The Government and the Mob

One of the things I most like about waking up in the morning is that I never know what kind of questions people will have asked me.   Every days is Christmas!!

 

Rory Miller asked:

 

“Steven, logic me this, and I’m being serious. I agree that there is a government/corporation partnership. But in that partnership, one side owns all the guns. The same side can legislate any corporate player out of existence, and frequently threatens to do so ( look up “milker bills” or “juicer bills”). The same side has created this game including all the rules and essentially forced corporations to pay bribes (called donations) simply to survive. Isn’t saying corporations are running the government like saying the mom and pop stores paying protection money are running the mafia?”

 

Wow, do I like this question, and it is a prime example of why I love Rory Miller–he actually asks stuff I’ve not considered, that opens doors of genuinely fascinating inquiry.  Here goes!  These would be my thoughts on that question, top to bottom.  In My Humble Opinion:

 

1)The Government, corporations, and “The Mafia” are all forms of social organization, emergent aspects of hard-wired human (and in many cases) primate groupings.    Families have parents, tribes have councils, villages have trade groupings, etc.   The more people, the more complicated these things get, and they are mostly neutral.

 

2)Corporations and Governments are decidedly neutral, morally.  Corporations merely being groups of similarly minded people, sometimes but not always engaged in commerse, functioning as a single individual for the sake of legalities. Governments are nothing but groups of people organizing to try to live together.   Sometimes around a “strong man” who makes decisions.   They often choose or elect representatives once the direct voting is no longer effective.  That’s “bottom up”.  But of course, power collects, so those at the top will try to preserve their power through bureaucracy,  or through heredity.  But there is no form of government without SOME consent of some of the governed.

 

3) The Mafia is a different matter. It is specifically an organization of criminals (those living outside the rules of a society) so that those criminals do not interfere with each other, and can pool resources to manipulate the system.  By definition, such an organization is not neutral as are governments and corporations. In fact, if you change the laws (end Prohibition, for instance) the Mafia will shift its interests to something else illegal (for instance, heroin) because that is where the profit is.

 

4) The Mafia, for all practical purposes, provides no services to the community, except the community of criminals who are actually its membership. This is not totally true–it is not entirely parasitic, and individuals provide charity, usury when normal credit is not available, even aspects of justice.  But it is still PRIMARILY a criminal enterprise, existing for the sake of the criminals.

 

5) Given those definitions, my following thoughts on your question result:

 

“I agree that there is a government/corporation partnership. But in that partnership, one side owns all the guns.”

Not all, but I understand what you’re saying: there is a vastly disproportionate amount of force.  Of course, there are multinational corporations with more guns than some governments, so this will be less and less true as time goes on.

 

“ The same side can legislate any corporate player out of existence, and frequently threatens to do so ( look up “milker bills” or “juicer bills”).”

There is enough truth in this.  Again though, multinational corporations are getting beyond the reach of individual governments.

 

“The same side has created this game including all the rules and essentially forced corporations to pay bribes (called donations) simply to survive.”

Corporations certainly create rules when they have enough power to do so.  The “company store” concept makes it clear that they, like any other form of social organization (or most human beings, which makes sense since these are all forms of human organization) will grab all the power they can.

 

Isn’t saying corporations are running the government like saying the mom and pop stores paying protection money are running the mafia?”

  

Well, this is the one we’re working up to, and I’ll answer it in chunks as well.

  1. I never said corporations are running the government.   Influence, yes.  In some cases vast influence. But just influence.   Saying corporations “are running” America is a panicked exaggeration.  
  2. The criminals who are members of the Mafia “run” the Mafia.  For the mom and pop stores to be in the same position to Don Corleone that the average citizen has to the government, the Mafia would have to run the schools, pave the streets, organize the utilities, provide for the common defense, and much more.  As I said, the Mafia DOES provide some small aspects of these things, just as Corporations DO give back to their communities, and just as Governments can function as thugs.  But that is not the primary function.   Corporations are legally created entities so that groups of people or business ventures can function as individuals, or shield their personal assets.  They are about as ethical or unethical as are human beings in general.  “Governments” are groups of individuals organizing for mutual benefit or advantage, which are also about as ethical or unethical as human beings in general.  ““Mafia” is a government of and for criminals, that provides a few anecdotal benefits to the sheep they shear.    It is about as ethical or unethical as are CRIMINALS in general.

 

I’ve often been very happy dealing with corporate entities, whether business or charity.   I’ve often been happy dealing with Governments, or thought “thank goodness” for various of its functionings.

 

And…there have also been times I’ve been furious with corporations (the Tobacco Industry has my very special ire), or governments, but I know of no form of human organization that does not lead to governments or trade groupings–they are a natural offshoot of natural human tendencies, found at all levels from tribal to international.  But the Mafia?   I can’t remember ever thinking: Thank God for the Mob, although I HAVE been happy certain black markets exist.

 

Those are my thought processes on this.   Corporations are now powerful enough to challenge governments, and complex enough to be considered life forms with the most basic and primitive sort of awareness, sort of like simple organisms with a hundred or so cells for every human being working for them.   Their morality is revealed not in how they treat individuals but how they treat each other, peer-to-peer.

 

Governments are no more moral per se, but their original intent is to provide security or apportion resources for those who form them (and of course can get way out of control)

 

Business corporations are formed to make and protect profits.   To this end they generally understand they must provide goods and services to a customer base, and might even encourage people to invest in them.

 

Democratic governments, then, are like corporations if the vast majority of their customers owned a share of stock.   The less democratic, the more that stock is concentrated in a few hands.   Needless to say, there are going to be perceived advantages and disadvantages to each entity (they are in some ways just different versions of each other, of course).  Specifically criminal organizations take a specific reality (human beings don’t always color inside the lines) and an inevitable outgrowth of government and commerce (black markets, criminal activity) and a natural human tendency (to organize for mutual benefit) to a specific extreme.

 

There.  Whew!   Long, complicated answer to a damned good question. If I would boil all of that down, it would be that your analogy would hold water in a world in which the average citizen believes (or would agree that)  the Mafic provides the same amount of service that the average citizen believes (or would agree with) is provided by their government.  It is my observation that a vastly smaller percentage of people want to “abolish the government” than would like to “smash the mob.”

 

YMMV, of course

 

Steve

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