Monday, June 15, 2015

Sanders Campaign Highlights the Need to Distinguish Between Economic and Political Power

When Bernie Sanders launched his demagogic campaign for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, he became an immediate darling of the Left. The New Jersey Star-Ledger called Sanders a welcome voice in the 2016 debate. The Star-Ledger gushed:

[T]he self-described ‘democratic socialist’ essentially has used his career to help those who cannot help themselves – the poor, the disenfranchised, the neglected, or anyone else from a voting bloc that cannot help him reach the White House.

I left these comments, somewhat edited and expanded:

Sanders is one of those phonies who uses his political power—the power of the gun—to force others, through taxes and regulations, to pay for his “help” to “the poor, the disenfranchised, the neglected.” (Real help is picking up a hammer for Habitat for Humanity, delivering a box of food to a food bank, or donating money to The Salvation Army.)

But the biggest fraud—and danger—is in the last phrase of that statement, “anyone else from a voting bloc that cannot help him reach the White House.” But we have one-man-one-vote. “blocs” don’t vote. Only individuals vote. A poor person’s vote counts the same as anyone else’s. So that statement can mean only one thing: It is a direct threat to those who would not help Sanders get elected by not voting for him, and to those who communicate the ideas held by the people that would not vote for him.

To back up his threat, the Star-Ledger observes, Sanders made the “billionaire class” the central focus of his campaign. As Paul Kane and Philip Rucker report for The Washington Post, Sanders singled out the Koch brothers for his attack. Why them? “Because,” Kane and Rucker note, “of their vast political spending.”

In other words, the Koch brothers are speaking out and convincing voters.

“[Sanders],” The Star-Ledger commends, “will denounce, ceaselessly, the concentration of trusts – banks, airlines, telecoms, et al.—that has elided the influence of the general electorate.” Sanders, the Star-Ledger notes, calls them “Oligarchs.”

To “elide” means to suppress or leave out of consideration. But politicians get in office only if the “general electorate” votes them in. That’s why politicians pay so much attention to their constituents, holding town hall meetings, obsessing over polling data, and scouring the letters and emails they receive from you and I. That’s why politicians run campaign ads that appeal directly to the public for votes. Politicians need lots of average voters, the very folks who are allegedly “elided” by “the concentration of trusts – banks, airlines, telecoms, et al.” If the Koch brothers have the power to “elide”—suppress—the general electorate, why, then, do they fund ads broadcast to the general public? To influence your vote. Why? Because David and Charles Koch can’t put politicians in office. They’re just 2 votes, and their votes don’t count any more than anyone else’s vote. As long as we have a democratically elected government based on one-man-one-vote, no one, no matter how rich, will ever be able to “elide the influence of the general electorate.” No one can stop you from voting, or force you to vote a certain way. All anyone can do is attempt to persuade.

This is simple fact. Sanders knows it. He’s no dope. So what’s really motivating Sanders demagoguery? As the Star-Ledger also observes, Sanders will “relate it to the populist preoccupations with wage stagnation and corporate power run amok.”

Statists always blur the distinction between private corporate (i.e., economic) power and political power.

Corporate power can’t hurt you. Corporate power is the power to produce goods and services that people value and willingly buy, and private citizens can choose not to be “victims” of corporate power by simply not buying their products or filling the job openings they provide. The real threat to any free society is political power, the opposite of corporate power—the power to physically coerce private citizens.

Political power is the power to make law, which people are forced, under threat of penalty, to obey. Private corporations and billionaires cannot make law. Only politicians can make law, because only the government can legally wield the power of physical coercion. A private citizen cannot escape political power as he can corporate power, because if he does he gets arrested by armed government agents, fined, and/or jailed. Try refusing to pay the taxes that Sanders would take to transfer over to “the poor, the disenfranchised, the neglected.” Try refusing to pay a wage below some arbitrary minimum legally mandated by law. Try violating an environmental or other of the hundreds of thousands of regulations imposed by shadowy bureaucrats. No private insurer can force you to buy health insurance. Only politicians can. The ObamaCare law, not private insurers, forces you to buy health insurance, under threat of a tax fine.

The government’s legal monopoly on physical coercion is the reason why we need a constitution to limit the function of government. We need to limit government in order to restrict the coercive power of politicians. It’s not ironic that Sanders would single out the Koch brothers. The Koch brothers advocate for reducing the size and power of the government, and they speak for millions of liberty-loving people who agree with the message—and who consequently will not vote for Sanders.

This is why Sanders is targeting the Kochs and the “billionaire class.” Sanders and his ilk fancy themselves the embodiment of the "little guy," the "forgotten," the "helpless," the "general electorate," in whose name they will control our lives and wealth. But the “billionaire class” stands is a thorn in their side. The Kochs’ smaller-government activism is effective, and strikes right at the heart of what a “democratic socialist,” or any statist, lusts for—ever-more power over the people. So the “Oligarchs”—the Orwellian Sanders calls them—must be neutralized, because they stand against today’s political power run amok.

Related Reading:

The Dollar and the Gun by Harry Binswanger

1 comment:

Mike Kevitt said...

Economic power is the ability to produce goods and services for sale in markets (not in 'the' market). Political power is a specie of economic power. It's the ability to protect production & sales as per individual rights, as well as everything else as per individual rights, by law & gvt.

There's one other power: the power to stop production and/or everything else, by physical force, which is automatically initiatory, thus, crime, even if under cover of the guise of law & gvt. That power is criminal power. It gets physical power only from economic (including political) power. After all, economic power is physical, as well as intellectual, power. Otherwise, who can give a flick.

Production comes before market distribution, AND before crime which is a specie of distribution. Economic power can only minimize, maximally, crime, at home and abroad, by means of law & gvt.