Tylor Slinger: Libertarianism 101: How to be a Proper Corporate Shill

Originally published on the Libertarian Party of Minnesota (LPMN) website on July 17, 2013: 

There are an excess of benefits to being a libertarian in 2013. First, there’s the whole minor party status thing. Then you consider the huge number of ladies that fill our ranks which makes Ladies Nights at any local bar look tame. But, if I was to pick just one thing that makes being a libertarian great, I’d have to say it’s the corporate sponsorships, the fat bonus checks, and court side seats that make fighting for liberty so great. Would be critics of libertarianism try and discredit the movement by claiming that we’ve been bought and paid for by corporations to create pseudo-economic arguments in their favor. If only they knew the half of it.CorporateRaptor

A quick look around my house and you’ll see all the Koch (pronounced Coke) money has not gone to waste. You’ll see a television purchased from the soul sucking demon spawn Walmart sub-corp, called Sam’s Club, furniture from what can only be described as an invading Swedish multi-national corp known as IKEA, and finally the multitude of Apple I-products that lay around as the companies’ profits fly offshore through the Double-Irish Dutch Sandwich. Corporate economics has never looked so good, and I wanted to share some tips with those of you that are neophytes to the movement. The double life of a Libertarian Corporate Shill can be treacherous.

Here are a few topics that you should NOT bring up when at the lavishly extravagant retreats that keep us so youthful and well fed.

Corporate Subsidies: It isn’t polite dinner conversation to bring up the fact that the U.S. farm subsidies don’t actually go to small family farmers as the proponents would have you believe. About 10% of our behemoth Agro companies line their coffers with over 70% of the total subsidies awarded. But this is nothing new and the agro-industrial complex is not nearly as old or well versed as the aged and politically adept military lobby (dubbed the War Machine). Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and General Dynamics are just a few of the names that have made the rounds for collecting massive payouts from the government for defunct projects.

Selling out had never been so lucrative. Two prime examples are when a former Air Force Procurement officer and a Boeing executive only spent a short time in prison for illicitly making a deal for a $23 billion air tanker contract. Or the case of Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA) who plead guilty to charges of bribery and tax evasion. But not before admitting to receiving money from defense contractors in return for using his seat to push business their way. This is without mentioning the flock of lobbyists who find work in the government and vice versa, each year and with each turn of the administration.

Limited Liability Privilege: Most of the younger bucks that you may meet weren’t taught the bases of the modern day corporate structure or its various incarnations. Nevertheless as a ladder climber you shouldn’t bring this topic up around the older gray hairs. Don’t talk about the moral hazard caused by limiting the potential damages associated with risky behavior, whether they are environmental/health damage or incorrect assessed financial risks. (Read as BP Oil Spill and the alleged needs for derivatives and mortgage backed securities) The profit margins of our benefactors may hurt for a year or two, but you’d be silly to think that the individual risk takers in management would have to personally compensate people for the damage they caused. Such is the nature of a the government sanction.

Regulatory Smack Downs: Another Taboo subject is the use of regulatory requirements to push out new/smaller competition from the market. Why did Wal-Mart back the passing of Obamacare, or Phillip Morris congratulate the administration in passing new laws restricting the sale of cigarettes? Doesn’t it hurt their bottom line? While it does raise their costly slightly, large corporations can more easily defray the costs over the number of employees/business lines. For example, hiring 10 or 20 new employees to deal with new regulation is not so tough when you have tens of thousands of them already employed.

In the same vein, the use of sales/licensing taxes often causes corporations to de-specialize its workforce and allows them to more easily deal with diseconomy of scale (the management tax for getting bigger). By raising the barriers to entry, corporations protect themselves from innovative, small budget, startups that would be nipping at their heels for a piece of the market. And in many cause entire sections of the economy have cartelized by a few key players.

These are just a couple guidelines to keep you on the straight and narrow when going to dinner or the country club with the corporate elite that allegedly funds the liberty movement. Now before you get all uppity and get yourself blacklisted by our most gracious benefactors, just remember that pooling capital for shared interest/projects is not the same thing as using the government to protect you from losses when you make boneheaded mistakes or by putting your competitors out of business.

Now if you haven’t gotten your Koch check for the month or want to talk to someone about getting a gig as a corporate shill, consider joining us.

Tylor Slinger

LPMN Member

Concerned about the expansion of government control and the erosion of individual liberty? Please consider joining and becoming active with the Libertarian Party of Minnesota. Libertarians support liberty on all issues, all the time! Libertarianism is a philosophical and political movement to promote personal freedom, strong civil liberties, a genuinely free marketplace, and peace.

10 thoughts on “Tylor Slinger: Libertarianism 101: How to be a Proper Corporate Shill

  1. Benjamin David Steele

    It was my blog post that is the first hyperlink in your article. I’m actually not anti-libertarian as one might suspect from reading my post. I have strong left-libertarian leanings and my father has strong right-libertarian leanings. Between the two of us, we have interesting discussions about libertarianism.

    I’ve never been an ideological purist or partisan loyalist. All I can say is that I like democracy, but I don’t know what democracy can mean or how it can work in this country. I increasingly have come to the conclusion, though, that small is beautiful and concentration of power leads to corruption. I see both big gov and big biz as problematic.

    I find myself taking an independent position simply because I don’t like the options being offered me. I’m not lacking in principles, though.

  2. Benjamin David Steele

    Nah, I didn’t leave it out. It just wasn’t part of that post. I tend to see big everything as potentially problematic. There are many big things that could be mentioned. Big labor or rather big unions. Big religion. Big money lobbying. Big military. Et cetera.

  3. Gene Berkman

    Mr Steele’s attack on Cato Institute does not reflect “left-libertarianism” as much as it reflects anti-capitalism and an extreme faith in the state.

    Cato Institute opposed the Iraq War, that was brought to us by “democratically elected government.” Cato opposes the War on Drugs, another government program supported by many democratically elected officials of both parties.

    “Corporatism” itself refers to active government intervention to support specific sectors of the economy or specific enterprises. Cato is supported by corporate donations, but in promoting free market policies it explicitly opposes “corporatism.”

    When I was arrested in 1975 by agents of a democratically elected government for refusing to cooperate with a military draft that was passed by a democratically elected Congress, Charles Koch sent a contribution to my defense fund.

    I really don’t see the attraction that government holds for people who claim to care about the human race.

  4. Benjamin David Steele

    First off, what happened to the dinosaur picture?

    Now, let me respond to Gene Berkman.

    I don’t have anything personal against the Koch family. I don’t think they are spawn of the Devil. I just don’t think big money is a good influence on a just and fair civil society, no matter its source, be it big union or big biz.

    As a general rule, I’m of the opinion that: Concentrated power corrupts. Money is power. Hence, concentrated money like all other concentrated power corrupts. However, there may be exceptions to the rule. If so, I’d love to see it demonstrated as something more than a rare exception.

    In the end, though, I see the big vs small debate as missing the fundamental issue. There are some relatively bigger govts and businesses that are less corrupt. On the other side, there are some relatively small govts and businesses that are more corrupt.

    The key point, to my mind, is democracy. And the key problemwith democracy is few people understand what democracy is while also supporting it. The elite, of course, have typically never liked democracy because it means freedom, rights and self-governance for and by the common people. The average and below average person has never had the opportunity to learn what democracy means and because of propaganda most of them don’t even know the state of their own ignorance.

    The reason for this in America is that on the state and federal level there is little if any actually functionig democracy. Occasionally voting for which elite gets to rule you isn’t democracy. That said, there is still some genuine democracy left at the local level. Some New England towns, for example, have a long history of town hall direct democracy where communities govern themselves.

    I have strong suspicions that the US govt is more or less a puppet govt at this point, a banana republic to be precise. This is where outward forms of democracy can be deceiving. Many govts around the world manipulate elections, the US included: gerrymandering, voter obstruction, political disenfranchisement, bribes, etc. You have to look at who controls the political process, either overtly or behind the scenes. Who chooses who becomes a candidate? Who controls the political debates and the media reporting? Who or what counts the votes?

    As it has been said, a vote-ocracy isn’t a democracy. For one thing there are more democratic processes than our present election system. More importantly, democracy first and foremost is about democratic values, what is called social democracy: freedom of speech, freedom of dissent, freedom to assemble, etc. Libertarianism is at its core in line with social democracy. I’d go sofar as to say it is founded upon it. Without social democracy, there can be no democratic processes or libertarian politics.

    As for corporatism, that goes back to the deceiving nature of appearances. Totalitarianism and inverted totalitarianism may look exactly alike from the outside. We rarely if ever get a glimpse behind the curtain to ee who is pulling the strings. Power oten protects itself by hiding, often where no one is looking for it or at least not where the mainstream media is looking.

  5. Benjamin David Steele

    Gene Berkman – I’ll respond as a separate comment to the issue of left-libertarianism.

    Libertarianism has had a long and diverse history. The principles and worldview behind it have been evolving for centuries. There are and have been for a long time both capitalist and anti-capitalist forms of liertarianism, plus forms of libertarianism that have been neutral, undecided or silent about capitalism.

    I should point out that I don’t identify as a left-libertarian. I don’t like ideological labels, especially when narrowly defined or dogmatically defended, as they never quite fit my view of things. I prefer to simply say that I have left-libertarian leanings, along with many other leanings: direct democracy, social democracy, municipal socialism, paleoconservatism, anarchism, minarchism, etc. Many -isms have pieces of the puzzle, but I don’t claim to have the ultimate answer in knowing how the pieces do or should fit together.

    As for left-libertarianism, I admit that I’m drawn to anti-capitalist varieties. My favorite is anarcho-syndicalism, of which Chomsky is an advocate. If you wonder what it means in the real world, check out the examples of the Basque Mondragon Corporation and the American East Wind Community, both of which operate numerous businesses which they do through collective action and democratic processes.

    Left-libertarianism has many sources.

    The above mentioned Basque governed their society as a republic in the past, although they now find themselves split by the national boundaries of Spain and France. Their republican example was an inspiration for early American republican thought, as at least one founding father had visited there and wrote about it. The Basque are a tight-knit clannish people (Celtic in origin; the Irish came from the Basque), and this is why they love both liberty and collective action (similar to why the Irish both fought so hard against English rule and in America were among the strongest defenders of labor unions).

    Modern libertarianism in general had its origins in the workers movement in Europe which was a mix of and sometimes alliance between minarchists, anarchists, socialists, Marxists, and probably a whole lot else. Left-libertarianism in the Anglo-American tradition has its origins in the english dissenters called th Levellers. Some Levellers immigrated to The American colonies, but the Leveller influence was most strongly introduced to American society by the Quakers. Also, I could mntion the English dissenters the Seekers as Roger Williams of Rhode Island was supposedly a Seeker.

    The main person to put his imprint on American left-libertarianism is Thomas Paine. Have you ever read his Paine’s Agrarian Justice? If not, you should. The other greatinfluence on American left-libertarianism is Henry David Thoreau. If you’ve read Thoreau, you’d kow that he also had some doubts about the capitalism he saw during his lifetime.

    As Paine said, “My religion is to do good.” In light of this discussion, my politics is to do good.

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