crony capitalism

Smiley face fascism

Some call it "crony capitalism," some "public-private partnerships." How about we stop futzing around with the English language (something American collectivists have raised to the level of a fine art) and call it what it really is: fascism.

My, that sounds nasty, doesn't it?  That's because it is. It NEVER ends well.

The National Council for Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) has a website with lots of pretty photos on it, and they define a PPP as

a contractual agreement between a public agency (federal, state or local) and a private sector entity. Through this agreement, the skills and assets of each sector (public and private) are shared in delivering a service or facility for the use of the general public. In addition to the sharing of resources, each party shares in the risks and rewards potential in the delivery of the service and/or facility.

Sounds peachy, until you realize that it's

...the government still maintaining the final say over the delivering of the service.  Taxpayers now have the noose of being forced to guarantee an “acceptable rate of return over the term of the partnership” to the contracted company around their neck.

In fact, PPPs are "a way to mask ever-intrusive government."

There are lots of examples of PPPs ranging from the Federal Reserve System to Solyndra to...Common Core, the Jeb Bush and Bill Gates-led race to the bottom destined to further enslave America's children:

Common Core is the conclusion of many years of the expansion of nationwide controls over educational issues...The current Common Core standards are limited to English and Math, but will expand to include all subjects in coming years.
 
The beginnings of Common Core can be traced to the 2009 Stimulus bill which gave $4.35 billion to the federal Department of Education which then created the “Race to the Top” competition between states. In order to qualify for funding, the states needed to adopt Common Core sight unseen...
Why would states do anything so stupid? Well, this followed on the heels of the 2008 stock market crash when many states found themselves in dire budgetary straits. And you know what they say—never let a crisis go to waste.  Anyway, check out the entire Stop Common Core NY website.
 
Who stands to gain from Common Core? Microsoft, Apple, News Corp (Rupert Murdoch), Pearson Publishing, ETS (you know, SAT and ACT), companies like Affectiva Inc. that produce biometric sensor wristbands to be used on students (but it's all very benign), data companies such as InBloom, where all NYS student data (including name, address, Social Security number, attendance, test scores, homework completion, career goals, learning disabilities, hobbies, attitudes about school) for all students (including homeschoolers) has already been uploaded—with an eye toward "steering" the students toward certain career paths...what could possibly go wrong?  See the the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) 2013 Legislative Conference Workbook for a list of "partners." 


But in a sense, I digress. While Common Core may seem so huge that it's dificult for us here at Redneck Mansion to wrap our minds around, there are other examples of proposals for PPPs that are smaller in scope, close to home—and being proposed by our own congressman:

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, is looking to revitalize American manufacturing.
 
Reed, along with U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-MA, recently introduced to Congress the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2013. The legislation aims to create a network of regional institutes across the country, each focused on a unique technology, material or process relevant to advanced manufacturing. It would include local industry, academia and other stakeholders. The institutes would work to expand research and development, close the gap between R&D and commercialization of products, support small and mid-sized manufacturers and train a top-tier advanced manufacturing workforce...
 
The network would be funded by a one-time, $600 million investment in the National Institute of Standards and Technology...
 
"I care about building things here in America and selling it abroad," Reed said. "That will create long-term, good-quality, high-paying jobs. This act is right up the alley of accomplishing that goal. The purpose of the act is to create centers and institutes focused on bringing public-private partnership together...

What's wrong with this?  This:

...There is actually another, more accurate term for public-private partnerships.  It’s called fascism; plain and simple.  Private business may act as an administrator but the state still pulls the reins.  From a political perspective, public-private partnerships are quite ingenious.  Politicians remain in control while convincing voters they believe in the efficiency of a robust private sector.  And when issues arise over the performance of a service, whatever private firm was granted the monopolistic privilege of delivery can be treated like a scapegoat despite having to operate within government established guidelines.  The state escapes criticism as the public ignorantly clamors for more protection from those evil hearted businessmen.  To the ruling establishment, public-private partnerships are “heads I win, tails you lose.”
 
What the non-exploitive supporters of public-private partnerships tend to forget is that it isn’t just the administration of the service in supposedly private hands that adds to its betterment.  Why the market functions so well is that it is driven by competition from businesses that don’t rely on assistance from the band of thieves who occupy the offices of the state.  Government assistance gives some businesses an upper hand on competitors which can lead to diminishing innovation.  Why compete when Uncle Sam has your back to ensure a decent rate of profit?  Then there are government grants of monopoly which give the chosen company absolutely zero incentive to cut costs.  All of the advantages of private ownership become effectively nullified in public-private partnerships to the detriment of the taxpayer.
 
In our world of unceasing centralization of power, lawmakers are finding more deceptive ways to mask their lust for dominance.  Public-private partnerships are the embodiment of what Mussolini dubbed “corporatism;” that is the “merger of state and corporate power.”  Under corporatism, the ruling class is able to expand unbeknownst to the Boobus Americanus and its equivalent in other countries.  The Average Joe still has his wallet forcefully stripped of its contents but now the state’s cronies get to partake in the plunder.  Meanwhile the same big businessmen who benefit from government privilege still maintain their praise for free markets while working with politicians to forcefully subdue their competition...
Remember that, despite what lefty loons are always trying to tell us, PPPs fascism is not the product of some vast right-wing conspiracy of (supposedly) Republican congresscritters. Fascism is a collectivist economic theory. It believes that the state is the most important element of the economy, not the individual. That's why fascism is a leftist system—it elevates the good of the collective over the good of the individual.  If the individual, or individual private business, is not doing enough for the good of the collective, the state simply gives those individuals a little nudge.  It starts out with a smiley face, with "merely" public-private plunder of taxpayers. Then the nudge morphs into a shove, and then eventually, wah-lah, you've got full-blown statism.
 
It never ends well.
 
There are members of Congress who actually get this: Justin Amash and Tim Huelskamp in the House and Mike Lee and Ted Cruz in the Senate come to mind. Those that don't get it need to be dispatched at the first available opportunity, which for all House members is 2014.
 
Our congressman doesn't get it. As far as we can tell, he's a tool of the left...an unwitting tool, probably, but a tool nevertheless.
 
We in this district need a Republican primary in 2014.
 

Enviromanticism

Here at Redneck Mansion, we have several Pre-Raphaelite paintings hanging—well, they're not the actual paintings, just prints. We used to see the natural world much as painters like Rossetti did—perfect, unspoiled, immutable.
Then we grew up.


In the Ithaca Journal, Caroline (the navel of the universe when it comes to energy conservation) Town Supervisor Don Barber writes:

We are in a time when it is takes much more energy to extract fossil fuel (for example, tar sands and shale gas) than in the past, which means less net energy is being produced.

Wait a minute.  It's not a zero-sum game. If it were, the price of natural gas would have risen rather than fallen precipitously as it has. Increased fossil fuel use leads to 1) research into more efficient utilization as well as 2) creating more of an economic incentive for locating additional resources. This has the results of 1) lower per capita usage and 2) increased supply.

Emerging, manufacturing-based economies, such as China, are rapidly expanding their use of energy.

I'll buy that one—it's hard to argue with.

And we are past peak oil, consuming it faster than we are finding it. These result in fossil-fuel energy becoming more precious each year.

See "wait a minute," above.  Same thing applies. In The Guardian:

...As then (1979), we are led to believe that the world's fossil fuel resources are finite and known, and that the peak of production has either been already met or will come soon. Gas, it is assumed, will follow oil. Put simply, we are going to run out of fossil fuels, and they will therefore get (much) more expensive. For the peak oil advocates, the convenient truth is that de-carbonisation via renewables and nuclear is not only good for the climate, but sound economics too. Almost all of this is nonsense – and some of it is dangerous nonsense. There is enough oil and gas (and coal too) to fry the planet several times over. The problem is there may be too much fossil fuel, not too little, and that fossil fuel prices might be too low, not too high....

Barber's argument is entirely based on the zero-sum game fallacy, thusly (emphasis mine):
Then fossil fuels afforded us quantum leap advances in technology, life experiences and comfort. With the pending decline in availability of fossil fuel, will those socio-economic gains be lost?...
Sigh.
"Buying local" requires less energy to transport goods between purchaser and creator. Buying local supports both small businesses and the entrepreneurs that create local wealth, and it circulates money through the local economy several times...
We denizens of Redneck Mansion highly recommend buying local. 90% of all Americans live within fifteen miles of a Wal-Mart.
...We can insure vibrant local food sources for generations to come through buying produce and value added food products from farm stands, farmers markets, and Community Support Agriculture...
Know what?  CSAs?  Been there, done that.  No more. Why?  Because you're limited to those things that someone else has deemed economic to produce. We finally got tired of coming up with 365 ways to prepare very expensive bok choy. Wal-Mart now sells more food than any other store in the world—and at prices that regular people can afford.  Just sayin'.    
...Businesses can make energy management a top priority, harnessing nearly all energy they consume and finding ways to multiply energy such as geothermal, which creates 3.5 units of energy for every unit of energy producing it. Products and services from these businesses will cost less to produce...
Really? That's quite a claim in view of the fact that "alternative" sources of energy are definitely not cheap to install. But energy is definitely a cost of goods sold, a cost of doing business.
...We can embrace energy sources that are available everywhere and to everyone no matter of economic status. These decentralized energy sources can result in individual or local ownership and in time lower cost. They include, for example, solar (photovoltaic and heat); wind; biomass (direct to food, heat, or processing to another fuel source); geothermal; and gravity (hydro-power)...
It's true that the sun shines on everyone equally and while the photo above was taken before the arrays were installed on the roofs at Redneck Mansion during our primitive period, we do have solar panels. But can you say Solyndra? Name us one "alternative" energy company that is not engaging in crony capitaism—it's a system formerly known as fascism, and it has a bad reputation for a good reason. It never ends well.   
Passenger and freight trains and transport by water use fuel more efficiently than cars and trucks. Buses and carpools save fuel and create opportunities to converse with our neighbors, thereby building community. Bicycling puts us more in touch with our surroundings and benefits our bodies.
Systems that re-use vehicles like trains and buses can't be directly compared to vehicles that get parked at their destination. Anybody who's ever observed TCAT buses realizes that they sometimes run on schedules and routes with little patronage. Hmmm...unless, of course, patrons are left with no choice because cars and pick-'em-up trucks are no longer....well, never mind.
 
Comparing fuel efficiency across different modes of transportation usually involves comparing apples and oranges. Overall, system efficiencies likely won't be as advertised.  But by all means, let's get more "in touch," shall we?  
Some of these examples are back to the basics, adopting practices that made communities self-sustaining before the Industrial Revolution....

Some local businesses are apparently already going back to pre-Industrial Revolution days  wink

No one wants to be wasteful just as no one wants dirty air or dirty water. But a seemingly innocuous and well-intentioned, even romantic, attachment to the past can morph into something not nearly as pretty in the hands of people who see themselves as others' moral and intellectual superiors. That's not a road we want to be going down.

h/t's David & Tom

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