During an interview on Larry King, Ron Paul and Michael Moore agree that wealth imbalance in America is a major problem. Moore blames capitalism. Paul blames corporatism. Who is right? Well that depends on how you define the two.
Moore: Capitalism, as it is defined now, has not only failed – well, it hasn’t really failed the rich; it has actually helped them. The wealthiest 1% now have more financial wealth than the bottom 95% combined, so it (capitalism) is a really good system for a few people.
King: Ron, do you disagree with that statistic that Michael Moore just pointed out?
Paul: No, and I complain about it just as much as he does, but I think I understand it differently because when a country embarks on deficit financing and inflationism, you wipe out the middle class, and wealth is transferred from the middle class and poor to the rich. And when we get into trouble, the corporations once again, who are in control, they come for their bail-out, and they get the benefits, and the little people don’t.
Clearly, Paul and Moore see the same problem. In the interview, Paul explains that the reason the middle class is getting the shaft is because government regulation creates a source of power to be abused by the rich. This, Paul says, is “corporatism,” not “capitalism.”
Paul goes on to say that Moore’s documentary, “Capitalism,” puts a misnomer on the root of the problem. In other words, according to Paul, “corporatism” is the problem because the rich lobby the government and wind up perverting the free markets to the detriment of the middle class. According to Paul, Moore is wrong to believe additional regulations will fix the problems. Regulations are the devices used by the lobbyists for the rich to gain an unfair advantage over the middle class.
In fairness to Moore, his criticism of capitalism does indeed squarely point the finger at the rich, just like Paul does. Moore often suggests that various regulatory controls can reign in the rich to keep them from abusing the marketplace and harming the middle class. Paul’s only distinction appears to be in his suggestion that there can never be such a thing as a regulation that reigns in the rich. Paul notes that the rich, being in control of government, write and craft those regulations and then, send them to our representatives via their lobbyists, with the regulations in one hand and a nice, fat check in the other.
So, who is right? Is it Moore, who believes we can establish regulations to curb abuses by the rich? Or is it Paul, who believes the rich invariably control the regulatory process and use it as a tool to engage in abuse?
Either way, at least both Paul and Moore know who the culprits are. It’s the reigning them in that is the hard part.
Paul makes a good case for why government should be constrained. What he fails to do is offer a path as to how to constrain government. His points seem to imply that government is somehow a distinct entity from the rich – i.e., that government can be constrained without constraining the rich. However, this concept is a difficult one to reconcile with Paul’s own observations that the rich control the government. Therefore, it would seem obvious that there is no way to constrain government without constraining those who own and control it.
And so, the final question is, “Is there, or is there not, a real and valid class war to be fought?”
Jeff Matthews is an attorney living in Houston, Texas. His current projects include the website SovereignStates, and the forthcoming organization, The National Taxpayer Takeover.
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