The ‘cartelization’ of the political economy of the United States is undermining the nation’s public finances and its future prosperity.
It would seem obvious that for a republic to survive, those that exercise power over it must do so on behalf of the “General Welfare”. The loss of this central motivation, a motivation that cuts across ideological boundaries, would seem to be the single factor doing more than any other to undermine the soundness of US public finances and the future of the American economy.
In place of public servants devoted selflessly to the pursuit of the general welfare, we witness today a new type, undeclared lobbyists on behalf of a multitude of special interests, special interests which have morphed into cartels within their specific sectors:
The Teachers’ Cartel forces states, counties and townships to raise salaries unaffordably through collective bargaining.
The University Cartel receives hundreds of billions in federal funds annually, amounts growing above inflation, all with no democratic oversight or federal control, and uses its credentialing power to control access to the professions.
The Finance Cartel enslaves through mortgages, auto loans and credit cards.
The Insurance Cartel gets bills passed through Congress that fleece the public of affordable healthcare.
The Big Pharma and Medical Business Cartels ensure that you overpay massively for necessary medical care at your time of greatest need.
The Doctors’ Cartel make a racket out of public service, leading the needy to be bankrupted to pay medical professionals’ vastly inflated wages.
The Local Government Cartel demands licences for the most mundane activities and charges fines for innocuous ‘offenses’.
The Big Tech Cartel lobbies for obscenely large government grants in return for electoral favors.
The Military-Industrial Complex champions global empire and endless war.
The Union Cartel collects dues from lowpaid workers, while financing favored politicians.
The Alternative Investment Cartel seeks to ensure that everyone is renting, not owning their own home, and family farms are driven out of business to make way for corporate agriculture.
The Legal-Judicial Cartel earns colossal sums of money administering the endless sprawl of legal codes and agency rules, leveraging the law against all sides for its own financial benefit.
The Prison Industry Cartel profits from the US having the world’s highest incarceration rate, where millions of miscreants are put to work, most with little or no compensation.
The Social Welfare Cartel demands that over $2 trillion in ‘mandatory’ spending stay mandatory in return for the elderly’s block vote for Republicans, and the disadvantaged’s block vote for Democrats.
The Social Services Cartel robs families of their children in a vast money-making, life-destroying swindle, and runs down the remainder of private retirement savings in overpriced, uncaring ‘care homes’.
Cartels operate by using the law and the policing power of the state (i) to cause the public to pay more than they should for services, or (ii) to force the public to take services they do not need, do not want, or cannot afford.
Cartels easily cross the boundaries of left and right, public and private, making irrelevant much of popular economic debate.
Cartelization is antithetical to a free market and a free society. The more cartelized the sector, the less fair value there is to be had.
In a free market economy, regulation protects competition; in a cartel economy, regulation protects the cartels from competition. While a free market requires regulation, regulation should never be written for the benefit of special interests. In a cartel economy, the vast preponderance of legislation concerns the benefit of the cartels.
Once you recognize cartelish behavior, I have no doubt that you will no doubt be able to think of other examples. There may be perfectly obvious ones that I have omitted. There may be ones so obscure and insidious that their real danger is all the greater.
There is however one cartel without which no list would be complete: the Washington Cartel.
This is the capo di tutti capi, the apex cartel that protects the prerogatives and privileges of all other cartels, and provides the legal and financial framework for their operation. It is a cartel bigger than the presidency and Congress, covering all actors who wield influence and authority over legislative processes and the policing power of the state, malignantly, on behalf of special interests. Like a medieval pope exacting tribute from European princes, the Washington Cartel accepts unearned sinecures, honors, family favors and billions in campaign financing in return for ensuring that the law and treasury continue to protect and enrich the members of its subsidiary cartels.
It is prodigiously parasitic on the public purse.
Have you noted how incredible are the displays of bipartisanship and the neglect of congressional oversight when appropriation bills are signed!? Have you wondered what unity is discovered when a special interest comes to plead for special favors!?
Washington’s worship of wealth finds succor from an electorate preoccupied with other matters, or gaining short-term, contingent benefit from the cartelization of the economy.
Starting out on the journey of life, the youth of America today are faced with a stark choice: (i) join and become a beneficiary of one of the cartels, often at considerable initial cost, or (ii) keep their souls at the cost of institutionalized marginalization, financial hardship, destitution, oppression, and the threat of a debtor’s prison.
The cost of this cartelization will be borne by two groups: (i) the underpaid and those trying to earn a living from competitive, non-protected sectors of the economy; and, (ii) our children, who will be left to pay back the $23 trillion bill.
I am always amazed how anyone under 30 could be “anti-austerity”. The older generations are gifting a poisoned chalice of debt to the dwindling ranks of their youth, a debt that uncharitably, they will not be sticking around to see repaid.
“But look at all these shiny gadgets!”
“Am I not lucky to be alive and living at this time?”
“Is this not the greatest economy ever?”
Perhaps it is.
But it’s an Olympic athlete with a belly full of ringworm.
Unless some pills are taken fast, the parasites will consume their host.
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