Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The IRS Wasn't the Only Messy Political Development a Century Ago

While it crosses my mind (on this politically-accursed day), I owe Ron Radosh for alerting me to the work of the historian Martin J. Sklar (with whom I later corresponded a little), who has written about corporatism and Progressivism being almost the same thing, given the way big government arose in partnership with modern corporations a century ago, amidst much talk of reform, efficiency, and centralization (three things that seemed then to go together naturally).

And you almost don't wanna know how complex and counter-intuitive the business-regulations debates of that day were -- less about markets vs. government than about regulations favoring small businesses and farmers (by busting up large businesses) vs. regulations that inadvertently encouraged corporate bigness by being more lenient on a single large corporation than on multiple businesses that colluded with each other or were owned by the same person.

The daunting task of unraveling the resulting inefficient, corrupt knot -- without appearing merely to tug it rightward or leftward (and thus angering one or the other faction invested in the knot without seeing its true nature) -- is urgent these days but unlikely to be completed by pretending, for instance, that Romney and Obama are clear-cut polar opposites.  It all makes me tired.

(More tomorrow on various bits of traitorous political behavior and/or in-fighting, though.)

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