George Lakoff recommended using the word Privateering to describe klepto political policies like privatization. That term turns out to be extremely appropriate for understanding the modern confidence scheme movement that calls itself "conservative." They like to say they are for "Capitalism" and against "Socialism" but privateering is a bait and switch operation where fake capitalists acquire rents and usurp property they can use to extract loot. It is not what most people think of when they think of "free enterprise."
The Sea Dog Tradition
The term "privateer" ought to push buttons and make alarms go off for people who are paying attention. Our US mob always wants to be legal, so it buys politicians to legalize what would be criminal anywhere else. It turns out our own Mafia is the inheritors of the "Brotherhood of the Coast" and a tradition of piracy (Sea Dogs) that still infects our politics and business. it truly can be seen as an ideology that masques itself as "capitalism."
An Ideology of Privateering
This ideology embraces the following basic principles:
FDR called these the principles of “economic royalism” & hinges on the following beliefs:
The notions that:
- that all things, including people, are property that can be owned.
- that contracts, even coerced contracts, are sacred.
- that people, or their labor, can be owned by a person or corporation thru the power of contract.
- that a corporation can usurp personhood.
- that private government is superior to public government.
- that public government doesn't invest & can't have a positive role in economic or social progress.
- that profits come before any notions of public good or responsibility.
Privateering As titles of nobility
The Far Right calls a government that provides basic services "socialism", but they practice the privatization of anything that nature provides all of us and its placement into private hands. Land, minerals, water resources, all traditionally belong to “the commons” and yet we give them to private persons or privately owned companies to manage and extract wealth from. If someone by an accident of birth comes to own a part of nature's bounty, that is privilege not effort, labor or merit.
Enclosing the Commons
A privateering ideology is also an ideology of nobility. The constitution says that no titles of nobility should be granted. But it seems that granting property to self appointed nobility, that they can extract rents from, is fine.
When what was previously run for the common good, is enclosed, turned out for profit. The term for that is "enclosing the commons." It is analogous to when land barons started stringing barbed wire across the plains and killing wandering cattlemen (free rangers). It is analogous to giving people "titles of nobility", except it usually is laundered through legal processes.
Titles of Nobility
We give titles of nobility to Owners of;
- Sports Team Owners
- Communications, energy and transport companies.
- Monopolies, copyrights and patents.
- Insurance, Health Care.
Extracting Rents from monopoly
And these owners extract profits from profiteering in medicines, health care products, and by overcharging everyone. They don't invest in new medicines or technologies so much as extract rents from existing products. When they do invest in new products they mark up the products so high very little of the investment is actual investment.
A rentier doesn't care if the building, corporation or land he owns is kept in good order, or if people eat or survive. All they care about is extracting their rents.
At the basis of oppression is the enforcement of criminal, unjust or oppressive contracts. US law has always treated criminal contracts as unenforceable. But when government is corrupt, it legalizes what would have been considered criminal in the past. Thus people are saddled with huge debt, with interest, for attending college; with criminal loans for their homes. With unconscionable rents. And have no recourse. This is privateering. It is legalized looting.
Contracts as a Vehicle of Slavery
Our country outlawed slavery, but it comes back to life through abusive contracts and abusive use of the law. Those who can't pay debts used to get put in debtor prisons. The system is trying to bring those back. The government outlawed the use of bankruptcy for dealing with education debts, and people are losing everything to debt for healthcare. Getting an education is a public good, not only for the student, but for society. Health care is a "non-refusable" public good where people will die if they can't get what they are unable to afford. Extracting profits and using debt to enslave people who need those services is engaging in modern slavery. Privateers used to have to grab and smuggle people from Africa. All they have to do now is print money through a bank and loan it to someone in our days.This is legal piracy, loan sharking and enslaving people.
The Federal Government, thru, corrupt legislators and judges gave rights to corporations as artificial persons, in the 1880s, at the very same time they were taking it from the persons that the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments were intended to protect. Privateers, as economic royalists, love the Royal "we." The Corporation as a "person" asserts the rights to having a religious belief, to telling its employees what to do, and the right to enslave employees, take their labor and stiffing them on promised compensation. Many a CEO claims to speak for all his employees, they often claim to own their labor, innovations and enterprise. And they take a cut of everything.
And thanks to corrupt SCOTUS, they claim a right to bribe and extort politicians into doing their bidding with unlimited corporate money. Monopolies and centralized power are putting pirates in charge of the country.
Government and Investment
A Convincing case has been made that without public investment, there would be little private wealth and it would be so poorly distributed that there would no longer be what we now think of as a middle class. The argument of con artists is that public investment doesn't improve society. This was a Reagan Era trope and is patently false. But it is also an excuse for privateering. The fact is that without public investment; no electrical grid, oil, canals, railroads, roads and highways. In fact no real civilization. The government is not allowed to treat its capital investment as capital due to accounting tricks perpetuated by pirates over a period of centuries. Even our money is privatized by legal pirates. Since the beginning of the country the absurdity of issuing private notes based on treasury notes has been obvious to critics. Yet, we depreciate direct treasury notes and let the Federal Reserve serve as a tongue louse on our financial system.