Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Barrier Between Capitalism and Democracy

Robert Reich, in a letter to the New York Review of Books, defends his new book, Supercapitalism, and posits his solution to the cacophony of business lobbyists that he says overwhelms the democratic process, and makes it impossible to hear "citizen values" in Washington.

He says the solution "...lies in erecting a more effective barrier between the economy and politics, between capitalism and democracy. That way, we as consumers can enjoy the benefits of the former, as informed by the citizen values we express in the latter.

The question left hanging in the air is who tore down the barriers between capitalism and democracy in the first place? In some cases, it was businessmen who successfully used the government to crush their competition and loot their customers. In other cases, it was ambitious politicians who used government to indiscriminately loot the wealthy. Either way, the barrier between capitalism and democracy never had a long as democracy possessed the power to make one group rich and another group poor.

Perhaps the best way to keep business out of government and government out of business is to limit the power of government, period. A healthy concern about the size of government may be the most important "citizen value" of all.

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