Civil Discourse Now

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Andrew Bales: GOP candidate in 5th should fear capitalism, not "Socialism"

Andrew Bales is one of my opponents in the May 5 primary for United States House of Representatives in Indiana’s 5th Congressional District. To his credit, Mr. Bales is more specific on more issues than other GOP candidates.
Mr. Bales, on most of those issues and in reasons for his decision to run, are ill-founded and in conflict with long-held principles of conservatism and reality - reality goes out the window when Mr. Bales says he agrees with the current occupant of the Oval Office on everything but the growing national debt.
On his website, under “Nation and our Constitution is under assault by the Left! Join me to Protect our Freedoms!” Mr Bales says he decided to run for public office because he “is tired of the direction our country is headed.”
That direction: “I see that we are moving closer each day towards Socialism, and this keeps me awake at night. I cherish the freedoms our Constitution guarantees us as United States citizens, and I will fight to protect those freedoms!”
“Socialism” neither appeared as first word of a sentence nor was used as a formal name - nor is it something, contrary to what one may reasonably infer Mr Bales believes, a belief - not defined (from what I see) on Mr Bales’s website - of which we should be frightened. .
“Socialism” is not a term easily defined. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy explains socialism “is a rich tradition of political thought and practice, the history of which contains a vast number of views and theories, often differing in many of their conceptual, empirical, and normative commitments.”
The entry goes on to note that in a 1924 “Dictionary of Socialism, there were “canvassed no fewer than forty definitions of socialism...” The entry notes it would “present the main features of socialism, both as a critique of capitalism, and as a proposal for its replacement.”
“Socialism is best defined in contrast with capitalism ... and as a proposal for overcoming and replacing it.”
Great graffiti I read in 1975 in Las Vegas, New Mexico: “Capitalism is the system of man exploiting man/socialism is the other way around.” To understand how the two systems function perhaps helps better than a specific definition.
Capitalism is like a one-loss basketball tournament - like the NCAA “big dance” - except businesses, not basketball teams, compete. If a business cannot compete effectively - i.e., operate at a profit - as other similar businesses, it folds or is bought out - i.e., eliminated.
And usually the business entities in the Capitalism Tournament are corporations. Corporations are entities that shield individual shareholders from liability from corporate conduct. The Boston Tea Party dumped tea owned by a corporation into Boston Harbor.
Businesses, over time, do not confine themselves to a single industry. Amazon, for example, started as an on-line book dealer. Now Amazon sells many things in many lines of products and services.
Businesses do not always “win” by playing “clean.” Standard Oil, in the late 1800s, priced things so low as to put competitors out of business - then jacked rates way over their previous levels.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, fewer and fewer hands owned and controlled greater amounts of things and industries. Ultimately, the Clayton and the Sherman Antitrust acts were enacted.
That is one problem with capitalism. Once a corporation, or handful of corporations, has succeeded and “won” the tournament, there is no re-set for a new tournament.
People cannot simply start a business to compete with the “winner” of the tournament: 1) Lots of money is required to build a business - e.g., buying oil fields to beat Standard Oil or creating an internet entity to compete with Amazon.
2) If someone tries and begins to succeed, usually litigation occurs. Large corporate entities laid out big sums to win that tournament and want to keep that trophy - or, more accurately, ALL the trophies.
Theodore Roosevelt - a Republican President who was a progressive - fought against the “few” hoarding all the wealth. When capitalism plays out, it results in monopoly - one in the hands of a few.
People are better off if they - through the government - own and run large systems, versus that handful of people who won the Capitalism Tournament. Corporations - ultimately - are pieces of paper. In the USA their stock can be purchased by anyone.
By “anyone” I mean any person or corporation with enough money. What we think of as “American” corporations are corporations organized under the laws of one of the States - Delaware has a lof of those because its laws, in the 1950s, were written to attract corporations.
Once those shares go “public,” anyone, including foreign individuals, corporations or governments, can buy those shares.
People, such as Mr Bales, who are scared of “Socialism” apparently have neglected to study U.S. history of around 1900 and how corporations had little kids working 12-hour days in factories.
There is little recourse against a large corporation for its actions. Think of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April, 2010. BP paid a big fine.
Few Americans remember the 1984 Bhopal, India, gas leak from a Union Carbide plant that killed 2,259 people immediately and, eventually some estimate, over 20,000. In the years following, kids whose parents lived near the plant were born with birth defects.
The CEO of Union Carbide’s operation in India skipped his bail of $2,000 and fled to his home here in the U.S.
Corporations have no brains. There is a fiduciary duty owed by corporate managers to shareholders to obtain profits. If a corporation cuts corners - as Indian authorities said was the case in Bhopal - more profit accrues.
Mr Bales should study history, particularly how corporations have not been friends to anyone but shareholders.
I am a candidate in the May 5 primary for Indiana’s 5th Congressional District. I’m running in the GOP primary. Unlike Mr Bales, I advocate principles of the Grand Old Party - “GOP” - of Theodore Roosevelt.

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