State of Mankind

A New Way Of Thinking

Eco-Fascism

Economic fascism is a system in which business and government essentially work together for the good(?) of the whole.  In its day (before WWII destroyed its credibility), it was seen as a happy medium between Laissez-faire and Socialism.  Business was at least somewhat private, but public controls and regulations could theoretically prevent major economic ups and downs.  For a full description see: http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Fascism.html.

Is fascism a thing of the past, or does it exist today?  The following is how Todd Myers sums up GE’s business practices in his book Eco-Fads:

“Indeed, GE’s ecomagination line has demonstrated so much promise, and profit that GE does not want to leave future growth to the whims of the market.  It has found a new partner to help ensure there will be a continuing market for their clean energy products–the federal government.

“…For some companies, it is cheaper to hire lobbyists than scientists.  GE understands this.  In the introductory letter to the 2008 GE Annual Report, Immelt wrote “The interaction between government and business will change forever.  In a reset economy, the government will be a regulator; and also an industry policy champion, a financier, and a key partner.”  Using government power to secure market share, funding and other preferences was now a central part of GE’s business strategy.  While they accelerated the strategy in 2009, the trend was not new.

“Recognizing that new energy regulations would increase demand for ecomagination products, GE has been agressive in recent years about lobbying in favor of tighter government restrictions that increase the price of energy….

“Lobbying government in support of costly energy regulation is only the start.  GE is an active participant in the U. S. Climate Action Partnership, whose stated purpose is to “call on the federal government to quickly enact strong national legislation to require significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.”  To understand the ultimate goal of the partnership, one need only recall the words of the great economist Adam Smith in 1776, when he wrote in The Wealth of Nations, “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”  Higher prices paid by consumers end up in the pockets of those who set the rules.

“Skewing the rules of the game is profitable.  With politicians who want to look green as willing partners, GE looks to make government “a key partner” in its business plan, “not because it’s trendy,” but because it is profitable.” (Pages 83-84)

Myers sums up the basic message:

“The push to go green can turn ugly, however, when companies attempt to use eco-fads to lobby for changes in public policy.  The turn to politics tends to shut down the dynamic process of market competition and innovation that can be good for the environment, in favor of government rules that mainly skew the market to the companies’ advantage.

“When it comes to businesses, eco-fads can be a mixed bag.  As with everything else, when it comes to green products and the green government policies promoted by businesses, our motto should be caveat emptor–let the buyer (and taxpayer) beware.”

About all I can add is a small research note.  Jeffery Immelt, CEO of GE, is also the Head of the Council on Jobs for the Obama Administration.

 

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  1. Dylan C

     /  April 5, 2012

    You fail to address the dangers of allowing oil companies to lobby against such regulations. You take for granted that the environment is not in danger, and I assume you don’t accept the consensus on global climate change. What tripe. I suppose you support lax legislation that would allow companies to pollute my (the taxpayer’s) air, water and ground free of charge? This is a double-edged sword. Capitalism unrestrained leads to a destroyed environment (China), a ruined economy (Russia), and horrible acts of inhumanity (see most of Africa for diamonds, gold, oil, rubber).

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