Thursday, June 01, 2023

The Right Must Oppose Corporatism In All Forms

U.S. Senator J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) created a stir with some comments he made at Catholic University on Wednesday. Here are the comments, as posted by Reason Magazine:

One of the really bad hangovers from that uniparty that Patrick [Deneen] talked about is this idea that there is this extremely strong division between the public sector and the private sector. You know, the public sector is the necessary evil of government. We want to limit it as much as possible, because to the extent that we don’t limit it, it’s going to do a lot of terrible things. And then you have the private sector, that which comes from spontaneous order. It’s organic. It’s very Burkean. And we want to let people do as much free exchange within that realm as possible. And the reality of politics as I’ve seen it practiced, the way that lobbyists interact with bureaucrats interact with corporations, there is no meaningful distinction between the public and the private sector in the American regime. It is all fused together, it is all melded together, and it is all, in my view, very much aligned against the people who I represent in the state of Ohio.

I will give you a couple of examples here. One, when I talk to sort of more traditionalist economic conservatives, what Patrick would call economic liberals, when I talk to these guys about, for example, why has corporate America gone so woke, I see in their eyes this desperate desire to think that it’s all just coming from the [Securities and Exchange Commission]. That there are a couple of bad regulations at the SEC, and that in fact [BlackRock CEO] Larry Fink would love to not be a super woke driver of American enterprise, and that Budweiser has no desire to put out a series of advertisements that alienate half their customer base. They’re just being forced to do it by evil bureaucrats. And there is an element of truth to that. The element of truth is that the regime is the public and private sector. It’s the corporate CEOs, it’s the H.R. professionals at Budweiser, and they are working together, not against one another, in a way that destroys the American common good. That is the fact that we are dealing with.

J.D. Vance is partially right, there is way too much of an incestuous relationship between corporate America and the government. At its worst, it can be used to stifle competition and even infringe upon civil liberties as we have seen with the Twitter files.

But it is also false to claim there is no distinction between the public and private sectors. There is still plenty of independence between the state and the private sector, especially small businesses. In fact, it is in the private sector where conservative values have a place to thrive.

What the conservative economic agenda needs to be is the destruction of corporatism in all of its forms. It’s time to end the incestuous relationship between politically connected industries and the state. No more special sweetheart deals, subsidies, or regulations intended to destroy their competition.

We also need to be the champion of small business and real entrepreneurs. We do this by reducing regulations, not using them to promote some version of the “common good.” We need to oppose efforts by both the state and corporate America to crush them. Finally, we need to use antitrust laws to open up sectors of the economy which have already been captured by corporatists.

Building up a real free market economy allows us to build the parallel economy that reinforces our values. It also creates more economic dynamism to break the captured, stale economic that is our current corporatist state.