – even after the FBI’s September 2004 warning that mortgage fraud was become “epidemic” and would cause a financial “crisis” if it were not contained. He is now Mitt Romney’s principal economic advisor. His column favors the “competition” argument that led him to support crippling financial regulation even as private sector competition led to endemic fraud.

Mankiw is a moral failure as well as a failed economist. His infamous response to Akerlof and Romer’s 1993 paper (“Looting: the Economic Underworld of Bankruptcy for Profit”) was that it would be “irrational” for CEOs not to loot “their” corporations. He ignored all of the prescient warnings we made about how accounting control fraud drove our crises and he continues to ignore those warnings and the reality of our recurrent, intensifying financial crises. He wants the U.S. to move even more rapidly downward in the “competition in regulatory laxity” that is driving those crises.

Mankiw is serving as Romney’s propagandist in chief. He is writing columns trying to defend Romney’s vulnerabilities, e.g., claiming that Romney should pay a marginal income tax rate that is lower than the marginal rate his secretary pays. In the column I am responding to, Mankiw chose this frame for his analysis: “SHOULD governments — of nations, states and towns — compete like business rivals?” (The capitalization is in the original.) He answered his question in this self-referential manner.

[K]nowing that I have to keep up with the Paul Krugmans and the Glenn Hubbards of the world keeps me on my toes. It makes me work harder, benefiting the customers — in this case, students. The upshot is that competition among economics textbooks makes learning the dismal science a bit less dismal.

For much the same reason, competition among governments leads to better governance.

The title of Mankiw’s article reflects his claim: “Competition Is Healthy for Governments, Too.

It is inevitable that Mankiw thinks that competition makes his textbook superior. I leave analysis of that claim to future columns to be written with the aid of readers. I am announcing a competition among readers of our New Economic Perspectives blog at UMKC. I will provide “Mankiw Mendacity and Morality” t-shirts to the providers of the three top suggestions from readers of our blog (and Mankiw’s textbook) for the worst predictive and policy follies contained in that textbook. See details on our website.

Suffice it to say here that Mankiw’s belief that his ability to sell a textbook famous for its failed predictions and theories demonstrates the success of private markets in helping students learn actually constitutes proof of the market’s folly.

This column represents the second part of my discussion of his claim that the public and private sectors are sufficiently similar that competition in both sectors benefits the public. All three premises are overstated and frequently false. It is not true that competition in the private sector is unambiguously socially desirable. It is not true that completion in the public sector is typically desirable. (That will be the subject of the third part of my discussion of Mankiw’s ode to governmental competition.) It is not true that the public and private sectors are typically sufficiently comparable that they should be run under the same governance principles. Mankiw also ignores the destructive interaction effects of encouraging unrestrained public and private sector competition. (Those claims will be the subject of the fourth and fifth parts of my discussion.) I argue that competition in the public sector is generally a grave error and that competition in the private sector has become increasingly harmful because regulation and law enforcement has been crippled by Mankiw’s policy of encouraging “competition in laxity.”

Mankiw conflates “choices” with “competition” when he discusses government. We may benefit from the ability of a federal system to have what Justice Brandeis referred to as laboratories for experimentation. The competitive dynamic, however, is frequently harmful in government.

Government is not Just Like Business and Governmental Competition is Often Harmful


Determining whether competition among governments is desirable as Mankiw argues requires us to examine the areas and manners in which governments compete. I start with a fundamental duty of government (as many governmental leaders have conceived the task) – national security and conquest. Some governments seek to conquer other nations or regions and seize wealth, people, and power. Each of the nations that is currently a major power, and was previously a major power over the last 300 years has engaged in conquest as a major function. Nations (and, in civil wars, rival governments) engaged in armed struggle are engaged in the ultimate form of competition. Even when wars are fought with restraints they are vicious. The explicit goal in less restrained wars is to ensure that the competition ends. The rival nation and people are destroyed. Carthago delenda est (Carthage must be destroyed) is the famous cry. (Mankiw’s version of Cato the Elder’s murderous demand would be “financial regulation must be destroyed.”) The “competitor’s” people are annihilated in a genocidal fury or their cities razed and their populations sold into slavery. Terror is a common tactic of governments, failed states such as Afghanistan under the Taliban, and would be-state actors such as the IRA “competing” with nation states. Woman and children are often targets. Rape is common and sometimes a deliberate tactic. Torture and atrocities are common. Mass deaths and maiming are expected.

Competition in the run-up to war, or the effort to deter war, is also typically destructive from an overall societal standpoint. We engage in arms races and battleship races that lead to a waste of resources whether or not the war occurs. The opportunity costs of taking many of our brightest thinkers and skilled engineers out of inventing, developing, and manufacturing useful goods and services and diverting them to figuring out clever means to maim and kill is severe.

Some nations and proto-national movements engage in warfare by non-traditional means. They launch cyber attacks, counterfeit other nation’s currencies, and kidnap foreign nationals to trade them for cash and weapons. They sell illegal drugs or counterfeit goods to fund their efforts.

Governmental military competition is a leading cause of death and misery. This competition can be seen as essential from the standpoint of individual nations, but it is, net, a social catastrophe. It threatens our survival as a species given weapons of mass destruction. It is not “healthy.”

Economic “War”

Some nations compete economically by theft. One form is the theft of intellectual property by conventional means, but nations also use their intelligence services to steal trade secrets and learn about other nations’ secret international trade bargaining positions. They suborn foreign nationals as secret assets who will betray their nation’s interests. Another form of economic warfare is factory fishing. This can produce over-fishing and habitat destruction that can permanently destroy other nations’ traditional fishing industries. Nations and their businesses compete with other nations and their businesses (an example of the interaction of public and private competition) for exports by bribing foreign nationals (particularly government officials).

International Tax Competition

All nations are affected by international tax competition and some nations engage in it as their defining function that shapes the entire nation. Tax havens are the ultimate in tax competition. They typically exist to shelter wealth from taxation in the nations where the wealth was generated in order to evade taxation, launder the proceeds of illegal sales, and allow secret transfers of funds to commit crimes such as the 9/11 attacks. Banks, accountants, and attorneys help corporations engage in complex frauds to evade taxes including schemes that use “transfer pricing” to make it appear that the profits were earned in the tax haven. Tax havens benefit principally the exceptionally wealthy and criminals. They typically become corrupted. The OECD attempted to eliminate tax havens. The incoming Bush administration blocked the proposed OECD initiative, arguing that tax havens caused desirable tax competition that led to reduced corporate taxation. The Bush administration claimed that reduced corporate taxation was desirable. After the 9/11 attacks, funded through tax havens, the Bush administration reduced its opposition of the OECD effort, allowing a weaker version of the initiative to be adopted. Tax havens reward criminals and terrorists. They distort competition by allowing some corporations that evade taxation a great economic advantage over other corporations. They increase wealth inequality. The competition is unhealthy.

That perverse competition has helped to make Romney wealthy. His recent, minimal disclosures of tax information demonstrate that he has long had money hidden in the Cayman Islands. That nation exists to serve as a tax haven to those seeking to evade taxation and launder funds. We do not know why Romney has accounts there or how much money he has in the accounts because he has refused to make that information public. Mankiw’s ode to governmental competition is designed to protect Romney from criticism, but it demonstrates the opposite.

Mankiw’s column asserts that it is “it is noteworthy that [Obama and Romney] agree on the direction [the corporate income tax] should head.” It is “noteworthy” that both Obama and Romney are proposing reductions in the U.S. corporate income tax rate. But one must focus on the word “should” and how Mankiw uses that word. He does not prove that the U.S. “should” further reduce its U.S. corporate income tax rate because such a rate is actually excessive in any real economic sense. He simply shows the effect of international competition for corporations – it leads unambiguously to lower corporate income tax rates. He assumes that the reduction is desirable – he assumes his own desired policy. When Obama proposes to cave to international competition to reduce corporate income tax rates he does not prove that it is socially or economically desirable to have a lower statutory corporate income tax rate (the effective U.S. corporate income tax is already quite low). Mankiw’s example actually proves the harm of governmental competition to benefit corporations. Government leaders, regardless of party or policy views, are coerced by the competition to give ever greater tax breaks to corporations. Mankiw, and Romney, want to lower corporate taxes and intend to cut them more than Obama. Who will they tax instead? They do not say. Again, Mankiw’s effort to justify Romney’s eagerness to reduce Romney’s already exceptionally low tax payments actually demonstrates how harmful governmental competition is.

Anti-Environmental and Anti-Labor Competition

Corporations place nations in competition to harm their workers, environments, animals and plants, and citizenry. In 2006, a Netherlands company delivered toxic waste to contractors in the Ivory Coast who dumped it in and near the capital (Abidjan). Corporations engage in illegal coal mining in China. They, seek local governments that are weak in enforcing the laws against illegal mining. The illegal coal mines are often death traps for the workers and dispose of mine materials and contaminants in unsafe manners. Businesses seek out the governments with the weakest regulation and criminal justice systems to harvest trees illegally. U.S. and European businesses contract for suppliers in nations that do not enforce their labor laws. Apple’s own “audits” show that its suppliers routinely and recurrently violate the labor laws – year after year despite purported promises to stop their unlawful actions. U.S. corporations seek to end union representation by locating in states hostile to unions. By placing the states in competition, U.S. corporations have created an increasing number of states hostile to unions.

The “Competition in Laxity” in Financial Regulation

My prior column emphasized this area. I add my spouse’s (Professor June Carbone, UMKC Law School) comment on the fact that Mankiw and the Bush administration’s financial anti-regulators were extreme opponents of financial regulation by the states and sought to prevent any competition in vigor by the states by preempting state financial regulation wherever possible. June remarked that his support for preemption demonstrated that Mankiw supported the “competition in laxity” in regulation not because it produced competition, but because it produced laxity.

Government Competition in International and Interstate Trade

I explained in my first column that the Framers drafted the Constitution, particularly the interstate commerce and supremacy clauses, to restrain the competition among the states that was one of the principal causes of the failure of the Articles of Confederation. The states competed to provide their domestic businesses with advantages over businesses located in other states. This competition crippled interstate commerce and harmed economic development. Similarly, the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) are designed primarily to restrain competition among the nations. Member nations are generally forbidden to compete by providing special benefits to domestic firms or imposing special burdens on foreign firms.

Competition in State and Local Public Finance

Consider three examples of harmful competition among U.S. states and localities. Where taxation is local, competition creates a powerful incentive among the rich to cluster in wealthy communities. Elementary and secondary education is largely paid for by local school districts through property tax revenues. Cities compete to exclude the poor and working class by mandating minimum lot sizes, blocking multi-family housing generally, and public housing in particular. The inevitable result is that poorer communities have to charge dramatically higher property tax rates to obtain far less per capita school funding than wealthy cities can obtain with low property tax rates. Education is the route to entry into the upper classes, so the competition among cities for wealthy citizens leads to inadequate school financing in poorer school districts, exacerbates inequality, and reduces social mobility out of the lower classes. We could easily avoid these harmful effects by funding education at the state or national level, which would greatly reduce this form of local governmental competition. The wealthy, however, are eager to perpetuate these advantages for their families and have blocked state and federal funding of elementary and secondary education. Localities with poorer citizens cannot “win” this “competition” for the wealthy. The deck is stacked in the favor of the wealthy.

Some States compete for businesses by charging lower corporate income tax rates. This competitive dynamic works in only one direction, reducing corporate income tax revenues. The competition leads to greater State funding by sales taxes, which are highly regressive or moderately regressive if food is excluded from the sales tax.

States and localities compete for businesses by offering enormous tax breaks. This is particularly true when a business threatens to move or close a facility to another state or nation. Romney became wealthy largely through exploiting this perverse competitive dynamic. Private equity firms like Bain Capital do not make profits through brilliance. They make money largely by threatening desperate states and localities that are in financial distress. The threat is that unless the business Bain has acquired is granted enormous new tax concessions Bain will close or relocate the business in another state or nation.

Mankiw does not explicitly address the competition among states and localities to provide tax subsidies to businesses. At best, the competition is zero sum – states and localities that win the competition do so at the expense of other states and localities. It is far more likely, however, that the competition is negative sum. It distorts competition by giving some companies a competitive advantage over their rivals and its functions to reduce overall state and local governmental revenue. This leads to greater reliance on regressive sales taxes and property taxes on un-favored owners – people like us. Mankiw’s ode to governmental competition again fails to cover Romney’s flanks from criticism for becoming wealthy largely by extorting desperate state and local governments to give Bain Capital’s corporate holding special tax breaks or suffer plant closures.

President George W. Bush was made wealthy because the owners of the Texas Rangers over-compensated him – well beyond what he should have earned for the percentage of stock he owned – for convincing the local government to provide the baseball club with valuable land concessions and other governmental subsidies. Bush was an oft-failed oil businessman whose expertise was finding dry holes. He used his political connections to get governmental subsidies and the owners decided that making the Governor of Texas and prospective Republican candidate for the presidency wealthy by over-paying him was an excellent business move. Crony capitalists simultaneously pervert private and public “competition” to make the governmental and private leaders wealthy. Governmental competition to attract and retain professional sports teams is another example of a negative sum transaction.

In future installments I will discuss why private sector competition, making private sector governance the model for the public sector, and the interaction effects of crony capitalism competition can all cause catastrophic harm.

Print Friendly
Tweet about this on Twitter0Digg thisShare on Reddit0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Facebook0Share on LinkedIn1Share on Google+0Buffer this pageEmail this to someone


  1. YankeeFrank

    This Mankiw fellow is a walking, talking punch line. He thinks he’s being cute when he asserts corporate officers would be irrational not to loot “their” companies. First off, they have a fiduciary duty to the actual owners of the corporation — you know — the people who can honestly refer to the corporation as “theirs”. So this supposedly rational looting is rationally illegal and unethical. One can only assume Mankiw thinks he’s cute when he says things like this.

    But then its pretty clear that he thinks there is merit to the stupid competition-in-all-things meme he pushes. My guess is he loves cozying up to millionaires like Mittens, and pushes the insipid and corrupt lies he does because it gains him influence and standing with the plutocracy. There is no obscene rationalization he won’t promote in his push to become the most ridiculous man standing. I get the feeling he loves spouting his idiocy as a dare — to see how much he can get away with and still belong to the club. That there is literally no failed prediction, no soul-suckingly immoral idea he can spout that will get him booted is testimony to the shallow era we are living in. And the fact that any candidate running for the presidency would have a failure and boob like Mankiw as an advisor just points to the decadence and moral decay at the heart of the current incarnation of the capitalist horrorshow. Mittens and Mankiw 4ever. I might get off my ass and vote for Obama just to see them fail.

  2. chitown2020

    We don’t need a multimillionaire tax evader for President who gained the system by using and abusing it. I just heard a politician say that the College loans are a stage 4 cancer of socialism. I would have to say the entire country is stage 4 thanks to all of the lies and deceptions by the FED and what they really do with the peoples money. They have been pillaging the U.S. TREASURY DEPT. and ripping us off for decades.

  3. jake chase

    I would only add that competition among States for incorporation business is the cause of our absurd corporate governance failure that has turned public corporations into executive fiefdoms.

    Toadying economists seem to be one of America’s few remaining growth industries. It is too bad we can’t export them.

    1. UncoolFred

      I had the same question about a possible typo. I think “crippling” is a verb, not an adjective – as in he wants to “cripple regulation”, not support “crippling regulation”. Not a great construction.

    2. nonclassical

      ..can’t export them? Read William Blum’s, “Killing Hope” or Perkins’ “Confessions of An Economic Hit Man”…

      South and Central America, 70’s-80’s…Milton Friedman-Ayn Randers exported
      “Chicago Boys”, to do the bidding of banks…

  4. bmeisen

    Black rolls out the big guns even though Mankiw uses the conditional and lots of modals in an op-ed piece:

    “If the government’s job is merely to provide services, like roads, schools and courts, competition among governmental producers may be as good a discipline as competition among private producers. But if government’s job is also to remedy many of life’s inequities, you may want a stronger centralized government, unchecked by competition.”

    Still I agree: in this battle we shall take no quarter.

    Is that a typo at the end of the first paragraph?

    “…that led him to support crippling financial (de)regulation”

  5. F. Beard

    (Mankiw’s version of Cato the Elder’s murderous demand would be “financial regulation must be destroyed.”) Bill Black

    The counter for that is: “Then all government privileges for the banks must be destroyed too such as a lender of last resort, deposit insurance, legal tender laws for private debts, Federal borrowing, etc.”

    If competition is good (and it is) then why the heck do we have a government enforced/backed money monopoly for private debts?

    1. bluntobj

      Agree. When the state is the prime source of competitive advantage, order and value soon fail. Corruption, overreach, and destruction follow.

  6. Greg R

    Mankiw was pied piper of offshoring back in the Bush administration. Dems would be wise to dig up some of those blatherings.

      1. Daily MoveOn

        Immelt was invited up to the White house to talk about giving Americans mo’ jobs. By appointing the GE outsourcer to, Obama has outflanked his republican flankers to become a leading Republican. 4 more years! 4 more years! (Drool at the mouth! Wet my knickers!)

      2. Daily MoveOn

        Immelt was invited up to the White house to talk about giving Americans mo’ jobs. By appointing the GE outsourcer, Obama has outflanked his republican flankers to become a leading Republican. 4 more years! 4 more years! (Drool at the mouth! Wet my knickers!)

  7. Thorstein

    Let’s just take this to one historical conclusion: if competition among states is good, then, by Mankiw’s traditional economics, the Supreme Good is war.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      T, of course. War is the most lucrative “business” on earth, pure gravy for the .01% owners of its means. And “the end justifies the means.”

  8. Steve Roberts

    States, cities and counties are actively in competition. We see it all the time as they compete to lure corporate jobs, real estate development and investment dollars to make their citizens wealthier and it tends to work over time. Countries are in the same situation but sadly, it’s considered wrong for the US government to participate in this competition. Mexico, China, Ireland, Vietnam, India have governments that recognize this and are taking steps to lure jobs, wealth and investment to their lands. If we aren’t willing to compete with them at a federal level, we’ve lost. Holding up the banner of patriotism as your mantra is going to fail. It always has throughout history.

    1. Aquifer


      Methinks you have it bass ackwards – unless of course the “we” you refer to is the 1%. The “citizens” who are made wealthier are the ones laughing all the way to the bank as they con their respective municipalities into gutting the sources of revenue they need to maintain schools and public services …

      I am old enough to remember when politicians touted “development” as the way to increase jobs AND the tax base. Now they push for development in the name of jobs – at the expense of the tax base – and don’t even deliver the jobs. Scams like this have been going on in NY for decades – their agents are the IDAs – “Industrial Development Agencies” – just about every county, city has one. They are the watering holes for the local crony capitalists …..

  9. Skeptical

    Let’s not forget the lie Mankiw perpetrated about capital gains treatment of “carried interest” in the NY Times.

    Mankiw claimed that hedge fund mangers deserve capital gains treatment because they put their capital at risk. Except they didn’t. The scam about “carried interest” (a term that appears nowhere in the Internal Revenue Code). Hedge fund managers get capital gains treatment on the 20% commissions they take from their clients’ profits.

    It’s a disgrace that Harvard students spend thousands in tuition dollars to listen to this bloviating right wing crackpot.

    1. CaitlinO

      As I recall, a class full of Harvard students boycotted this bloviating right wing crackpot last year. I’m not sure what happened with that, but it sounded like a good start.

      People like Mankiw who are wrong over and over again and whose errors cost others their livelihoods, homes and lives need to be not just boycotted but tarred, feathered, and run out of town on a rail.

      I’d love to take part in Dr. Black’s textbook challenge but can’t think of a way to do it without supporting Mankiw by buying his danged book.

  10. Paul Tioxon

    Mankiw’s Malthusian complex, coupled with his deviant Darwinianism is obsessed with competition. He would have us live in a constant state of the war of each and everyone against all, all of the time. His simple minded extension of the methodology of the economics discipline into political policy speaks for itself. It is money talking, and everything else to this feeble bourgeosis mindset is bullshit walking. The most obvious rebuttal to the claim that political entities should engage in competition, a nation state “GAME OF THRONES”, is war and all of its atrocities.

    But of course, Mankiw assumes a perfect state of equilibrium where human emotion is bleached out of the fabric of society where equals stand before each other and trade equivalent value for equivalent value in an orgy of market making. And we all get what we want because the best in humanity is brought forward in a rational process guided by reason and the determining of the right price. The problem of course, is that everyone does not have enough money for their desires and so, work around the civil market mechanism and use force, violence, murder, warfare. It is this utopian fantasy that our social order can be replaced by the market order as written in the Uniform Commercial Code. Oh that humanity could be uniformly coded, would that be a profit maximizer!

    1. NSA Recommended Bloggin'

      Holy bejeezus Nixon, that almost made some sense. In a good way. Let’s party.

  11. p78

    Help needed for a purchase: Could somebody recall the title of the book detailing how G W Bush got wealthy from the sports team? Thanks.

    1. hoops

      “Help needed for a purchase: Could somebody recall the title of the book detailing how G W Bush got wealthy from the sports team? Thanks.”

      Family of Secrets by Russ Baker

      A great book which delves into the Bush dynasty and even puts a new and interesting spin on the Watergate Scandal and the JFK assasination

  12. Eagle

    “He gave no useful warnings of the necessity for containing the developing crisis”

    Given Mankiw’s repeated attempts to call attention to the GSEs, you are certainly employing a unique definition of useful.

    Stopped reading after this, I asumme the remainder is filled with similar half-truths and exaggerations.

    1. Hugh

      If we didn’t have the GSEs, there would be no housing market at all right now. Where the GSEs went wrong was not their quasi-governmental associations but that they acted like private sector companies with all the cronyism and sleazy business practices these entail. And even then it wasn’t them but the Magnetars that turned a housing bust into a worldwide financial meltdown.

  13. indio007

    “[K]nowing that I have to keep up with the Paul Krugmans and the Glenn Hubbards of the world keeps me on my toes.”


    Oh yes it’s so hard to keep up with Krugman.
    Only if you itemize how many times he can be wrong in one paragraph.
    Data….? We don’t need no stinkin’ data!

  14. Goldman Takes Europe

    The gangsters PR is wearing thin on the people. We can’t be like them though, gotta love peace, love and understanding or no one gets out alive.

  15. Hugh

    “Mankiw is a moral failure as well as a failed economist.”

    Pretty much says it all. Mankiw is one of kleptocracy’s whores. His whole purpose is to give intellectual cover to looting. Our elites credential themselves and then use those credentials to prove they have expert standing. So if Mankiw has a gig at Harvard and writes economics textbooks, he must really know what he talking about. It doesn’t matter if he is very nearly always wrong. He’s an expert.

    It’s all rather like the wizard in the Wizard of Oz. If he wasn’t a great wizard, how could he be the Wizard of Oz? And pay no attention to that bumbling humbug behind the curtain. It would all be amusing if it weren’t for the fact that the Mankiws of this world enable the great crimes of the kleptocrats, and those crimes are destroying our society, and us.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Hugh, is there a correllation between the compensation of Mankiw and the income into the coffers the “Harvard Endowment” from “the world of finance?” How about the that of Larry Summers?

  16. Mel

    Correlation isn’t causation, but we were better off (even if no-one else was) when our nomenklatura had to compete with the Soviet nomenklatura.

    1. CaitlinO

      Yeah. Whoever thought things would get to the point where it makes sense to be nostalgic for the fifties?

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Mel, are premier “Economics” faculties not in fact Soviets of the Financial Security States of America. Don’t they all speak the same “Economics” Party Line?

  17. LeonovaBalletRusse

    NC reader alert: this morning e-posted from Dealbook:

    “Lawmakers Support Shifting Financial Oversight [#] A PLAN, introduced by the House financial Services Committee, would shift from federal authorities to groups backed by the financial industry, most likely the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.” [caps mine]

    Shame shifty names/groups, and the “plan.” Is this an act of treason?

  18. jal

    Businesses are striving to attain MONOPOLIES.

    That is the only competition that exist in the market place.

  19. C

    To all those points I would simply frame it this way:

    Businesses exists solely to enrich their individual members materially. Governments exist to protect their citizens against external threats and to ensure the rights and pursuits desired.

    One is solely for and about money the other is about much much more. By reducing it to competition in markets Manikow engages in the common cognitive bias of economists, that of viewing the entire world through money. He further aims to reduce the sum total of civilization to a pile of cash and nothing else and, in so doing, guarantees his own answer.

    To put it another way, you don’t live in your stock portfolio. You invest in it to make money, you live in a neighborhood, city, state, and nation for reasons other than their immediate “competitiveness.”

    I for one am not going to move to Singapore just for their attractive tax regime, its’ too hot, I don’t know anyone there, and I like my free speech and diversity.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      And you’ll be caned if caught chewing gum.

      It is a little-known fact outside of Elite Business School circles, that Singapore became the Neoconlib Capitalist ideal in the early eighties, because it fits the “ultraconservative” Authoritarian notion of paradise on earth, for the “good” people who preach Golden Age “free trade.” This is why we have “privatized” (financialized) prisons that follow the Angola Plantation Prison model. They are Ultraconservative Two-fers: They penalize the weak/the “bad” severely, and bring steady profits to self-righteous “good” investors in the “investment’s” stock price and prison-slave system (world-cheap labor Stateside, supply-chain profits, product export profits, rise in stock price, bonus/option rackets for corporate owners). This is Plantation “MORAL POLITICS” for C. 21, based on “Raffles” and “Tara” moral systems. For How it Works now, as then, but under a novel “free trade” umbrella, recall:

      “FRUITS OF MERCHANT CAPITAL: Slavery and Bourgeois Property in the Rise and Expansion of Capitalism” and “The Mind of the Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholder’s Worldview” by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and Eugene D. Genovese.

      Faulkner was right.

  20. Suzan

    Did anyone else think of Paul Wolfowitz when reading the condemnation of Mankiw’s credentialing?

    He is exactly the same type in national “leadership” roles as Mankiw plays in economics.

    And they are always exposed as frauds or con artists.

    I kept thinking for years that someone will organize a “run them all out of town” party, but it’s beginning to look like they’re starting over at the top.


  21. Lidia

    I think it’s great if governments compete with each other, but am I free to choose among them or does a particular nation insist upon OWNING me?

Comments are closed.