Saturday, November 14, 2009

Libertarians should oppose corporatism.

Why Corporations Are Not People, And The Unsavory Consequences of Pretending That They Are by Mike Hoy.

Points out that corporations consist of government-created special privilege, and that individualist libertarians ought to oppose such things.

The author uses scare quotes for derision: annoying stylistically, but otherwise harmless.

15 comments:

mikeyaustudent said...

"Points out that corporations consist of government-created special privilege, and that individualist libertarians ought to oppose such things."

Can you give me some examples of Austrians/libertarians who have ever advocated government created privileges for business owners?

GlenH said...

Simple, mikey, none! It's just that they seem to be quite happy to use existing government created privileges when it suits them. Much the same as Libertarians are quite happy to use the U.S government created Internet system when it suits them.

Mark Plus said...

Mike would probably argue that the business man's right to own property is in itself a government created privilege. Property rights require a social and political construction, backed by the state's power to coerce.

mikeyaustudent said...

"It's just that they seem to be quite happy to use existing government created privileges when it suits them. Much the same as Libertarians are quite happy to use the U.S government created Internet system when it suits them."

I also drive on government roads.
I drink safe drinking water from a government treatment plant.I went to a government school. And on and on.Where you are wrong is saying that libertarians are happy to use government created goods. They aren't.

Mark, you make the much better argument. Mises himself said this.
He was not a libertarian.

Dylboz said...

And actually, we do.

brando said...

God, I'm so tired of you idiots bitching about "corporations aren't people so they shouldn't get political rights." Well, you wanna fucking regulate them to the hilt! No taxation without regulation, right??

brando said...

Err, no taxation without representation, I meant to say

Mike Huben said...

Fine, Brando. Let's give corporations voting rights. And along comes some billionaire who creates a billion $1 corporations which all vote to tax you at 100%.

Corporations are legal FICTIONS created by government power. And you want to give them rights independent of their owners? Or do you want to give their owners more rights because they own the corporations?

Julien Couvreur said...

If you're going to accuse libertarians of hypocrisy, you would do well to back your assertions with facts or references.
If anything, libertarians are conflicted about relying on government services, which are unavoidable (roads for example).

Libertarianism rests on ownership by individuals.
It does not seek any special privileges for groups.

The only rights that any association gets is derived from the individual rights voluntarily delegated by the partipants.

Julien Couvreur said...

Apologies. The linked article does provide a citation (Hessen).

I don't know that guy, but it is certainly inconsistent to be libertarian and request special privileges for corporations (for example limited liability).

I'm glad that we agree on at least one government evil, as such protections have tremendous and harmful consequences.
Similarly, banks should not get special protections (FDIC, Fannie/Freddie, TARP).

Mike Huben said...

Julien, you just don't get it.

The point is NOT that corporations or special privileges are harmful. The point is that they are inconsistent with the foundational notions of libertarianism because they are anti-individual.

I think the same argument could also be applied to marriages. Libertarianism is pretty sad if it cannot support marriages because they are anti-individual.

brando said...

Where would the world be without large companies? Get real! Corporations MUST, to some extent, exist! Economies of scale are in general good. No, I don't wish to give voting rights to corporations, although in the grand scheme of things, I don't think it would matter in terms of votes. There are maybe a few hundred thousand corporations total, if even that, in this country? The electorate is something like 150 or 180 million strong. 100,000 won't much of a difference. Plus, you're assuming that all 100,000 would vote for the Republican, when corporations LOVE corporatism, a Democrat offering special privileges, like Obama's insurance mandate, is sure to get high ratings from a lot of corporations.

Should corporations NOT be allowed to defend themselves in court against possibly misleading or just downright false or maybe grudge-based suits? Should corporations be forced to take every burdensome regulation or tax increase thrown at them without recourse? Should corporations be reduced to pushovers simply because you have an incredibly inaccurate view of money and politics?

Mike Huben said...

Brando, I agree that corporations are useful and important. But you too miss the entire point which is that corporations consist of government-created special privilege, and that individualist libertarians ought to oppose such things.

And you don't even seem to understand the voting issue. I could easily create and entirely own many corporations (lots of people do: there are about five million US corporations.) Would you want me to have any more votes than you do because I own them?

jason h said...

Certainly libertarians oppose government created limited liability corporations. It is incompatible with libertarianism to legally create an entity separate from oneself. A business should not be legally separated from the individual(s) who operate(s) it. Libertarians do not oppose "anti-individualism", libertarians support voluntary association;a group of individuals can "incorporate" and delegate their rights say a CEO. Individuals wishing to enter into a voluntary partnership (marriage) and delegate certain rights and privileges to each other is quite libertarian.

Mike Huben said...

Jason, if "libertarians oppose government created limited liability corporations", they certainly don't emphasize it. And considering that libertarians government created limited liability corporations are THE central feature of our economy, it's surprising that they mention it so seldom.

For example, I glanced at "Libertarianism: A Primer" by David Boaz, VP of Cato. No mention of limited liability in the index. Nor is it mentioned in the index of Milton Friedman's "Free To Choose".

Please: show me where prominent libertarians take this issue seriously. Maybe you do, but that doesn't make you representative of libertarians. It merely brings you into agreement with the author that libertarians generally are inconsistent on this issue.