Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Very interesting excerpt from James Galbraith’s new book, “The Predator State”, over at Corrente. Does it ring any bells?

In the corporate Republic that presides over the Predator State, nothing is done for the common good. Indeed, the men in charge do not recognize that public purposes exist. For this reason, the concept of competence has no relevance: to be incompetent, you must at least be trying. But the men in charge are not trying; they have friends, and enemies, and as for the rest — we are the prey. Hurricane Katrina illustrated this perfectly….

Predation is the enemy of honest and independent and especially of sustainable business, of businesses that simply want to sell to the public and make a decent living over the long run. In a world where the winners are all connected, it is not only the prey (who by and large carry little political weight) who lose out. It is everyone who has not licked the appropriate boots. Predatory regimes are, more or less exactly, like protection rackets: powerful and feared but neither loved nor respected. They cannot reward everyone, and therefore they do not enjoy a broad political base.*

[T]o tolerate the Predator State is a formula for eventual national economic failure … [Where] the worst polluters, the flagrant monopolists, the technological footdraggers are given control over the system and capital markets reward them, their more progressive counterparts will eventually give up, disappear, or move away. Bad business practices will drive out good. …

And equally, the predators suck the capacity from government and deplete it of the ability to govern. In the short run, again, this looks like incompetence, but this is an illusion. Predators do not mind being thought incompetent; it obscures their actual agenda. Failure [on the scale of Katrina] is not due to incompetence. Rather, it is intended. There is a willful indifference to problems of competence. Inside the government, no one cares. The attention of the people in charge is focused on other goals.

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