Managing businesses (badly): This is precisely what government — Big Government — does

My mother, who gets a lot of her news from the MSM, is nevertheless slowly becoming aware of the Solyndra scandal — not just the fact that a big solar panel company went bankrupt, but that it went bankrupt at great cost to her, because the Obama administration had bet the farm (or should I say, the taxpayer’s farm) on Solyndra.  “That’s not what government is supposed to do,” she said.

Au contraire, Mama,” I replied.  “This is precisely what Obama-style Leftist government is supposed to do.”

I went further than that.  The Obama approach to business is precisely like the Nazi approach to business.  And before anyone gets all hot and sweaty here, and despite Obama’s disgraceful attitude to Israel, I am not likening Obama to Hitler or trying to say that the Progressives are Nazis.  I am making, instead, a very specific point about American-style socialism, which is very different from Soviet, or North Korean, or Cuban style socialism.

When people think of socialism, they think in terms of government doing away with private industry entirely in favor of total nationalization.  That’s why, when you remind people that the fascists were socialists (i.e., Leftists), they’ll always deny it.  “That can’t be true.  Hitler didn’t take over private business.”

While it’s true that Hitler left ostensible corporate ownership in private hands, the practical reality was that the Nazis made the big decisions.  Baron von This and That and Herr So and So got to call the corporation their own, and got all the glamor that went with being rich industrialists, but the practical reality was that they looked to the Reichstag for direction and, because the Nazi Party conferred significant economic benefits on them, they supported it in word and deed.  One could say that German businesses, although nominally private, were in fact subsidiaries of the Nazi government.

That fascist approach, which sees businesses retain their status as “private,” even while being completely answerable to the government, is the Obama model.  He doesn’t want to nationalize companies, he just wants to direct them.  American businesses, in his mind, should be subsidiaries of the Obama White House.  That’s why Obama happily took over GM, and that’s why he and his Chicago cronies saw no problem with using taxpayer money to prop up an already failing solar company.

This same attitude permeates ObamaCare.  We conservatives sometimes forget that the hardcore Left hates the individual mandate as much as we on the conservative side do.  We hate it because it decreases individual freedom.  The Left hates it because the insurance companies will continue to thrive and, indeed, can profit mightily.  The Left cannot understand how their man in the White House could betray them that way.  They forget that Obama, although a socialist, is not a Communist.  He is an economic fascist, and merely wants to manage American business, which will keep a steady stream of money flowing from those same businesses right back to him.

In theory, it’s a lovely solution for both the government and the businesses.  In practice, as Solyndra shows, Obama is a disastrously bad business manager.  It’s also worth remembering, as the Germans learned to their great cost, that while power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.  It’s one thing for business to have a “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” relationship with government.  That’s the nature of power.  It’s another thing entirely when a government simply co-opts a nation’s business.

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  • David Foster

    I think you’re entirely correct that Obama’s policies are closer to economic fascism than to classical socialism. From the standpoint of a politician, economic fascism has the considerable advantage of making it easier to evade responsibility. If all the grocery stores, the farms, and the intermediaries are operated by the government, then when there are shortages the government will be blamed. But if you leave the industry nominally free–but tie its hands with irrational regulation, as has been done in vast areas of agriculture in California–then when there are food shortages you can blame “the corporations” or “the middlemen.”

    Also, classical socialists believed that economic growth was a good thing—today’s “progressive” Left, not so much. The timing on the transition coincides with the dreadful Malvina Reynolds song “Little Boxes,” which was released in 1963. 

  • Mike Devx

    It’s also worth remembering that this kind of economic fascism is an oligarchy – a few powerful men and women who make all the decisions that guide our economy.

    Classic conservative theory relies on Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand as it relates to the free market: Individuals all deciding on their own what is in their own best interests.  It is admittedly inefficient, and prone to occasional “wild exuberation” by the crowd that goes on a speculative frenzy.  But we tend to believe in the long run that it is the only system that actually works well.

    The others – the command economies, the oligarchies, the dictatorships – they fail because while one man or a few may make good decisions for a while, inevitably they begin making bad decisions.  When individuals make bad decisions, it harms only them (and their loved ones).  When oligarchies make bad decisions, the results are disastrous for everyone.  Solyndra and LightSquare are just two examples of a tsunami of bad Obama-oligarchy decisions.  For which we are all suffering.

    Who among our candidates is making the best appeal for the free market of individuals?  They’re all dancing around the edges, I think.  Rick Perry has a strong tagline that he is going to use throughout the primaries at least:

    “If you elect me president, I will work to make Washington as “inconsequential” to your lives as possible.”


  • gpc31

    We ought always give a nod to Jonah Goldberg on this subject.  His latest is quite good at

    Ties in quite nicely with the loss of self-reliance as an essential American virtue. 

  • DL Sly

    ” I am not likening Obama to Hitler or trying to say that the Progressives are Nazis.”

    Ok, YOU aren’t, but I do and will until the day I die….bitterly clinging to my Bible, my guns and my freedom.

  • suek

    >>The timing on the transition coincides with the dreadful Malvina Reynolds song “Little Boxes,” which was released in 1963. >>

    That’s an interesting song…it encompasses the contradiction that is socialism. It’s a song that ridicules the “little houses made of ticky-tacky…little houses just the same” – and yet that is the ultimate goal of “fairness” – everybody has the same thing. It also ridicules the idea that everybody in those little houses make of ticky-tacky had been to the University. That’s a bit more obtuse…it was popularized by Pete Seeger…a Union guy. So “we workers” aren’t going to be living in the “ticky-tacky” houses?

    I know that the song was originally inspired by the areas south of SF – and even today they’re rows of houses just alike up and down those hills and are pretty monotonous. But there’s still that scorn of the “all alike” thing that they seem to be demanding at the same time. It almost seems as if even then they despised the middle class – we should be either workers or aristocrats so we can have a good war…lets not allow a “middle” class – where people are content and won’t fight! “Which side are you on?” decision time… no middle ground.

    It has always puzzled me.

  • Mike Devx

    Boy oh boy, reading the comments yesterday and today, across these posts of Book’s… someone said a couple of months back that we Americans are in a “pre-Revolutionary mood”.  Not quite ready to take up arms, but getting closer… and closer…

    Or to put it another way, Americans may be beginning to tell each other: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m… PROBABLY… not going to take it any more!”

    Closer… and closer…