Wednesday, June 25, 2014


In the aftermath of Thad Cochran's victory over Chris McDaniel, Barbara O'Brien catches Erick Erickson whining:
[The Republican Party's] core activists hate its leadership more and more. But its leadership are dependent more and more on large check writers to keep their power. Those large check writers are further and further removed from the interests of both the base of the party and Main Street. So to keep power, the GOP focuses more and more on a smaller and smaller band of puppeteers to keep their marionettes upright. At some point there will be more people with knives out to cut the strings than there will be puppeteers with checkbooks. And at some point those people with knives become more intent on cutting the strings than taking the place of the marionettes.
Barbara responds:
Wow, you might assume Erick Son of Erick was a big supporter of campaign finance reform. I suspect you'd be wrong, though.
Heh, indeed. Erickson, of course, has been touchingly naive about the increasing plutocratization of our politics. Here's an amusing tweet:

The reality, of course, is that nothing the plutocrats have pursued (and attained) with regard to money and politics aids "the little guy." That was fine with Erickson when the plutocrats were funding his pet candidates. Now that they aren't -- now that they're withholding money from bomb-throwing teabaggers and giving it instead to GOP establishmentarians -- he's pouting.

What do teabaggers think is going to happen when superrich people and and megacapitalists have almost unlimited leeway in politics? Of course they're going to protect their own interests, even when doing so contradicts the Holy Gospel of Ayn Rand. Protecting their own interests is simply what superrich people and megacapitalists do.

The naive belief of the teabaggers is that you can have a completely unfettered plutocracy and also eliminate "crony capitalism." But what plutocrats do with all that money is buy policies favorable to themselves -- and they do it within the law as much as possible, most often by making sure that the law is written so that it empowers them to do what's in their naked selfinterest.

Right now, what's in their naked self-interest is keeping people like Chris McDaniel out of office. All the tricorn-hatted "people with knives" in America can't function as a counterweight to that much wealth used strategically.

Randian teabaggers think everything to do with money functions the way it does in the windy pronouncements of their favorite sci-fi novelist. They think every time you add more freedom!, things become more dynamic, and smart upstarts get empowered at the expense of the entrenched. I'm looking at the reality: over here, online-video category killer YouTube, a part of the death star known as Google, is cutting deals with the major music labels and threatening to keep independent labels off YouTube completely, thus depriving them of significant ad revenue. So the monopolistic subsidiary of a monopolistic company is playing favorites with the oligopolistic portions of the music business -- which now has three major companies, down from six when I was a lad, after those six bought up the independent labels that had helped make jazz, R&B, and rock into yultural phenomena.

Earth to Randians: this is how capitalism works. This is how money works. Things don't become sclerotic because of jackbooted government totalitarianism -- they become sclerotic because the powerful work hard to keep themselves powerful, at the expense of upstarts.

Same with Aereo, which just lost its battle to be a TV "disrupter" at the Supreme Court: the big cable and satellite companies have control over television across the country, paying retransmission fees to over-the-air broadcasters and then charging huge fees to subscribers; everyone wins except the subscribers -- and upstart Aereo, which wanted to retransmit those broadcasts without paying fees. The Supreme Court said no. The status quo stands.

The rich and powerful don't want what they've got to be easily disrupted; they want it to be extremely difficult to disrupt. And they get their way. That's the way big-money capitalism really works, no matter what Ayn Rand thought. And that, Eric Cantor notwithstanding, is the way big-money politics is working this year.


Gottlieb Laponte said...

Amen. Libertarians assume that government power is always bad and private power is always good. For most of them it's self-serving: they're the beneficiaries of private power who stand to lose something if the government interferes. I don't know what's going on with the others. And, of course, even the beneficiaries of private power (especially the biggest capitalists) have to be saved from themselves from time to time.

Victor said...

Ancient people, the non-scientific ones, thought that the sun sank into the ocean, every night, and then came out on the opposite side, in the morning.

Modern non-scientific people think that 'Citizens United just helped put the little guy in the position to be able to play with the big guy.'

How clue-free can you be, and still keep your job?

Rand Careaga said...

Nobody ever said that late-stage capitalism would be pretty.

Chris Andersen said...

The biggest lie the libertarians bought into is that private institutions are inherently different from public institutions. They are not. They both seek to protect their own interests. The only thing that keeps them in check is when none of them is allowed to grow so powerful that they effectively shut out every other institution.

So private institutions need public institutions to keep them in check and public institutions need private institutions to keep them in check. When you favor one over the other the system breaks down.

Same as it ever was.

Roger said...

If Ayn Rand thought Erick Erickson would be the product of her life's work, she'd take an icepick to her own head.