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20 February 2014 @ 11:03 am
Redistribution by any other name  

In capitalist economies, when publicly-accountable social structures are excluded from participation in resource allocation decisions, the result is effectively a transfer of power over wealth distribution to privately-controlled structures. The resulting power structure is no less hierarchical than before, and potentially far less accountable to the populations affected by the rulers’ decisions. Taxes and profits are both forms of wealth redistribution; clownishly wealthy individuals colluding to maximize the share of resources they control is no less of an abuse of power than governmental actors rewriting rules to modify redistribution systems in favour of friends and lackeys. Both are decisions to allocate resources, ultimately made by individuals acting under a cloak of authority of one form or another, with effects that tend to be coercive toward individuals without the resources or influence to directly participate in those decisions. A group of cabinet ministers chooses to direct funding toward certain pet projects and away from already-underprovisioned frontline social work; a corporate board of directors encourages executives to reduce labour compensation and direct resources to more manipulative advertising; the people negatively affected by such decisions are left to adapt to circumstances beyond their control, often without support, and with sanctimonious prattle about sacrifice and change, from the very people who chose to make their lives more difficult.

The very concept of a clean line between public and private sectors dissolves when the movements and relationships of people within these allegedly separate spheres are carefully tracked. Corporate executives participate in numerous boards of directors consisting of people from the same economic and personal circles while working to insert some of them into public power; lawyers and executives run for office, manipulate decisions in favour of their friends, and join related private hierarchies after leaving office; senior political staff and public service managers jump from party to state to private employment, aided by friends and colleagues who’ve done the same for decades, making a mockery of rules intended to defuse conflicts of interest and malignant private influence. No one wants to end the party, resulting in a revolving door between the most powerful private and public entities in a given system. Neoliberal propaganda envisages a divide between a "free market" of private actors and exclusive property control, and a stifling, thieving government, as the people who most benefit from the results of widespread acceptance of such ideology cross that nonexistent line on a regular basis, changing public rules to benefit private power concentrations while pretending faceless others in the state they are part of are responsible for the very abuses from which they profit. They create self-fulfilling prophecies of ineffective public control, while private malfeasance and greed is justified as the results of "the market", a market managed by the same groups of friends and colleagues taking advantage of that revolving door.

All economies are planned; the differences lie in who is able to participate in that planning, and for what purpose. Corporations choosing to fire some employees in favour of undercompensating others halfway around the planet is no less of a wealth redistribution decision than a government redirecting spending from housing support or education to arms manufacturing and bank bailouts. Pretending that one set of decisions is the epitome of freedom and liberty while the other is inexcusably oppressive and unjustifiable is a sick joke upon the billions of people who aren't afforded any influence upon eiher set of choices that affect them. Organizational principles that promote concentration of resources and influence are the antithesis of liberation and social cohesion, but they serve the ends of sociopaths and power-seeking charlatans quite well.