This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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Investment theory and party politics

Political parties are sometimes envisioned as organizations constructed on the basis of popular opinion and which aid the people in making their will felt in a more effective manner. Actually, I’m not really sure who still envisions them in this way, but I can only assume that since they continue to exist, someone must. At any rate, in practice they are nothing more than machines which concentrate and organize investment dollars in such a way as to make sure that these investors receive a maximum return for their trouble. The best description of how this actually works is found in a book by Thomas Ferguson called Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems. He explains his theory as follows:

“[Political parties] are organizations composed of blocs of major investors who come together to advance favored candidates in order to control the state. They do this through direct cash contributions and by providing organizational support through the making available of sources of contacts, fundraisers and institutional legitimization. Candidates are invested in like stocks. For them electoral success is dependent on establishing the broadest base of elite support. Candidates who have best internalized investor values see their ‘portfolios’ grow exponentially at the expense of candidates who have not internalized these values. So what you have is a filtering system in which only the most indoctrinated and business friendly of the intellectual class advance to state power. The higher you go up the ladder the more you’ve appealed to elite interests. Representatives of the major investors are also often chosen to fill political appointments after a favored candidate has achieved office. This political-economic model helps explain why the state largely functions to serve elite business interests on the domestic and international stages.”

This should, in large part, explain the phenomenon of ‘revolving door’ politics, where government agencies tasked with the regulation of certain industries wind up being managed by former employees of the business they are tasked with regulating. For example, an FDA appointment may go to the ex-CEO of a major dairy collective, and this ex-CEO will then be the one responsible for enforcing the law against the company which he just left, and which no doubt funded his campaign and got him the appointment. Needless to say, this turns government agencies into nothing more than another branch of the industry. And this is why food legislation, if it hurts anyone in the industry, usually hurts the smallest members and helps the largest. For example, the laws requiring the pasteurization of milk, and deeming raw milk ‘inherently dangerous,’ despite its unpasteurized use since the beginning of time. Pasteurization equipment is a product of large-scale industry. It is necessary only in this context due to the unsanitary conditions of machine-production, and was invented by these industries as a result of their need. Thus, when it a law comes into force that says that this immensely expensive technology must be used by everyone, it only affects the small producers do not need pasteurization and cannot afford it. They cannot survive, and are bought out. The FDA turns out to be little more than a form of legal muscle for the benefit of big business. Yes, government agencies of this kind have legitimate purposes, and it wouldn’t be wise to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but this “regulatory capture” is a very real problem and ought not to be allowed to fly under the radar any longer.

In addition to what has been said above, Ferguson’s investment model explains other problems as well, such as why those issues which should be center stage in public debates are so often prevented from ever seeing the light of day:

“So what would we expect from a system like this? One thing we would expect is that on issues which the public cares about but on which there is cross-party investor agreement no party competition will take place. That means that the issues the public is most interested in will not appear on the agenda.”

When you own the theatre, and you pay the actors, you get to write the script. If you allow the audience to vote on the ending, they may thrill at the sense of involvement it brings them, but the climax will have already been arranged.

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