02 May 2012

'They just don't like business very much'

In Virginia today, Mitt Romney said, “Democrats say they like a strong economy. They just don’t like business very much." He did not attempt to explain why this seemed to be so. It isn't necessarily clear what Romney himself means by "business," though the rest of the quote may help understanding. The candidate said: "you see the economy is made up of nothing but business and so we have to encourage entrepreneurs"

Economy = business = entrepreneurs seems to be the formula. If something seems missing to you, you may be a Democrat, or simply a liberal, and probably a progressive, or possibly a leftist. If something doesn't seem missing to you, you may be part of the reason the other people don't seem to like business very much. How do you feel about workers? Democrats, presumably, like a strong economy because working people make plenty of money. In theory, Republicans have no objection to workers making lots of money -- but it has to be earned the right way, as determined by business-men (i.e. entrepreneurs) on the understanding that the money made by business is earned by selling, not making. Any different idea is a heresy of entitlement or a raw scheme to extort the honest entrepreneur. Whether a Democrat likes or dislikes business or businesspeople comes down to the question of what workers are due. If a Democrat doesn't like business very much, it's probably because he or she presumes that business doesn't give labor its due, or is otherwise indifferent to its public responsibilities in its pursuit of profit. For those Republicans, like Romney, who like business very, very much, none of these purported public responsibilities can override the laws of economics and the rules of the marketplace; they can only be arbitrary demands for unearned benefits. If a Democrat argues -- but would one? -- that there are no sales without labor, a Republican probably answers that there are no jobs without entrepreneurship -- the idea of something that will sell. For Republicans, a strong economy is one in which the government gets out of the way of entrepreneurship. For the opposition, however identified, it's one in which the benefits are shared equitably according to principles independent of economics. The GOP counter-argument is that if you don't respect economics you'll be left with nothing to share, no matter how you want to slice it. The basic question is whether you allow politics or economics to define people's standard of living -- whether you let business decide what workers are worth or insist on a different standard. There's no guarantee that any political standard is sustainable, and there's even less guarantee that the standard determined by business alone is just. But if there's any element of democracy in our body politic or rule of law, we have to be willing to take our chances with standards set by politics; otherwise, we may as well let the entrepreneurs rule the rest of us serfs. My saying that may convince some readers that I don't like business very much -- but all it really means is that I reject the appeals to blind faith in business (or a business class to be more specific) that seem implicit in Republican rhetoric. If that makes businessfolk feel disliked, I'm sorry. It's nothing personal -- just a reminder that you are accountable to us, whether you and your philosophy like it or not.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Remarks like this simply prove how stupid right-wingers are. How many democrats run or own businesses? It's not that the left doesn't like "businesses", it's that we understand that human nature dictates that if the government doesn't restrict business, then eventually business will seek to replace government. As we all know, there is NO accountability of corporations towards consumers without government.

The truth is, repugnicans don't like anyone limiting the damage they are allowed to do in their insatiable quest to fulfill their greed.