Dennis Hardin

Richism: The Self-Righteous Bigotry of the Wall Street Protestors

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A few commentators have noted that the Occupy Wall Street protest movement has a repugnant overtone of anti-Semitism. Radio host Dennis Prager, on his show this morning, asks why hatred of the rich per se is not demonized as bigotry in the same way as racism and anti-Semitism.

Prager notes that, thanks to Karl Marx and his communist philosophy, the number of people murdered in the name of class hatred in the last century far exceeds that of racism. We can point to the Soviet Union, Red China and Cambodia as obvious examples. And the systematic persecution of the rich continues today under tyrants such as Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.

But where, Prager asks, has this class hatred ever worked for the poor? And how are the rich responsible for anyone’s suffering? And why isn’t such hatred condemned as bigotry in exactly the same was as hatred of blacks, Jews, gays or any other group?

Historically, class warfare and hatred of the wealthy—blaming the Bourgeoisie or the upper classes-- has always served as an excuse for the government to increase authoritarian control over society. And today, of course, the open scapegoating of the rich is being used by Obama for that exact same purpose. Obama has given the protestors the sense that they can bring their hatred and resentment of the rich into public display.

Of course, as a religious conservative, Prager is oblivious to the harsh reality that his morality of altruism and self-sacrifice sanctions the bigotry of the protestors. According to the Good Book, the wealthy are obligated to sacrifice their assets for the sake of those less fortunate, and if they don’t, they are evil in the eyes of God.

It is fascinating to watch the conservatives scramble to defend capitalism against the Bible. I heard Glenn Beck acknowledging to a caller this morning that yes, Jesus wanted to make the wealthy give away their money. Of course, one convenient thing about the Bible is that you can always find something in it to defend just about any point of view—as long as you are willing to evade basic, underlying principles.

As the Occupy Wall Street protest spreads to more and more cities, the public continues to voice confusion over what they want or why they are there. The protestors themselves don’t articulate it very well—few people are articulate when they are high on dope--but they are self-righteous in their confusion. And they “feel” they are right because they have been raised on the ethics of altruism and collectivism.

There is one group of people who should not be the least bit confused about the meaning of the Occupy Wall Street protests—the readers and admirers of Ayn Rand.

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Dennis,

If you want to defend the wealthy, defend the equality of rights of all men. But all you're doing here is defending fascism/corporatism, and if the communist reaction to the fascism continues, the wealthy will be beyond your help.

Shayne

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I have mixed reactions to this topic.

Like Dennis I have noticed, not just with some OWS people but with culture in general, a significant level of prejudice about people with certain amounts of money (basically, assumptions are made about their character on the basis of their bank balance). These stereotypes indeed have at least some Marxist roots.

On the other hand, Shayne is correct; not all OWS people are saying "you're evil because you're rich." Quite a few are saying "you're evil because of how you got rich (i.e. raiding the public purse and benefitting from corporatism)."

Picking out the very worst examples of any movement and claiming this to be the "essential" characteristic of the movement is a bad habit which some Objectivists cultivate.

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The Blaze: Bizarre: Brzezinski Wants Rich to be Listed Publicly to Pressure Them

Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former National Security Advisor to President Carter and a frequent guest on his daughter Mika’s MSNBC program, made a series of strange statements during his segment on “Morning Joe” earlier today.

Talking with the MSNBC crew about the concentration of wealth in America as motivation for “Occupy Wall Street,” Dr. Brzezinski seems to believe that publishing the names of people who make a lot of money would be helpful in redistributing wealth…

Brzezinski wants anyone making a lot of money to be pointed out, but a short time later he says he does not want Wall Street “demonized.” Then, he returns to his demonizing of people who legally earn a lot of money and spend it in ways that apparently he would not. Pay close attention to his statements about “control.”

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"Party Line" Objectivists are useful idiots for this kind of thing. The storm clouds are gathering and yet they persist in their antics.

Shayne

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Quoting from my book:

Consider the following fascist tendencies in the United States:


  • Onerous tax codes heavily favor big business over small business, for it is very simple for a big business to hire a professional accountant, but a huge burden for a small business to do so.

  • Only big business can afford to pay for lobbyists in Washington. Therefore, the political tendency is to favor big business.

  • Only big business can afford to jump through all the legal hoops required in order to obtain investment capital from the general public.

  • Only big business can afford to devise and implement the complicated tax-shelter schemes the current legal environment encourages.

  • In spite of the propaganda about patents benefiting individual inventors, the facts demonstrate quite the opposite. Patents guarantee that big business can hold its monopoly position over small businesses. Indeed, even the allegation of infringement can cost a small business a million dollars to defend, something easy for the big business to handle, but impossible for the small business.

  • The Federal Reserve hands out money at low or no interest to big businesses, who then either use it to compete directly with small businesses who have no such access to cheap fiat money, or loan the money out at substantially marked up rates to the smaller businesses. Among many other victims of this process is the small farmer, who has systematically been driven out of business by the banking system.

  • There is a revolving door between many big businesses and big government positions. This biases laws and their application in favor of big business.

  • Government regulatory compliance is virtually impossible for small businesses in some fields. This leads not only to the stifling of small business, but the removal of life-saving products from the marketplace.

  • Government dominion over wild lands greatly favors rich and connected individuals when it comes to getting permission to extract natural resources.

  • The whole history of medical insurance is the history of individuals losing their ability to insure themselves in favor of big business's ability to shackle the individual to their job, all made possible by government regulations. This again favors the big business over the small one.

  • Only big businesses can be “too big to fail” and get bailed out of mistakes that would bury any small businessman.

So it's obviously a big racket. Big government likes big business. To borrow a phrase from Ayn Rand: it makes one neck ready for one leash. (Ironically, Ayn Rand's followers, the Objectivists, can be generally be relied on to come to the defense of big business while remaining almost totally silent on rights-violating actions of government that favor big business at the expense of small business. But this fascist shift is a reversion to a form of serfdom or slavery; it is a step backward for human society and is something that must be understood and fought and reversed.)

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I have mixed reactions to this topic.

Like Dennis I have noticed, not just with some OWS people but with culture in general, a significant level of prejudice about people with certain amounts of money (basically, assumptions are made about their character on the basis of their bank balance). These stereotypes indeed have at least some Marxist roots.

On the other hand, Shayne is correct; not all OWS people are saying "you're evil because you're rich." Quite a few are saying "you're evil because of how you got rich (i.e. raiding the public purse and benefitting from corporatism)."

Picking out the very worst examples of any movement and claiming this to be the "essential" characteristic of the movement is a bad habit which some Objectivists cultivate.

To me, a ~relevant~ bad habit, is the tendency of too many libertarians to crawl in bed, based on a non-essential common value, with those who want to destroy the basic values libertarians hold dear.

It's all well and good to hate the way ~some~ people became rich. But to make common cause with those who hate ~all~ rich people, regardless of how they became rich, is not going to accomplish anything of value, and in fact is aiding and abetting those who want to destroy what freedom we have left.

The enemy is not rich people. It is statism and it is those looters (government officials) who want to hand out privileges and taxpayer dollars to parasites, whether rich or poor. It's not fashionable to bad-mouth the non-rich moochers, but anyone who doesn't want to shoot himself and liberty in the foot needs to take on these people, too.

REB

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Dennis, If you want to defend the wealthy, defend the equality of rights of all men. But all you're doing here is defending fascism/corporatism, and if the communist reaction to the fascism continues, the wealthy will be beyond your help. Shayne

How on earth you drew this conclusion from Dennis' post is beyond me.

Given my longstanding interest in protests and nonviolent resistance, I have probably followed OWS as closely as anyone on this list. OWS is a mixed bag, obviously, and we do find some libertarian sentiments here and there, such as protests against the Fed and corporatism. But insofar as most of the protesters and their leaders have any coherent position at, it is anti-wealth and anti-capitalism, period.

The unholy relationship between government and big business -- something that all libertarians oppose -- should not cause us to go brain dead whenever some lefties protest against corporations. If OWS had occurred during a Republican administration, it would be focusing on the evil president. But opposition to Obama is not a focus of this protest -- far from it -- even though he is as much in bed with corporations as any Republican president has ever been. OWS is essentially (though not exclusively) a wing of the movement to re-elect Obama.

Ghs

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Somehow this OWS has "organically" spread to major USA cities from one minute to the next, and over the weekend to 82 countries in over 900 cities.

The smokescreen is a combination of inessential hot button issues (like being pissed at financial manipulators who get bailout money and bonuses in the tens of millions) and the sheeple who are out there on the streets who have no clue about what it is all about. They have been recruited under a myriad of false hot button pretenses.

The real deal is in the massive organization that is working. What "organic" part there is in this spread of protests is a result, not a cause. The cause is an evil intent, planning, resources and deployment.

Where is all that money coming from and how did this thing get so well organized?

These people organizing this stuff are hell-bent on destroying capitalism in all its forms.

Michael

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Quoting from my book: Consider the following fascist tendencies in the United States:
  • Onerous tax codes heavily favor big business over small business, for it is very simple for a big business to hire a professional accountant, but a huge burden for a small business to do so.
Don't agree. There are really good accountants that share themselves between many small businesses. My accountant is a hero to me. He has saved me buckets of money over the years. Sure, he's a friend now, so he kinda goes the extra mile maybe, but he is seriously good (originally recommended by a friend with a much larger business than mine) and he's worth every dime and is affordable to a small business.

  • Only big business can afford to pay for lobbyists in Washington. Therefore, the political tendency is to favor big business.
  • Can't argue with that.

  • Only big business can afford to jump through all the legal hoops required in order to obtain investment capital from the general public.
  • From the general public maybe, but two friends in the lending business (not brokers, lenders) and one in the Venture Capital business tells me that money is more expensive for the small guy, but still quite available.
  • Only big business can afford to devise and implement the complicated tax-shelter schemes the current legal environment encourages
  • Strongly disagree. A good tax accountant like mine spreads his expertise to many small businesses (and makes really good dough as a result).

  • In spite of the propaganda about patents benefiting individual inventors, the facts demonstrate quite the opposite. Patents guarantee that big business can hold its monopoly position over small businesses. Indeed, even the allegation of infringement can cost a small business a million dollars to defend, something easy for the big business to handle, but impossible for the small business.
  • Don't know enough about this to comment.
  • The Federal Reserve hands out money at low or no interest to big businesses, who then either use it to compete directly with small businesses who have no such access to cheap fiat money, or loan the money out at substantially marked up rates to the smaller businesses. Among many other victims of this process is the small farmer, who has systematically been driven out of business by the banking system.
  • Access to cheap money? Maybe not, but again, money is out there but yes, it's more expensive. Realistically, if I needed a couple million dollars to finance say a purchase and redevelopment of a commercial property, I could get it tomorrow. Yep, I'd have to pay 8% or so - usery compared to the prime rate perhaps, but if I'm looking at making 30%, I'll pay 8. I'd like to pay 2, but whining about the missing 6 isn't very productive.
    Farmers? Well, farmers in my country historically are heavily subsidized.

  • There is a revolving door between many big businesses and big government positions. This biases laws and their application in favor of big business.
  • True perhaps, but the public visibility of large corps can often make things more difficult.

  • Government regulatory compliance is virtually impossible for small businesses in some fields. This leads not only to the stifling of small business, but the removal of life-saving products from the marketplace.
  • However, small business can fly under the radar and do things, let's say, more in the "gray" areas without being noticed where big business cannot. By that I mean red-tape types of things, not totally agregious illegal violations. Many, many times the "Forgiveness is easier than permission" thing proves to be true. The smaller the better often works in these situations.

  • Government dominion over wild lands greatly favors rich and connected individuals when it comes to getting permission to extract natural resources.
  • Well, I have family member (sure, somewhat "financially gifted) who wasn't really "connected" in a big sense, yet is making an absolute fortune now in natural gas, but after many long years of fruitless exploration. Also, here in Canada, we have a rather large number of small, exploratory mining corporations.

  • The whole history of medical insurance is the history of individuals losing their ability to insure themselves in favor of big business's ability to shackle the individual to their job, all made possible by government regulations. This again favors the big business over the small one.
  • N/A
  • Only big businesses can be “too big to fail” and get bailed out of mistakes that would bury any small businessman.
  • So it's obviously a big racket. Big government likes big business. To borrow a phrase from Ayn Rand: it makes one neck ready for one leash. (Ironically, Ayn Rand's followers, the Objectivists, can be generally be relied on to come to the defense of big business while remaining almost totally silent on rights-violating actions of government that favor big business at the expense of small business. But this fascist shift is a reversion to a form of serfdom or slavery; it is a step backward for human society and is something that must be understood and fought and reversed.)

    Ok, agreed, but I think that GM at least has repaid it's debt. And I for one, will only ever buy Ford's now.

    Bob

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    How on earth you drew this conclusion from Dennis' post is beyond me.

    Yes, I've noticed that a number of things are beyond you.

    Given my longstanding interest in protests and nonviolent resistance, I have probably followed OWS as closely as anyone on this list. OWS is a mixed bag, obviously, and we do find some libertarian sentiments here and there, such as protests against the Fed and corporatism. But insofar as most of the protesters and their leaders have any coherent position at, it is anti-wealth and anti-capitalism, period.

    The unholy relationship between government and big business -- something that all libertarians oppose -- should not cause us to go brain dead whenever some lefties protest against corporations. If OWS had occurred during a Republican administration, it would be focusing on the evil president. But opposition to Obama is not a focus of this protest -- far from it -- even though he is as much in bed with corporations as any Republican president has ever been. OWS is essentially (though not exclusively) a wing of the movement to re-elect Obama.

    Ghs

    Objectivists have for years been biased in their attention toward communist elements in government while virtually ignoring fascist/corporatist elements. This lack of attention is an implicit endorsement of these fascist elements. A lack of attention in general stimulates communist sentiments in the public at large. They do not comprehend precisely what is going on nor what the solution is, they just see a bunch of masters and they are associated with big money, big banks, big business (who get bailouts when they fail so they stay in their positions of power). To blame the average person for drawing an obvious conclusion from the premises is more stupid than their mistaken conclusion. Your job is to teach them what's what and you're failing.

    Shayne

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    How on earth you drew this conclusion from Dennis' post is beyond me.
    Yes, I've noticed that a number of things are beyond you.
    Given my longstanding interest in protests and nonviolent resistance, I have probably followed OWS as closely as anyone on this list. OWS is a mixed bag, obviously, and we do find some libertarian sentiments here and there, such as protests against the Fed and corporatism. But insofar as most of the protesters and their leaders have any coherent position at, it is anti-wealth and anti-capitalism, period. The unholy relationship between government and big business -- something that all libertarians oppose -- should not cause us to go brain dead whenever some lefties protest against corporations. If OWS had occurred during a Republican administration, it would be focusing on the evil president. But opposition to Obama is not a focus of this protest -- far from it -- even though he is as much in bed with corporations as any Republican president has ever been. OWS is essentially (though not exclusively) a wing of the movement to re-elect Obama. Ghs
    Objectivists have for years been biased in their attention toward communist elements in government while virtually ignoring fascist/corporatist elements. This lack of attention is an implicit endorsement of these fascist elements. A lack of attention in general stimulates communist sentiments in the public at large. They do not comprehend precisely what is going on nor what the solution is, they just see a bunch of masters and they are associated with big money, big banks, big business (who get bailouts when they fail so they stay in their positions of power). To blame the average person for drawing an obvious conclusion from the premises is more stupid than their mistaken conclusion. Your job is to teach them what's what and you're failing. Shayne

    Thanks for telling me what my job should be. I would be lost without your guidance.

    I'm sure Dennis appreciates your ability to divine his implicit endorsement of "fascist elements." I know how much I like to be stereotyped, and I'm sure Dennis feels the same way.

    Ghs

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    Bob_Mac, it's unclear to me what your overall point was intended to be. You quibble over some details but your quibbling doesn't seem to add up to much.

    Shayne

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    Bob_Mac, it's unclear to me what your overall point was intended to be. You quibble over some details but your quibbling doesn't seem to add up to much.

    Shayne

    I think that many of your claims are significantly overstated, if not highly inaccurate. However, I am not American.

    I do not agree that there is Big Government/Big Business racket (at least here) anywhere near to the extent you describe. I know first hand that small business can often have advantages over big business wrt government compliance/red tape/barriers. I do not think there are systemic barriers to business growth in general other than some problematic industries. I can buy tax advice and services that I think are second to none, period.

    I know bankers (including a member of my immediate family with a senior position at the World Bank) as well as commercial bankers, lenders, and business men and women from all strata of the business world. In this country there is no systematic government/business unholy alliance that you describe.

    Bob

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    I'm sure Dennis appreciates your ability to divine his implicit endorsement of "fascist elements." I know how much I like to be stereotyped, and I'm sure Dennis feels the same way.

    Ghs

    It has nothing to do with your intentions. I know Dennis doesn't mean to endorse either (or at least hope he doesn't). But if countenance one kind of injustice while railing on a different kind, it sends a message. I don't know why this must be explained to you.

    Shayne

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    I think that many of your claims are significantly overstated, if not highly inaccurate.

    You had no opinion on a very severe problem: patents. Also, you admitted to facts that clearly lead to small businesses being killed to the benefit of big ones. You are arguing more from bias than from actual understanding.

    Shayne

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    I'm sure Dennis appreciates your ability to divine his implicit endorsement of "fascist elements." I know how much I like to be stereotyped, and I'm sure Dennis feels the same way. Ghs
    It has nothing to do with your intentions. I know Dennis doesn't mean to endorse either (or at least hope he doesn't). But if countenance one kind of injustice while railing on a different kind, it sends a message. I don't know why this must be explained to you. Shayne

    The only thing that needs to be explained to me is why your replies so often mispresent the post to which you are responding. Your posts frequently send the following implicit message to me: "I, Shayne, crave attention, and I will write almost anything, no matter how inaccurate or outrageous, to get it."

    Ghs

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    Bob_Mac, it's unclear to me what your overall point was intended to be. You quibble over some details but your quibbling doesn't seem to add up to much.

    Shayne

    I think that many of your claims are significantly overstated, if not highly inaccurate. However, I am not American.

    I do not agree that there is Big Government/Big Business racket (at least here) anywhere near to the extent you describe. I know first hand that small business can often have advantages over big business wrt government compliance/red tape/barriers. I do not think there are systemic barriers to business growth in general other than some problematic industries. I can buy tax advice and services that I think are second to none, period.

    I know bankers (including a member of my immediate family with a senior position at the World Bank) as well as commercial bankers, lenders, and business men and women from all strata of the business world. In this country there is no systematic government/business unholy alliance that you describe.

    Bob

    You don't even seem to know how much the FDA supports and protects the big drug companies.

    --Brant

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    The only thing that needs to be explained to me is why your replies so often mispresent the post to which you are responding.

    I didn't "mispresent" his post, it stood on its own. Anyone here can read what he said and know what he meant. I am simply pointing out a very closely related issue. I don't know why this needs to be pointed out to you.

    Your posts frequently send the following implicit message to me: "I, Shayne, crave attention, and I will write almost anything, no matter how inaccurate or outrageous, to get it."

    Ghs

    Your posts frequently send the following implicit message to me: "I, George, am intimidated by Shayne, and will ignore almost any good point he has, or fabricate any spin no matter how egregiously dishonest, in order to try to make him appear smaller than me."

    The only trouble with your apparent strategy George is that it only works on acolytes; an actual reasoning human being can see what I said and why I said it.

    Shayne

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    The only thing that needs to be explained to me is why your replies so often mispresent the post to which you are responding.
    I didn't "mispresent" his post, it stood on its own. Anyone here can read what he said and know what he meant. I am simply pointing out a very closely related issue. I don't know why this needs to be pointed out to you.
    Your posts frequently send the following implicit message to me: "I, Shayne, crave attention, and I will write almost anything, no matter how inaccurate or outrageous, to get it." Ghs
    Your posts frequently send the following implicit message to me: "I, George, am intimidated by Shayne, and will ignore almost any good point he has in order to try to make him appear smaller than me." The only trouble with your apparent strategy George is that it only works on acolytes; an actual reasoning human being can see what I said and why I said it. Shayne

    Divining implicit messages is a lot of fun, don't you think?

    Ghs

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    Bob_Mac, it's unclear to me what your overall point was intended to be. You quibble over some details but your quibbling doesn't seem to add up to much.

    Shayne

    I think that many of your claims are significantly overstated, if not highly inaccurate. However, I am not American.

    I do not agree that there is Big Government/Big Business racket (at least here) anywhere near to the extent you describe. I know first hand that small business can often have advantages over big business wrt government compliance/red tape/barriers. I do not think there are systemic barriers to business growth in general other than some problematic industries. I can buy tax advice and services that I think are second to none, period.

    I know bankers (including a member of my immediate family with a senior position at the World Bank) as well as commercial bankers, lenders, and business men and women from all strata of the business world. In this country there is no systematic government/business unholy alliance that you describe.

    Bob

    You don't even seem to know how much the FDA supports and protects the big drug companies.

    --Brant

    I did not disagree with his position on this, but please remember, there is no FDA here.

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    You don't even seem to know how much the FDA supports and protects the big drug companies.

    --Brant

    Yes, and combined with the patent system this is leading to a situation where people are dying, and will be:

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health/snakebites-about-to-get-more-deadly

    Every individual has the moral right to obtain the materials of the earth and convert them into any product they choose, including drugs, and sell them to any other human being, so long as he does not misrepresent the product. And yet consider what it would take if you were an individual who knew how to make a given drug and wanted to bring it to market.

    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/foremski/how-a-software-engineer-tried-to-save-his-sister-and-invented-a-breakthrough-medical-device/760

    "It took us two years to do the engineering. And it has taken the FDA seven years and two months to approve the product for sale."

    Much more of this kind of life-saving invention would be going on if not for the FDA and the patent system.

    Shayne

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    Divining implicit messages is a lot of fun, don't you think?

    Ghs

    I'd rather you just stuck to discussing ideas rather than carrying out this petty and unseemly agenda of yours. Why don't you grow up, give it a rest, get over it...

    Shayne

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    I think that many of your claims are significantly overstated, if not highly inaccurate.

    You had no opinion on a very severe problem: patents. Also, you admitted to facts that clearly lead to small businesses being killed to the benefit of big ones. You are arguing more from bias than from actual understanding.

    Shayne

    I also pointed out specific situations where you're flat out wrong. The "complicated tax-shelter" comment (for one) I think is not correct. I also think you overstate the lack of funds argument too. Money is always much more easily available to those who don't need it and much more difficult to obtain for those who need it most. Money is indeed costlier for the smaller guys but this is a free-market based rational effect. This is Business, no, more like Life 101.

    However, I do agree with some of the items, but I believe that because of the errors, your conclusion is overstated at best.

    You say bias vs understanding. Seems to me to be more experience vs naïveté.

    Bob

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    Bob_Mac, it's unclear to me what your overall point was intended to be. You quibble over some details but your quibbling doesn't seem to add up to much.

    Shayne

    I think that many of your claims are significantly overstated, if not highly inaccurate. However, I am not American.

    I do not agree that there is Big Government/Big Business racket (at least here) anywhere near to the extent you describe. I know first hand that small business can often have advantages over big business wrt government compliance/red tape/barriers. I do not think there are systemic barriers to business growth in general other than some problematic industries. I can buy tax advice and services that I think are second to none, period.

    I know bankers (including a member of my immediate family with a senior position at the World Bank) as well as commercial bankers, lenders, and business men and women from all strata of the business world. In this country there is no systematic government/business unholy alliance that you describe.

    Bob

    You don't even seem to know how much the FDA supports and protects the big drug companies.

    --Brant

    I did not disagree with his position on this, but please remember, there is no FDA here.

    Boy, are you naive.

    --Brant

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