THE BLOG
06/14/2012 03:01 pm ET | Updated Aug 14, 2012

Citizens United Threatens to Invalidate a Century of Socioeconomic Stride and Strife

With the Citizen United ruling of January 21, 2010, the days of socioeconomic leadership by governments are numbered.

Economics, in actual practice, is only about a hundred years old. Laboratory experiments in economics are not feasible. They must be played out in real policy and with real consequences. There have been three great socioeconomic experiments in government policy that have unfolded over the last 100 years.

Preceding all three of these experiments was laissez faire. Laissez faire (literally translated from the French: let them act) was not deliberate. Nobody set out to create it as economic policy; it just happened as an inevitable expression of private enterprise and preexisted any organized thought on economics. It was just how things worked prior to anyone thinking about macroeconomics. Prior to economic disciplines, we were to just trust that the sum of all micro economies would yield a macro economy that works. How it came to be advocated as economic policy is it's own subject. Suffice to say it was organized as a economic principle after the fact of citizen revulsion at the predatory excesses of really big business with regard to labor pay, working conditions and the natural monopolistic goals of private enterprise (partnering with government when/if necessary).

In the first socioeconomic policy experiment of the 20th century, laissez faire or the practices that label had come to signify, was directly confronted and rejected by communism, a full-blown theoretical socioeconomic system. Outright socialism.

The second socioeconomic policy experiment was Mussolini's fascism, a compromise between communism and laissez faire that sought to subjugate both private industry and the people to the will of a leadership elite. Social dictatorship.

Third, and really temporally concurrent to fascism, was FDR's New Deal, which sought to reform industry to conform to the public interest through democratic consensus, arm twisting notwithstanding. Social democracy.

All three experiments in socioeconomics sought to bridle the private sector and relieve the public and governments from the strains of the wild boom and bust economic cycles that had plagued the industrial world since the Dutch tulip mania of the 17th century. Had the passions of the communists and fascists not run to nationalism, ethnocentrism and expansionism, they might still be in operation. As it is, only FDR's democratic socialist New Deal survives worldwide along with a minority view that laissez faire, total self-interested market chaos, would be better.

The New Deal appeared to have been the winning economic policy of debates/wars as of the ends of WWII and then the Cold War. Now laissez faire is back, even after its abject failure to work for anyone other than the rich and having started all the experimentation in the first place.

According to the school of laissez faire, government serves no role except to protect the private property of individuals. Presumably the only rationale for growing government would be to protect more and more private property. It is really a theory of government and not of economics, social doctrine rather than economic doctrine in emphasis. Economics, according to laissez faire, takes care of itself.

Had there been modern economic theory when the Constitution was drafted, care might have been taken to be more for or against laissez faire. It is a government social theory and that's all. As it was in 1779, laissez faire was just a matter of fact of enterprise that didn't much matter except as mentioned in the Commerce Clause. It didn't matter much because no one private enterprise was large enough then to materially affect the well being of every citizen in the country, not the way King George did anyway.

Individual liberty from monarchy and individual states rights were the premium concerns of the day, not how the individual liberty of a vastly rich corporation might impinge on the individual liberty or well being of everyone else.

At this point, we've experimented in social democracy for 80 years. New Deal socioeconomics emerged victorious over the two other experiments, only to be challenged all over again by laissez faire which started all the experimentation in finding something superior to it in the first place. The Citizens United ruling anoints laissez faire the winner by threatening the basis on which the New Deal proved itself viable and victorious -- democracy. Citizens United gives vast accumulations of wealth carte blanche to shape not only the economy of the U.S. and world, but the role of government as well.

Citizens United gives individuals and corporations with huge accumulations of wealth the power to sway voter opinion with all the existential power of modern mass communication. It's the bullying pulpit of the Big Lie with ministry of propaganda resources. Corporations and billionaires will use unlimited political contributions to rig the economic game for themselves through electing a government under the false flag of libertarian laissez faire. And whereas laissez faire might limp along from economic boom/bust to boom/bust, Citizens United will hand the insurmountable power of monopoly to the people who already have all the money.

If you believe in laissez faire, you must believe in having a government honest enough to insure that no advantage is being bought by political contributions. Otherwise, socioeconomic policy is not laissez faire and not even social democratic -- it's a criminal enterprise of wage price extortion. Citizens United is as bad for libertarian causes as it is for social democracy causes. Neither can work in a political system where government is sold to the highest bidder and the bids have become so extremely high.

Deliberately destroying the integrity of government, albeit there's not much integrity left to destroy as there has been plenty of money working on that goal for a long time already, is even contrary to the laissez faire concept of government that it should protect personal property. A corrupt government will not respect personal property nor even liberty.

If Citizens United is left to stand, the government on which it stands will soon perish, as it will no longer serve any but the most wealthy. It will then be most like the governing body which we threw off in 1776.

Citizens United has the potential to destabilize the entire world in short order beginning this fall. To stop that from happening, you'd better vote as hard as you can against those who support Citizens United, whether you're libertarian, independent-minded or liberal. Otherwise you'd better have enough money to buy a couple of senators and a dozen representatives in order to just keep your job.

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