FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Corporate Welfare Bank of the United States

by

Over the past few weeks, the American business lobby and in particular the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have come out in force to support the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. These groups and their puppets in Washington insist that the Ex-Im Bank is good for American small businesses and supports job growth, that failing to reauthorize will harm the overall economy. Conscious of the political atmosphere, the Bank’s supporters have carefully avoided some ugly facts about this vehicle for corporatist cooperation.

The Ex-Im Bank epitomizes just the kind of unashamed corporate welfare that animates populist hostilities on both the American political right and left, the collusive cronyism that — whatever their rhetoric — establishment elites of both sides embrace with enthusiasm. The Democrat and Republican halves of the Washington political machine each have their own cynical uses for populist moods, but when the chips are down and the votes are cast American capitalism just is the active collaboration of powerful interests in big business and government. We have never had a free market in the United States, nothing even remotely close.

Agencies like the Ex-Im Bank redistribute wealth from ordinary taxpayers to the political chosen, mammoth corporations such as Boeing that couldn’t survive for a single day without constant, committed intervention from the American state. In 2010, nearly half of all Ex-Im Bank loans and loan guarantees went to that most favorite of aerospace giants, a year in which the company saw over $64 billion in revenue. So much for the oft-repeated propaganda about supporting small businesses. The Ex-Im Bank exists to ensure that the biggest companies, well-connected with lawmakers and regulators, never actually have to so much as think about competing in a hypothetical “free market system.”

Beyond Boeing, top clients of the cronyist Bank include General Electric, Caterpillar, and KBR, the notoriously corrupt former Halliburton subsidiary that has devoured hundreds of millions of dollars in government contracts. While it’s difficult to know exactly how much risk taxpayers are exposed to until, for example, a default actually occurs, the Congressional Budget Office recently poked holes in some of the Bank’s numbers. In a report this month (May 2014), the CBO said that under “fair-value” accounting — rather than the accounting method prescribed by the Federal Credit Reform Act — the Bank will cost taxpayers $2 billion over the next decade.

That’s just what we can see. We have no idea what free people making voluntary exchanges might do with those resources were they not tied up in the coercive, statist game of American capitalism. Advocates of individual rights and open competition, market anarchists distinguish between capitalism as it now exists, and has in fact always existed, and legitimate free markets.

Indeed, we use the term “freed markets” to signify that people have never yet been free from the tethers of state control within the economy. Real freed markets, without handouts to big business and incalculable other interventions, would distribute private property more widely and evenly, eroding the power and market share of the United States’ corporate titans.

The politically powerful devotedly serve the economically powerful — and the reverse is no less true. The Ex-Im Bank is just one of countless examples of big business courting the federal government, seeking and cultivating favorable public policy as a means of avoiding the discomfort of competition. In contrast, the kind of free competition that market anarchists favor is not at all antithetical to concerns about social and economic justice.

We see the goals of freedom and equality as mutually reinforcing. The imposition of the state against free people and their voluntary organizations is not protective but predatory, pitting people against each other in a fight to control the state. Agencies like the Ex-Im Bank are the illegitimate result of that ongoing fight. Perhaps it’s time to try this free market we keep hearing so much about.

David S. D’Amato is an attorney living and writing in Chicago. He holds a J.D. from New England School of Law and an LL.M. in Global Law and Technology from Suffolk University Law School. He maintains a website devoted to individualist anarchism at IndividualistAnarchist.com.

David D’Amato is an attorney, writer, and law professor.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 19, 2017
Melvin Goodman
America’s Russian Problem
Dave Lindorff
Right a Terrible Wrong: Why Obama Should Reverse Himself and Pardon Leonard Peltier
Laura Carlsen
Bringing Mexico to Its Knees Will Not “Make America Great Again”
John W. Whitehead
Nothing is Real: When Reality TV Programming Masquerades as Politics
Yoav Litvin
Time to Diss Obey: the Failure of Identity Politics and Protest
Mike Whitney
The Trump Speech That No One Heard 
Conn Hallinan
Is Europe Heading for a “Lexit”?
Stephen Cooper
Truth or Twitter? Why Donald Trump Is No John Steinbeck
Binoy Kampmark
Scoundrels of Patriotism: The Freeing of Chelsea Manning
Ramzy Baroud
The Balancing Act is Over: What Elor Azaria Taught Us about Israel
Josh Hoxie
Why Health Care Repeal is a Stealth Tax Break for Millionaires
Kim C. Domenico
It’s High Time for a Politics of Desire
Shamus Cooke
Inauguration Day and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
More and More Lousy
David Swanson
Samantha Power Can See Russia from Her Padded Cell
Kevin Carson
Right to Work and the Apartheid State
Malaika H. Kambon
Resisting the Lynching of Haitian Liberty!
January 18, 2017
Gary Leupp
The Extraordinary Array of Those Questioning Trump’s Legitimacy (and Their Various Reasons)
Charles Pierson
Drone Proliferation Ramps Up
Ajamu Baraka
Celebrating Dr. King with the Departure of Barack Obama
David Underhill
Trumpology With a Twist
Chris Floyd
Infinite Jest: Liberals Laughing All the Way to Hell
Stansfield Smith
Obama’s Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Ron Leighton
Trump is Not Hitler: How the Misuse of History Distorts the Present as Well as the Past
Ralph Nader
An Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump
Binoy Kampmark
NATO and Obsolescence: Donald Trump and the History of an Alliance
Zarefah Baroud
‘The Power to Create a New World’: Trump and the Environmental Challenge Ahead
Julian Vigo
Obama Must Pardon the Black Panthers in Prison or in Exile
Alfredo Lopez
The Whattsapp Scandal
Clancy Sigal
Russian Hacking and the Smell Test
Terry Simons
The Truth About Ethics and Condoms
January 17, 2017
John Pilger
The Issue is Not Trump, It is Us
John K. White
Is Equality Overrated, Too?
Michael J. Sainato
The DNC Hands the Democratic Party Over to David Brock and Billionaire Donors
John Davis
Landscapes of Shame: America’s National Parks
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Politicians and Rhetorical Tricks
Chris Busby
The Scientific Hero of Chernobyl: Alexey V. Yablokov, the Man Who Dared to Speak the Truth
David Macaray
Four Reasons Trump Will Quit
Chet Richards
The Vicissitudes of the Rural South
Clancy Sigal
“You Don’t Care About Jobs”: Why the Democrats Lost
Robert Dodge
Martin Luther King and U.S. Politics: Time for a U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Jack Sadat Lee
I Dream of Justice for All the Animal Kingdom
James McEnteer
Mourning Again in America
January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail