Comments and observations on social and political trends and events.

Monday, July 19, 2010

American Jeopardy: What is Fascism?

John Giffing has written an insightful analysis of the trend in America towards fascism: American Jeopardy: What is Fascism?

Here is the introductory paragraph.

Over the years, words lose meaning and often take on new forms that in no way represent their original usage. This can be observed in the now taboo word "fascism." Fascism is now most closely associated with the system of government that effected the slaughter of over 6 million Jews and other political prisoners. But at its core, fascism is really no more than a system where government, through agreements with the private sector, controls virtually all property and income indirectly.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Why Business Hates Obama

In browsing different blogs on both sides of the political spectrum, a common theme I've seen on the right is to accuse Obama of being a socialist or a communist. While there might be some merit to applying one of these labels to him I actually think he is more in favor of what some call crony capitalism. Or maybe a more appropriate term is fascism of some sort. According to Wikipedia, “Fascists seek to organize a nation according to corporatist perspectives, values, and systems, including the political system and the economy. ... Fascists believe that a nation is an organic community that requires strong leadership, singular collective identity, and the will and ability to commit violence and wage war in order to keep the nation strong. They claim that culture is created by the collective national society and its state, that cultural ideas are what give individuals identity, and thus they reject individualism.”

The last sentence in the Wikipedia entry captures what I think is a common denominator shared by socialism, communism, fascism and crony capitalism: an antipathy towards individuals. I think it also shouldn't be surprising that small businesses have been suffering under the Obama administration's attempts to "fix" the economy. Many small businesses represent the embodied dreams of entrepreneurs, of a man or woman who create a business on their own instead of working in the corporate world.

Joel Kotkin's article explains why small businesses, which normally lead the economy out of a recession, are staying hunkered down.

Obama’s big problems with business did not start, and are not deepest, among the corporate elite. Instead, the driver here has been what you might call a bottom-up opposition. The business move against Obama started not in the corporate suites, but among smaller businesses. In the media, this opposition has been linked to Tea Parties, led by people who in any case would have opposed any Democratic administration. But the phenomenon is much broader than that.

The one group that has fared badly in the last two years has been the private-sector middle class, particularly the roughly 25 million small firms spread across the country. Their discontent—not that of the loud-mouthed professional right or the spoiled sports on Wall Street—is what should be keeping Obama and the Democrats awake at night.

Small business should be leading us out of the recession. In the last two deep recessions during the early 1980s and the early 1990s, small firms, particularly the mom and pop shops, helped drive the recovery, adding jobs and starting companies. In contrast, this time the formation rate for new firms has been dropping for months—one reason why unemployment remains so high and new hiring remains insipid at best.


It’s not hard to see the reasons for pessimism. Entrepreneurs see bailed-out Wall Street firms and big banks recovering, while getting credit remains very difficult for the little guy. In addition, many small businesses are terrified of new mandates, in energy or health, which makes them reluctant to hire new people. Small banks—not considered “too big to fail”—fear that they will prove far less capable of meeting new regulatory guidelines than their leviathan competitors.


Among businesses of all sizes, there is now a pervasive sense that the administration does not understand basic economics. This is not to say they believe Obama’s a closet socialist, as some more unhinged conservatives claim. That would be an insult to socialism. Obama’s real problem is that he’s a product, basically, of the fantastical faculty lounge.

For the most part, university professors do not much value economic growth, since they consider themselves, like government workers, a protected class. Many, particularly in planning and environmental study departments, also embrace the views of the president’s academic science adviser, John Holdren, who suggests Western countries undergo “de-development,” which is the opposite of economic growth.