Shareholder Capitalism’s Ugly Legacy

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Yves here. Given his importance, particularly in moving US values to the right, we’ve written often about Milton Friedman, particularly his claim that corporations exist to maximize shareholder profit. From Why the “Maximize Shareholder Value” Theory Is Bogus:

Further confirmation comes from a must-read article in American Prospect by Steven Pearlstein, When Shareholder Capitalism Came to Town. It recounts how until the early 1990s, corporations had a much broader set of concerns, most importantly, taking care of customers, as well as having a sense of responsibility for their employees and the communities in which they operated. Equity is a residual economic claim…

Why do so many corporate boards treat the shareholder value theory as gospel? Aside from the power of ideology and constant repetition in the business press, Pearlstein, drawing on the research of Cornell law professor Lynn Stout, describes how a key decision has been widely misapplied:

Let’s start with the history. The earliest corporations, in fact, were generally chartered not for private but for public purposes, such as building canals or transit systems. Well into the 1960s, corporations were broadly viewed as owing something in return to the community that provided them with special legal protections and the economic ecosystem in which they could grow and thrive.

Legally, no statutes require that companies be run to maximize profits or share prices. In most states, corporations can be formed for any lawful purpose. Lynn Stout, a Cornell law professor, has been looking for years for a corporate charter that even mentions maximizing profits or share price. So far, she hasn’t found one. Companies that put shareholders at the top of their hierarchy do so by choice, Stout writes, not by law…

For many years, much of the jurisprudence coming out of the Delaware courts—where most big corporations have their legal home—was based around the “business judgment” rule, which held that corporate directors have wide discretion in determining a firm’s goals and strategies, even if their decisions reduce profits or share prices. But in 1986, the Delaware Court of Chancery ruled that directors of the cosmetics company Revlon had to put the interests of shareholders first and accept the highest price offered for the company. As Lynn Stout has written, and the Delaware courts subsequently confirmed, the decision was a narrowly drawn exception to the business–judgment rule that only applies once a company has decided to put itself up for sale. But it has been widely—and mistakenly—used ever since as a legal rationale for the primacy of shareholder interests and the legitimacy of share-price maximization.

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a former economics professor, who was United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, and received the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought. Originally published at his website

Milton Friedman’s libertarian economics advocating shareholder capitalism has influenced generations trying to understand the economy, not only in the US, but all over the world.

He was not just an academic economist, but an enormously influential celebrity conservative ideologue who legitimized ideas for the like-minded, including the belief that ‘greed is good’. Now, shareholder capitalism’s consequences haunt the world and threaten humanity with stagnation and self-destruction.

Friedman’s Lasting Influence

In 1962, Friedman published his most influential book, Capitalism and Freedom. In September 1970, the New York Times Magazine published his essay, The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase Its Profits.

The article — reiterating the Friedman Doctrine, presuming perfectly functioning markets that only exist in the minds and writings of some economists — is a manifesto for American shareholder capitalism. It inspired the counter-revolution against Keynesianism, development economics and other state interventions.

The word ‘competition’ appears only once, in the last sentence. Yet, some supporters insist that Friedman was not ‘pro-business’, but rather ‘pro-market’. But, unlike capitalism, the market has been with us for several millennia and has happily co-existed with unfreedoms of various types.

Perfect competition rarely exists due to inherent tendencies undermining it. Hence, various challenges to Friedmanite wisdom. For half a century, information and behavioural economics have challenged his many assumptions, certainly much more than the Austrian School advocacy and defence of capitalism.

Thus, Friedman conveniently ignored ‘market imperfections’ in the real world, although or perhaps because they undermined the empirical bases for his reasoning. So, even if Friedman’s logic was true, reality prevents profit-maximizing firm behaviour from maximizing societal welfare, if not cause the converse.

Meanwhile, Friedman’s monetarist economics has been discredited, and has little practical influence anymore, especially with the turn to ‘unconventional monetary policies’, particularly after the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. Yet, his ideological sway remains strong, as it serves powerful interests.

Greed Is Good

Hence, Friedman’s 1970 essay remains influential in the world, and has long served as the mainstream manifesto on corporate governance. Even then, Friedman denounced dissenting CEOs as “unwitting puppets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society”.

Generations of Friedmanites have insisted that ‘the only business of business is business’, and their sole responsibility to society is to make money. He emphasized, ‘‘there is one and only one social responsibility of business — to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.’’

When Friedman insisted “make as much money as possible while conforming to the basic rules of the society”, he may have presumed that market imperfections do not exist, or were fully addressed by the ‘minimal’ state, although it is well-known that the rule of law has never been adequate to the challenge.

His singular focus on maximizing profits for shareholders justified ignoring all problems due to corporate practices. The doctrine thus absolved the firm of social responsibility. It justified and encouraged generations of corporate leaders committed to the primacy of ‘shareholder value’. Almost like religion, this thinking became the hegemonic ideology, legitimizing ‘greed-is-good’ behaviour.

Government the Problem?

Friedman’s ideology spread throughout the world with the ‘neoliberal’ counter-revolution from the 1980s.

Unsurprisingly, neoliberal economists’ claims have been discredited by their policies’ failure to significantly increase investments in the real economy in recent decades.

And without sufficient investments to enhance productivity, growth has declined, if not stagnated, while dimming future economic prospects. With labour incomes declining relatively, if not absolutely, consumer spending has declined, reducing aggregate demand while feeding a vicious circle of stagnation.

Meanwhile, deregulatory initiatives have not increased real investments and output growth. Market finance ideology claims that the stock market can best allocate investment resources among companies. But share buybacks imply that US corporations have no better investment options than to further raise already high, over-valued financial asset prices, thus reducing resources for real investments and future growth.

The Friedman doctrine also celebrated and justified short-termism, and undermining protection for employees and the environment to maximize shareholder value by increasing corporate profits. This type of capitalism has spread throughout the world with the ‘neoliberal’ counter-revolution since the 1980s.

‘Getting government out of the way’, the neoliberal ‘free market’ mantra, was supposed to boost private investments. But more handsome corporate profits due to cost savings – from weaker anti-trust and other regulations, lower wages and taxes – have not significantly increased real investments in the US.

The 2007-2009 US financial crisis exposed some problems of short-termism, particularly related to financialization and ‘shareholder value extraction’. The crisis cast doubt on Friedman’s legacy and its implications, encouraging new challenges to corporate governance norms and regulations.

Business and politics

Friedman would have us believe that power and politics are not exercised in free markets. But this ostensible insulation of politics from supposedly power-free markets is a fiction which thoughtful Friedmanites knew only too well, not least from their own advocacy, behaviour and conduct.

All markets are shaped by various historical and contemporary influences, economic, cultural, social and political. These are often driven by business and other lobbies. Thus, politics, collective action and advocacy shape policies, in terms of design, implementation and enforcement.

To be fair, Friedman’s view of politics and business seems contradictory. His writings argue that business should stay out of politics, and not use shareholder money to influence politics. But he is remarkably understanding when it happens:

I can’t blame a businessman who goes to Washington and tries to get special privileges for his company.  If the rules of the game are that you go to Washington to get a special privilege, I can’t blame him for doing that. Blame the rest of us for being so foolish as to let him get away with it.

Neoliberal Inequality

Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich has argued that larger US corporations have acquired so much influence over government, undermining US democracy. Instead, he argues for public financing of electoral campaigns while curbing corporate influence, e.g., via lobbying and campaign spending.

He cites an old study of 1,779 policy issues during 1981-2002 which found lawmakers acceding to the demands of big businesses with the most lobbying capabilities while the average American had “only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically nonsignificant impact upon public policy”.

With the Citizens United ruling in the new century, the US Supreme Court has legally enabled powerful corporate interests to lobby politically. Unsurprisingly, corporate taxation has been dramatically reduced, while social protection and public investments, e.g., in health and education, have declined further.

Instead of gains being shared by top executives and shareholders with workers, as during the post-Second World War Golden Age, benefits have become increasingly skewed to the very wealthy in the past four decades, thanks to Friedman’s increased influence.

From 1948 to 1979, US worker productivity more than doubled while wages fell slightly behind as the stock market grew over six-fold. But from 1979 to 2018, worker productivity rose 70 per cent, as worker pay rose by only 11.6 per cent, while CEO compensation rose almost ten-fold and the stock market 22-fold!

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27 comments

  1. AnonyMouse

    A good 101 for what’s gone wrong – and a reminder of Keynes’ old chestnut that “the rules of economists and political philosophers, whether they are right or wrong, are more powerful than is commonly believed… indeed the world is run by little else.”

    As the article points out, we’ve dispensed with the monetarist prescriptions of Friedman (and MMT might finally jettison them entirely if adopted) but have we got any closer to dealing with “greed is good”, the purpose of corporations, the social licence they have to operate in a rapacious way, the view of politicians as supine servants to “the economy”, which is assumed to be synonymous with “GDP”, which is assumed to be synonymous with “good things for all” – rather than defenders of the interests of those who elect them? How utterly pervasive are these harmful ideas, imbued into the unspoken assumptions of everything, and how long could it take to undo the damage?

    Reply
  2. Upwithfiat

    Instead of gains being shared by top executives and shareholders with workers, as during the post-Second World War Golden Age, …

    Government privileges for private credit creation, i.e. for “the banks”:
    1) Allow workers’ jobs to be automated away with what is, in essence, the PUBLIC’S credit but for private gain.
    2) Reduce or eliminate the need for corporations to issue additional shares in equity.

    So to be pro-bank-privileges is to be anti-worker and indeed, anti-people too.

    Reply
  3. Susan the other

    Corporations do realize that rights and obligations go hand in hand. Great power is a term we use against them because they do not match their power with their obligations. They seem to be struggling with a way to meet their obligations to society without reducing their profitability. That’s a hard task when churning up consumerism to maximize their bottom line has been the only business plan for 50 years.

    Reply
      1. Greg

        I think it’s reasonable to assume that the humans who make up any corporation (despite its seeming autonomy) are a mixed bag. Some of the humans in any corporation are almost certainly concerned about social obligations.

        But that sort of thing doesnt survive an encounter with the bean counters, even with the board and execs best wishes (never more than wishes, wouldn’t jeopardise their own positions).

        So.. I guess that’s a struggle, of sorts? The struggle to continue the fiction of the corporate values that ensure employee compliance despite never quite being able to deliver on any except the financial.

        ETA: there will be exceptions where corporations can be very small, so small that they don’t need any non-financially productive employees in order to do business, and can survive with only the predators on deck. PE etc spring to mind.

        Reply
        1. HotFlash

          (raising hand here) I am a former bean counter. I, and my fellow bean-counters, at whatever rank, are *employees*. Simile: bean-counters (accountants) are simply navigators. It is the captain, or his financial backers, who decides where the ship is to go and what to do when it arrives. We bean-counters simply tell her/him where the ship is and what course to chart to get him/her where it is that he/she wants to go.

          In my case, I took the responsibility to make sure that my ‘captain’ was honest. I have worked for some wonderful people, and refused to work for some who I found awful. Or quit — sometimes it take a while to know.

          Reply
          1. Greg

            Yeah that’s a fair cop. Most of the beanies I’ve worked with are just as much at the grind as everyone else.

            And yet, there’s a cadre of financially minded twits in most every company that somehow drive every decision back to dollars. And they tend to have an attachment of loyal beanies to build their dashboards, KPI’s and metrics of doom.

            Reply
  4. responseTwo

    “With the Citizens United ruling in the new century, the US Supreme Court has legally enabled powerful corporate interests to lobby politically. Unsurprisingly, corporate taxation has been dramatically reduced, while social protection and public investments, e.g., in health and education, have declined further.” – and it will only get worse

    Reply
  5. Schein

    The author himself cites Friedman “I can’t blame him for doing that. Blame the rest of us for being so foolish as to let him get away with it.”, which sums it up for me. The problem is that corporations don´t stay within the rules of the game or change the rules in their favor with excessive lobbying power, especially in the USA. Profit maximization within the rules in Germany leaves the government with enough tax money to finance schools and infrastructure; and those taxes cover the core social responsibility of the company.
    Also, why the constant reference to imperfect markets as if they debunked Friedman’s theories?

    Reply
    1. Greg

      Agreed, the structure of the argument lost me a bit there. Finished up the intro with “he only mentions competition once and in passing”, then follow with a thorough debunking of arguments from competition. Odd!

      Maybe a paragraph that got cut which is more explicit about how Friedmanite theories have been developed and applied, and provides the connection.

      Reply
  6. Anonymous

    Equity is a residual economic claim… Yves

    Yes, but it’s apparently collective ownership too or else, for example, how does a leveraged buyout for the purpose of asset stripping work?

    Reply
    1. juno mas

      A leveraged buyout is performed by new owners to gain control and profit for themselves. They are not concerned with the corporate equity of others.

      Greed is good, no? /sarc

      Reply
      1. Upwithfiat

        Greed isn’t good but neither is enabling it by government privilege for banks and expecting that there won’t be an ethical race to the bottom.

        Reply
          1. Upwithfiat

            Corporations are not people, are chartered by government and should be regulated by government.

            That said, corporations (and any other organizations) should not be the means for one class of citizens to loot another class of citizens via government privilege.

            But that’s precisely what happens with the government-privileged banking cartel; the more so-called “credit worthy”, including and especially corporations, loot the less so-called “credit worthy”, including workers and the poor.

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  7. Watt4Bob

    Almost like religion, this thinking became the hegemonic ideology, legitimizing ‘greed-is-good’ behaviour.

    And like religion, there is the issue of orthodoxy.

    I made a mistake in a meeting the other day. I mentioned the fact that Covid might be worse in the coming quarter, which was met with a united, group-think sort of commentary;

    “It depends on the outcome of the election.” (with plenty of nodding heads, all around.)

    As if the whole pandemic would not be a problem but for the over wrought reaction, and subsequent political maneuvering of democrats.

    While I understand that political hay is being made on both sides, the bottom line is the pandemic is not ‘fake‘, and the impact on the economy will be what it is, no matter who is elected.

    It’s a virus that has its foot on our necks, not ‘liberal’ democrats.

    The consensus around our meeting table then, is evidence of a shared orthodoxy, not a considered opinion based on scientific fact.

    I’ve witnessed some of the highest managers in our organization pushing Ayn Rand’s BS, and have had to stifle any reaction because the slightest protest would have resulted in a permanent distrust/shunning.

    Reply
    1. Mikel

      What scares them more than the virus is the interruption of their rituals.
      C. Hugh Smith put it this way in an article yesterday. He can be very “doomsday”, but often hits the nail on the head with some his cultural deconstructions.

      https://www.oftwominds.com/blogsept20/rituals-meaningless9-20.html/
      “Rituals are satisfying because the performance of the ritual is itself the source of our satisfaction. Belief or enjoyment isn’t necessary; completion of the ritual is its own reward.

      But once we pull away from the rituals, the emptiness of the performance becomes clear and we start asking, what am I getting out of this for the expense and effort?”

      People away from their constant power maneuverings start to think about the nature of power and who they have given it to and WHY?

      Reply
  8. Sound of the Suburbs

    The classical economists had the advantage of being able to observe a world of small state, unregulated capitalism in the world around them.
    Today’s economists worked up from micro foundations.
    They got totally different answers.

    How different is classical economics?
    Ricardo was part of the new capitalist class and the old landowning class were a huge problem with their rents that had to be paid both directly and through wages.
    “The interest of the landlords is always opposed to the interest of every other class in the community” Ricardo 1815 / Classical Economist
    What does our man on free trade, Ricardo, mean?

    Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)
    Employees get their money from wages and the employers pay the cost of living through wages, reducing profit.
    Employees get less disposable income after the landlords rent has gone.
    Employers have to cover the landlord’s rents in wages reducing profit.
    Ricardo is just talking about housing costs, employees all rented in those days.
    Low housing costs work best for employers and employees.

    Adam Smith on Profit:
    “But the rate of profit does not, like rent and wages, rise with the prosperity and fall with the declension of the society. On the contrary, it is naturally low in rich and high in poor countries, and it is always highest in the countries which are going fastest to ruin.”
    Exactly the opposite of today’s thinking, what does he mean?
    When rates of profit are high, capitalism is cannibalising itself by:
    1) Not engaging in long term investment for the future
    2) Paying insufficient wages to maintain demand for its products and services
    Today’s problems with growth and demand.
    Amazon didn’t suck its profits out as dividends and look how big it’s grown (not so good on the wages).

    William White (BIS, OECD) talks about how economics really changed over one hundred years ago as classical economics was replaced by neoclassical economics.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6iXBQ33pBo&t=2485s
    He thinks we have been on the wrong path for one hundred years.
    Small state, unregulated capitalism was where it all started and it’s rather different to today’s expectations.

    Reply
    1. Greg

      That Smith comment is fascinating, haven’t encountered it before. It is in harmony with the theories of disaster capitalism, but it’s also an applicable measure between theoretically-functioning societies. Interesting!
      These chaps take it a step further (https://voxeu.org/article/corporate-profitability-and-global-persistence-corruption)

      In our analysis of corporate profitability, we find that corruption has a positive influence. This result holds whether we examine a firm’s return to total invested capital (ROA), or to the return on equity (ROE). These results are consistent with the Corporate Advantage Hypothesis. That is, corruption persists because of its ability to improve overall corporate profitability.

      Struggling to find a straight index of rough % profitability of corporations by country though. This is raw https://tradingeconomics.com/country-list/corporate-profits?continent=g20

      Reply
  9. Sound of the Suburbs

    The globalists found just the economics they were looking for.
    The USP of neoclassical economics – It concentrates wealth.
    Let’s use it for globalisation.

    Mariner Eccles, FED chair 1934 – 48, observed what the capital accumulation of neoclassical economics did to the US economy in the 1920s.
    “a giant suction pump had by 1929 to 1930 drawn into a few hands an increasing proportion of currently produced wealth. This served then as capital accumulations. But by taking purchasing power out of the hands of mass consumers, the savers denied themselves the kind of effective demand for their products which would justify reinvestment of the capital accumulation in new plants. In consequence as in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When the credit ran out, the game stopped”

    This is what it’s supposed to be like.
    That’s why the globalists chose neoclassical economics.

    Just wrap it in a new ideology, neoliberalism, and no one will notice its dodgy, old 1920’s neoclassical economics, which still has its old problems.
    Milton Freidman rehashed 1920s neoclassical economics, but didn’t fix any of its major problems.

    What is the fundamental flaw in the free market theory of neoclassical economics?
    The University of Chicago worked that out in the 1930s after last time.
    Banks can inflate asset prices with the money they create from bank loans.
    https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/quarterly-bulletin/2014/money-creation-in-the-modern-economy.pdf
    Henry Simons and Irving Fisher supported the Chicago Plan to take away the bankers ability to create money.
    “Simons envisioned banks that would have a choice of two types of holdings: long-term bonds and cash. Simultaneously, they would hold increased reserves, up to 100%. Simons saw this as beneficial in that its ultimate consequences would be the prevention of “bank-financed inflation of securities and real estate” through the leveraged creation of secondary forms of money.”
    https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Henry_Calvert_Simons

    The IMF re-visited the Chicago plan after 2008.
    https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2012/wp12202.pdf
    It looks like they did have some idea what the problem was.

    Reply
    1. Sound of the Suburbs

      Things are not quite what they seem.
      Corbyn’s (Sanders) Keynesian ideas did seem old.
      Keynesian economics was a solution to the problems of neoclassical economics that preceded it.

      Economics the timeline.
      Classical economics – observations and deductions from the world of small state, unregulated capitalism around them
      Neoclassical economics – Where did that come from?
      Keynesian economics – observations, deductions and fixes for the problems of neoclassical economics
      Neoclassical economics – Why is that back again?
      We thought small state, unregulated capitalism was something that it wasn’t as our ideas came from neoclassical economics, which has little connection with classical economics.
      On bringing it back again, we had lost everything that had been learned in the 1930s and 1940s, by which time it had already demonstrated its flaws.
      The Mont Pelerin society developed the parallel universe of neoliberalism from neoclassical economics.

      Keynesian economics was a solution to the problems of neoclassical economics that preceded it.
      They tried running an economy on debt in the 1920s.
      The 1920s roared with debt based consumption and speculation until it all tipped over into the debt deflation of the Great Depression. No one realised the problems that were building up in the economy as they used an economics that doesn’t look at private debt, neoclassical economics.

      Keynes looked at the problems of the debt based economy and came up with redistribution through taxation to keep the system running in a sustainable way and he dealt with the inherent inequality capitalism produced.

      The cost of living = housing costs + healthcare costs + student loan costs + food + other costs of living
      Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)

      Strong progressive taxation funded a low cost economy with subsidised housing, healthcare, education and other services to give more disposable income on lower wages.
      Employers and employees both win with a low cost of living.

      Keynesian ideas went wrong in the 1970s and everyone had forgotten the problems of neoclassical economics that he originally solved.

      Neoclassical economics – Why is that back again?
      Well there was a reason.
      After a few decades of Keynesian, demand side economics the economy had become supply side constrained.
      Too much demand and not enough supply causes inflation.

      Neoclassical, supply side economics should be just the ticket to get things moving again.
      It does, but it’s got the same old problems it’s always had.
      Milton Freidman rehashed 1920s economics and managed to pass it off as something new.
      He didn’t fix any of its major problems.

      Keynesian economics was a solution to the problems of neoclassical economics that preceded it, but it did have a few problems of its own, which wouldn’t become apparent until the 1970s.
      At this point you should move forwards, not backwards.

      Reply
      1. Gordon

        “Neoclassical economics – Why is that back again?”

        Because, as Frédéric Bastiat pointed out, “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”

        Hence the frequent treatment of neoclassical economics as having moral authority – quite unlike, say, physics.

        Reply
        1. Off The Street

          Systems are prone to manipulation, notwithstanding the fine verbiage and dressing up used to sell one approach while exploiting another.

          Case in point: A CEO that uses his position and tenure to push mightily for that Owners Come First policy. Behind the scenes, away from that supine board that awakens often enough to rubber stamp such policies, said CEO arranged compensation to include some strategic deferred provisions based on that jolt to income to coincide with the pending divorce. Shocking, I know. Who coulda knowed that such a person would wreak havoc on employees and a spouse.

          Happy ending: spouse forced reopening of the divorce decree to recapture, or claw back, if you prefer, some of those ill-concealed gains.

          Not so happy ending: CEO retirement led to reshuffling of lives for numerous remaining, or surviving employees, once the malign effects of that OCF policy became apparent on long term revenues, expenses, income, morale, customers and suppliers. Not sure if board learned or forgot anything.

          Reply
  10. Kirk Seidenbecker

    Friedman began his career shilling for the real estate lobby –

    https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/milton-friedman/

    ‘According to Congressional hearings on illegal lobbying activities ’46 was the year that Milton Friedman and his U Chicago cohort George Stigler arranged an under-the-table deal with a Washington lobbying executive to pump out covert propaganda for the national real estate lobby in exchange for a hefty payout, the terms of which were never meant to be released to the public.

    The arrangement between Friedman and Stigler with the Washington real estate lobbyist was finally revealed during the Buchanan Committee hearings on illegal lobbying activities in 1950.‘

    Juxtapose that with a quote from Friedman in 1978 –

    “In my opinion the least bad tax is the property tax on the unimproved value of land, the Henry George argument of many, many years ago.”

    Reply
  11. William Hunter Duncan

    ‘‘there is one and only one social responsibility of business — to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.’’

    “…which is to say, crush all competition and monopolize, by any means necessary including deception and fraud.”

    Just interpreting for the rabble what he really meant.

    Reply
  12. TomDority

    Maybe I am off the rails here but, it seems that economic thinking is around some idea that money and the market are seperate from (any type of government here) and operate independantly, or at most as a minor subset of the political make-up – maybe just a vector force that zigs and zags because of some unwanted interference by lawmakers or other forces – –just leave us and our money alone -we got this – we are trained to believe in invisable forces and magical free – markets and transmutation of physical assets into zero and one representations of money — as free markets defined today (the old definition was a free market was free from retiers and preditors).
    I look at free markets today as an idea of equal merit to someone thinking they should free a hungry lion from its cage in a zoo to roam freely among the school children on visit.
    My point, howerver round-about is:
    The monetary system of (any type of government here) has always been the organizing system of societies – the principle way to interact and develope cohesiveness and common purpose –
    So it follows then, that those with the money are the ones who controll the governace of the people – In a democracy – I would suppose – it is the people who elect individuals to create the laws and be governed by their own consent and have their will purposed to controll that monetary system – to harness it’s power for ‘we the people’ in the purpose of making the promises of life liberty and happiness a reality – and to have all people equall – etc etc bla bla bla.
    Today, as in many pasts of many places before…. the power has concentrated to the creditors and, suprise suprise, at the expense of shareholder value. If that shareholder is a human then the value has been degraded by an environmental disaster – both politicaly and physically.
    Goverments (any type of government here) have always used the purse and its most powerfull tool (taxation) to set the course and developement/preservation agenda for its citizens – good and bad!

    We now have the preditory, rentier, oligarchic, monopolists in the control of the purse and it’s taxation – it a Democracy in name now only (just look at what the majority wants on many issues and, if they are not sychronous with what the rentier class wants the majority does not get it – so guess where that headed.
    It is up to the governed to wrest back control of those who have perverted our Democracy – not to destroy our constitution – but to destroy those who have perverted it.

    All the droning on about petty political drivel – driven by a sensationalist press and computational power aimed at we the product – distracts from the major issues of the day

    Reply
  13. Steve Ruis

    Honestly, do we think that economists have any sway over business holders? Any at all? I don’t think so. Economics is mined to provide support for what they already want to do.

    Can anyone provide an example of a corporation which either hired economists or sought out economists to discover/identify what they were to do, rather than to just provide academic cover for what they already wanted to do?

    Reply

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