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I Want a President for Americans that Follow the Rules, Go to Work, and Obey the Law Six Good Things About Capitalism

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Bernie and Hillary Both Wrong About Evil Bankers

by Christopher Chantrill
February 09, 2016 at 12:00 am


EVERYBODY HATES bankers and Wall Street, and so politicians hate them too. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has made much of Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street connections. “I don’t know any progressive who has a super PAC and takes $15 million from Wall Street,” Sanders has said. Hillary accuses Bernie of “innuendo.”

But they both want you to believe that “greedy bankers” rather than stupid government policy cause the Crash of 2008. So we need Dodd-Frank to keep the bankers tame and obedient.

My thinking on greedy bankers diverged from the conventional wisdom many years ago when I read an article about the most important government program. It is not the armed forces, or even the Social Security pensions. The most important program is the government’s program to sell its debt. To do that it needs bankers. Think of banker Jay Cooke, who sold the bonds that paid for the Civil War. Now you know why politicians and bankers get on so well, despite the politicians pretending that they hate bankers and bankers pretending that there’s nobody here but us chickens. They need each other.

So of course Hillary goes speechifying to Goldman Sachs; of course Ted Cruz married a Goldman Sachs banker; of course Chelsea Clinton married a Goldman Sachs alumnus. You could say that they are all in the same business. My son-in-law tells me that Goldman encourages its bankers so marry into politics.

Of course, the bankers are just middle-men. Behind the bankers are the merchants. The merchants have always run on credit, and they know a lot about it. But credit is not enough. Businesses need a stable and predictable economic environment, and they need protection from pirates and plunderers. The politicians need credit to finance their political machines and to protect their regimes from foreign invaders. It’s a marriage made in heaven, with the match-making bankers in the middle. It’s just like Oklahoma: the CEO and the politician should be friends.

But nobody, particularly the left, is satisfied with a bunch of guys taking care of business. They want to see a vast Cruzian conspiracy for world domination instead of this happy marriage. Writes young leftist Fredrik deBoer:

A functioning, healthy left political movement would recognize the fundamental illegitimacy of the nation-state. It would see that structure as the product of capitalism and imperialism. It would recognize the nation-state as recently invented for the express purpose of enabling war.

(Dontcha just love that lefty-speak?)

The problem with deBoer’s statement is that it is half true, but completely misses the point.

Yes, the nation-state was invented for enabling war -- but out of desperation, not cunning. A monarch like Henry VIII desperately needed to disarm his nobles, create a national army, and fund it from national taxes and credit from the London merchants because otherwise England would have become a province of France or Spain.

On this view, capitalism and imperialism were not a cause of the nation-state but a consequence of the successful condominium between the nation-state monarch and the credit of the merchants. Once the nation-state project got started, with the merchants funding the monarch and the monarch protecting the merchants’ trade, what’s not to like? How about a blue-water navy to protect the merchants’ argosies as they sailed the oceans of the world? How could the merchants not call for a bit of muscle when the going got tough in North America, in India, in Africa, or in China? Hey, if Melissa Click does it.

The only trouble is that power is power, and it needs to be limited because otherwise the powerholders will abuse their power and foul the nest. You expect a politician like Hillary Clinton to romance the bankers: she needs the money. You expect the Googles to twist arms for a bit of net-neutrality in exchange for helping the Obama campaign with their Big Data. But someone has to tell them when to stop.

The nation-state plus capitalism, plus imperialism, plus bankers, plus CEOs is the most powerful thing ever. Why, it has increased per-capita income by 3,000 percent in 200 years. But it still needs to be housetrained.

That’s why I hate all this talk about “greedy bankers” and wailing about the power of Goldman Sachs. Instead, let’s get to work rebalancing the credit system and keep the government’s influence to a dull roar. Let’s not just rail against crony capitalists, but just work every day to keep the rules of the market system fair and honest. Don’t rail against uncontrolled immigration, just keep it sensible and lawful.

It’s up to us, the voters. Politicians gotta fund their political machines. CEOs gotta pay-to-play. But we are called to limit the corrupt bargain between politicians and their cronies, in other words to limit government. And that’s just what Bernie and Hillary and the Millennial Kids for Socialism don’t understand.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.

Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050

Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust

What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican

Liberal Coercion

[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State

Moral Imperatives of Modern Culture

These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self

US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism

Society and State

For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008

Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006

Never Trust Experts

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.
Lord Salisbury, “Letter to Lord Lytton”

Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph

Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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