Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Greed in America

There's been a lot of discussion about greed and corruption in America, particularly as it relates to current economic turmoil.  The corporate world is a favorite scapegoat.  Are corporations the most destructive element of greed in our society?  Consider the following:
  • Corporations control millions, and in some cases, billions of dollars of wealth.
  • The U.S. Federal Government makes decisions involving hundreds of billions, sometimes trillions of dollars of wealth.
  • Corporations depend on voluntary transactions.
  • The Federal Government confiscates wealth by force.
  • Corporations are generally expected to provide some kind of product or service for the money they acquire.
  • Federal officials can do whatever they want with your money.
  • Corporations held accountable by their stockholders, customers, and in some cases by Congress. They must take these pressures into account on a continuous basis.  If a corporation fails to balance these competing pressures, it faces extinction.  Corruption is swiftly punished.
  • Federal officials are held accountable by their constituents, but voters are lazy and apathetic.  Elections come along periodically, but voter turnout is generally very low.  In contrast, special interest groups and lobbyists are motivated, organized and energetic.  Corruption is therefore practically guaranteed. 
  • When greed and corruption suck the life out of a corporation, thousands of lives may be adversely affected.
  • Greed and corruption in the Federal Government have the potential to drag the entire world into a global economic depression.
Looking for the most destructive element of greed and corruption in the world?  Look no further than the Federal Government of the United States of America.


Is the honeymoon already over?  Barney Frank (D-Mass) is angry with Obama for choosing Rick Warren to give the inauguration invocation.  He also says that Obama overestimates ability to charm people.  "...The current Republican leadership in the House repudiated George Bush. I don't know why Mr. Obama thinks he's going to have them better than George Bush."

Spain's Gordo Lottery Prize: $3 Billion

Israeli archaeologists find rare gold coins

Meet Mr. Greedy


robert verdi said...

who are people to judge others greed?

RightKlik said...

"Judge not lest ye be judged" Leftists are very selective in adhering to that principle.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Hi RightKlik, I just wanted to you you and your readers, and all the rest of my buddies A very Happy Chanukah, A very Merry Christmas and a very Happy and a healthy New Year to come for 2009

Pen of Jen said...

Excellent to compare the two...as the way the media distorts the BIG BAD corporations makes me sick. You put it together quiet effectively.

I am not too pleased when the two merge and become one-or get in bed together such as in a buyout...then I have some issues with the party packs.

Dan Trabue said...

I think this juxtaposition between perceived areas of trust (Gov't for the Left and corporations for the Right) is interesting, but flawed.

1. In my experience, the Left tends to not trust Gov't OR Corporations, and therefore we believe in the need for watchdog groups for both.

2. The Right DOES trust gov't. They trust gov't enough to have the world's and history's most expansive and expensive military. We have a military budget larger than the next 25 nations combined - that's approaching $1 trillion a year worth of guns, bombs and WMDs. That's a LOT of trust.

I'm curious: Do you think that the military as a gov't function is also, "the most destructive element of greed and corruption in the world"?

Also, you said:

Corporations depend on voluntary transactions.
The Federal Government confiscates wealth by force.

A clarification: We are a part of a social contract in which paying taxes is part of the deal of getting to live here and benefit from those tax dollars. The gov't most absolutely does NOT confiscate wealth by force, but rather by agreement.

The comparison to corporations is that IF you don't enter a deal with a business (ie, take one of their products), THEN a corporation does not confiscate your money by force. BUT if you were to take one of their products, you better believe that they will be forcing you to pay.

Same thing with the gov't. If you want to live in this great nation, you are expected to pay for the police depts, fire depts, roads, sidewalks, etc, etc. IF you don't wish the gov't to take your money, you are free to leave and not be part of this social contract. But there is no free lunch, right?

I'm sure we can all agree on that.

-suitepotato- said...

The government does not exact monies by agreement. If you disagree, you still pay. Refuse and you end up in jail. The so-called social contract is worthless if neither the people nor the government understand the true nature of it nor care.

When the people and the government lose sight of the nature of it, they lack any ability to judge where limits lie. If they do not know where the limits lie, they cannot tell if it is working right or if it is corrupt.

Simply put, government is whether we like it or not a protection racket. If you pay they will protect you from competing aggressors. If you don't pay, they will punish you. That is the social contract at its most basic. Put in that stark way, one is obviously from a self-preservation standpoint motivated to limit it, being cognizant of the danger of it.

It's not different with other social concepts. Peace and justice for instance exist nowhere in nature. They are antithetical to survival quite often. They involve putting oneself in a position of weakness and openness to predation. One has to choose to risk based on a willful choice to pursue those lofty concepts.

Weak men have neither the guile nor strength nor impressive nature to ward off opportunistic attack at the sign of their labor to create such things. The strong are always required to forestall such predation by competitors so that the weak can enjoy courts, police, peaceful walks in the park.

However, when men lose sight of such things, then strong men forget that they must be strong, weak men do feel invited to take their place, and sooner or later the wolf comes howling to the door.

Do you seriously think our nation has cognizance of this?

So far, people doing the right thing for the wrong reasons and mistaken motivations has worked. It never does for long.

The downfall of every society in human history has come when those two facts of the extreme yet utterly mundane nature of society are forgotten.

RightKlik said...


1. I don't have a problem with paying for essential government services, but MOST of our tax dollars end up paying for political favors and are used to buy votes.

2. "We are a part of a social contract in which paying taxes is part of the deal." I'd love to renegotiate the terms of my contract, but I'm outnumbered by people who are getting a better deal than I am. This is supposed to be a democratic republic, it's more like mob rule or majoritarian tyranny when the many are taking advantage of the few.

3. I have three options: leave the country or pay taxes or go to prison at the point of a gun. Taxes are collected by force.

4. The military is like your immune system. If it isn't strong you will die.

RightKlik said...

Robert, Debonair, Jen, Dan, SuitePotato...all of my other friends...have a great holiday season!

Dan Trabue said...

As long as you are free to leave and not take part in this great country, taxes are NOT taken by force. "Force" meaning you have no other choice.

If you want to go away and found your own country that collects no taxes (whether by force or not), you are FREE to do so. In this country, we have agreed to pay if we want to stay.

What country club, church or other civic group can you be part of without paying? I reckon in churches, you can take part without paying anything - BUT if everyone does that, the church collapses. It seems rather selfish to suppose that you could take part in some organization without contributing to its support.

Surely we don't disagree on this point? I'd suggest that the US is like a club with membership dues. You are FREE to not pay membership dues, but then, that means you are leaving the club. The club won't let you remain for free and leech off the rest of its members. Still, you remain free.

If words mean anything: it is NOT by force that you pay.

Dan Trabue said...

And, by the way, in a church or other organization that I want to take part in, there will ALWAYS be expenses that I don't approve of. Unless it's a club of one, there will always be disagreements over what ought to be spent and not.

"Should we have padding on our pews or individual chairs? Fold up chairs or lazyboys? Should we install a solar panel on the roof or continue to pay whatever the power company charges???"

Just because I don't approve of each decision (generally made by democratic vote or perhaps representative vote), does not mean that I am being coerced, AS LONG AS I'm free to leave.

RightKlik said...

If someone says "it's my way, the highway, or a gun to your head" that's FORCE!

RightKlik said...

...by the way, this "club" WILL reward you with a free membership and special benefits if you choose to be unproductive. Could we call it reverse-meritocracy?

...and your analogy doesn't really work for me. We don't automatically become members of country clubs, civic groups and churches when we take our first breath in this life.

Dan Trabue said...

It's not a perfect analogy, nothing is. But it's a much closer analogy than calling taxation "collected by force."

Again, if you take something from a corporate store, they WILL collect by force their money just as surely as the gov't does. To not pay your way is much closer to thievery than taxation.