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.

More articles by:

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

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
July 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Kevin Zeese
Green Party Growing Pains; Our Own Crisis of Democracy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Red State, Blue State; Green State, Deep State
Paul Street
“Inclusive Capitalism,” Nancy Pelosi, and the Dying Planet
Anthony DiMaggio
Higher Education Fallacies: What’s Behind Rising Conservative Distrust of Learning?
Andrew Levine
Why Republicans Won’t Dump Trump Anytime Soon
Michael Colby
Ben & Jerry’s Has No Clothes
Bruce Dixon
White Liberal Guilt, Black Opportunism and the Green Party
Edward Hunt
Killing Civilians in Iraq and Syria
Matthew Kovac
Is the Flint Water Crisis a Crime Against Humanity?
Mark Harris
The Revolutionary Imagination: Rosa for Our Times
David Rosen
America’s Five Sex Panics
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia: the Kingdom Whose Name We Dare Not Speak At All
Jack Heyman
Class War on the Waterfront: Longshore Workers Under Attack
Kim C. Domenico
Marginalize This:  Turning the Tables on Neoliberal Triumphalism
Brian Cloughley
Trying to Negotiate With the United States
John Laforge
Activists Challenge US Nukes in Germany; Occupy Bunker Deep Inside Nuclear Weapons Base
Jonathan Latham
The Biotech Industry is Taking Over the Regulation of GMOs From the Inside
Russell Mokhiber
DC Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton Fox Won’t Let Whistleblower Lawyer Lynne Bernabei Go
Ramzy Baroud
The Story Behind the Jerusalem Attack: How Trump and Netanyahu Pushed Palestinians to A Corner
Farzana Versey
The Murder of Muslims
Kathy Kelly
At Every Door
David W. Pear
Venezuela Under Siege by U.S. Empire
Maria Paez Victor
Venezuelan Opposition Now Opposes the People
Uri Avnery
Soros’ Sorrows
Joseph Natoli
The Mythos Meme of Choice
Clark T. Scott
High Confidence and Low Methods
Missy Comley Beattie
Glioblastoma As Metaphor
Ann Garrison
Organizing Pennsylvania’s 197: Cheri Honkala on Frontline Communities
Ted Rall
What Happened When I Represented Myself as My Own Lawyer
Colin Todhunter
Codex Alimentarius and Monsanto’s Toxic Relations
Graham Peebles
Europe’s Shameful Refugee Policy
Louis Proyect
Reversals of Imperial Fortune: From the Comanche to Vietnam
Stephen Cooper
Gov. Kasich: “Amazing Grace” Starts With You! 
Jeffrey Wilson
Demolish! The Story of One Detroit Resident’s Home
REZA FIYOUZAT
Billionaire In Panic Over Dems’ Self-Destruct
David Penner
The Barbarism of Privatized Health Care
Yves Engler
Canada in Zambia
Ludwig Watzal
What Israel is Really All About
Randy Shields
Matters of National Insecurity
Vacy Vlanza
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness: Through Eyes of an Activist for Palestine
Cesar Chelala
Dr. Schweitzer’s Lost Message
Masturah Alatas
Becoming Italian
Martin Billheimer
Lessons Paid in Full
Charles R. Larson
Review: James Q. Whitman’s “Hitler’s American Model”
David Yearsley
The Brilliance of Velasquez
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail