Featured Article: Definition of Freedom - What Freedom Means to Me
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by Scott Hughes
To start with a quote by Voltaire, "In general, the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other." For that reason, I find it interesting when anyone claims that the so-called private sector or 'business' is separate from the so-called public sector or 'government.' Mostly, I think it is a ploy that allows greedy people to use governmental force to profit.
Let me explain. We all know the businesspeople are greedy and mostly just want money. They are bottom-line thinkers and doers. However, freedom-loving people must respect the freedom of people to exercise their freedom simply for monetary profit. Thus, the endeavors of greedy businesspeople is protected through the ideological promotion of free markets and free society. Government, on the other hand, is claimed to be philanthropic, to be a representative of the general public, and to do what is in the interests of everyone as a whole. As a result, we give government powers that we do not give to non-governmental businesspeople. Unfortunately, government is a tool of business.
Let me try to re-explain it in other words. The businesspeople admit to acting out of greed, but they justify it by claiming that they are non-governmental, meaning they only exercise their freedom without infringing on other people's freedom. The government admits to infringing on other people's freedom, but they justify it by claiming that they are philanthropic and acting in the interest of the people as a whole and in the interest of the people whose freedom they violated.
So that clearly points out the dangerous power of corporatocracy. By pretending that business interests are separate from government, the ruling class is able to get away with both being greedy and infringing on people's freedom.
The solution is not to reject the free market (or, more generally speaking, free society). Instead, we have to realize and convince others that the tyranny is not coming from the masses in the form of populism. The tyranny is plutocracy which is in the form of corporatocracy marked by industrial-complexes; it's greedy businesspeople using government power to get profits.
I would tend to agree with those that say that any government will have and must have a relationship to business and must be involved in the market. But the problem is not non-governmental business, meaning some people choosing to exercise their freedom in a self-serving way. The problem is governmental business which we can call corporatocracy, meaning the use of government power for profit by greedy people, which will happen insofar as there is government in society. The solution is to limit the government's power, especially that power which is most used on behalf of the rich and corrupt. Namely, we need to reduce the amount of government spending.
I fully believe that the only way to eliminate government corruption is to eliminate government because I believe government is inherently corrupt. Moreover, the most effective and complete way to reduce the power of greedy, self-serving businesspeople is to reduce the power of government, a power which the businesspeople profitably use by promoting corruption. With a lack of government power, businesspeople will only be able to exercise their own freedom but not infringe upon the freedom of others.
Perhaps it's unfortunate that businesspeople are so self-serving and that all people are so self-serving. But the fact that they are self-serving is precisely the reason government power is so destructive and precisely why freedom, free markets and free society is more desirable than statism. Insofar as we allow one group of people to infringe on the freedom of others, they will do it in a self-serving way and self-serving business interests will quickly and easily corrupt any attempts at governmental populism. Attempts at governmental populism will become the very mask the plutocratic monster wears to trick us into tolerating his monstrous tyranny.
What do you think? How would you describe the relationship between government and business? Or what do you think is the business of government?
"The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master."
I believe spiritual freedom (a.k.a. self-discipline) manifests as bravery, confidence, grace, honesty, love, and inner peace.
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Being so, that it has no interest in moral issue, is precisely what, I believe, leads to it’s immoral actions. Or, more accurate, to it’s immoral consequences. Take, for example, a non-third world company operating in a third world country because the conditions there are met for profit. Not for human rights. As I said, precisely because it has no interest in an issue like human rights but profit, the reason is why it will look for profit and neglect the rights, human and working, ecological or similar, non-profit rights.
I agree with you, Scott, that business people “mostly just want money”, my emphasis. Not all of them are in it for the profit. Does it mean they are in it for some altruistic motive or some higher one (power) is, I think, a secondary issue here. Let me clarify.
Let’s say Madonna opens a business in India, in producing shoes. It’s cheaper for here – or let’s say profitable – to open the factory in India and not in Britain, and then ship it to India, not just because of transport costs, but also because the pays, the building permits etc. are not as high as are in Britain. She could pay the workers as much as she would in Britain, but then it wouldn’t be profitable as much. (Sorry if I’m trivial here, bear with me.)
Now let’s say she opened this factory to lower the cost of shoes so that more people could afford ones. But even in this altruistic scenario, she would have to find some way for this altruism to be profitable. Not to say it isn’t altruistic now, but that it would stop being altruistic if the altruistic factory closed with in a year. In other words, the more it profits, the more it brings shoes for needy, over a bigger period of time. But will she find a way to profit and be fair in her paying fees is the question here.
All of this is said because I don’t think we can label business people as greedy. They are as good in business as they profit, just like a meteorologists are as they predict weather (maybe not the best example, but you get the picture:). Let’s put it this way: you don’t go to the mechanic that cannot fix cars; but if you happened to do so, you don’t accuse him of being evil – rather, just an untrained one. So I would call successful business people well-trained (not to get misty in eyes, though ).
As for the governments, as I said, there are governments and there are governments. I was in opportunity to read on Scandinavian laws and regulations for people with disability. Unlike some states that usually set up a special ministry that deals (usually ineffectively) with these issues, theirs governments treat these issues under each of the ministry. The story behind it is that it’s not a question that one or group of people has a question that needs an answer, but that the community has. In other words, it is not theirs problem, it’s ours. In that sense a government can do good.
So, what am I saying? Maybe that, just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to raise a government. And it is a government’s job to secure the conditions for business and work.
So what about your statement that “government is a tool of business”? Is my almost misty “as good as they profit” really, in the end, yours, Scott, “plutocracy which is in the form of corporatocracy marked by industrial-complexes; it's greedy businesspeople using government power to get profits”? I think that it usually is, where it isn’t it’s slipping in to one, and the only thing we can do about it is set the question not as one of the third world but of our community.
Sorry for the long post, hope I was – if not helpful – at least not boring.
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To continue back to the subject at hand and stop pushing my philosophy paper, I believe the two are intermixed and should be. A balanced must be struck between a free market and a governed one. We must watch out for price gouging by utilities, but not keep good ideas from sprouting in the market. Its so sticky the area in between and so it will be quite difficult to separate the two when neccesary. People in power, both political and economical, are usually the same, and will make decisions to benifit themselves and kin. How can any person be completely objective when making decisions that will affect them as well?