By Robert A. Vella

By now, in this 21st century post-modernity age of unrestrained corporate power, everyone should understand what corporatism is and what it isn’t.  Corporatism isn’t a form of government, it is a method of governance.  A republic is a form of government based on the rule of law.  A monarchy is a form of government based on the arbitrary decree of a ruling family.  An oligarchy is rule by a select few, usually determined by wealth (i.e. plutocracy).  A dictatorship places all power in a single individual, typically a military leader.  A totalitarian regime places all power in a single political party or other insular group entity.  A theocracy places all power in a single religious organization or sect.

These various forms of government are not necessarily mutually exclusive.  Iran, for example, is a theocratic republic.  Its rule of law is derived from the Islamic precepts established by Shiite Muslims.  Conversely, the United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy administered through a unitary parliamentary system.  However, regardless of the form of government, each nation can be evaluated on how democratic it is;  or, to put it more plainly, how much power is vested in its citizenry.  Democracy, aside from its direct application as put forth in ancient Greece, is – like corporatism – a method of governance and not a form.

The practice of democracy varies greatly from nation to nation.  It is most vibrant in some northern and western European countries, Iceland, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.  The U.K. ranks 16th in the world according to the Democracy Index (2014), the U.S. is 19th, and Iran 158th.  North Korea has the lowest ranking at 167.  It is interesting that the same countries having the highest democracy ratings also rate highest on the United Nation’s World Happiness Report.  This is no coincidence.  Libertarians, who envision a utopian world where countries exist without government, should note the anarchistic history of ungoverned or minimally-governed human societies (e.g. Somalia).

Corporatism, the close association or merger between state and corporate power, is generally incompatible with democracy due to its authoritarian nature.  It seeks streamlined administrative efficiency aimed towards facilitating business concerns as well as the interests of persons involved in such enterprise.  Corporatism is technocratic, innately antithetical to public deliberation and consensus.  Decision-making must be expedient, and executed by and for those most vested in the outcome.  It is seen, almost exclusively by its practitioners, as a supreme expression of exceptionalism.

So, whenever this self-aggrandizing, supremacist method of governance – known as corporatism – shoots itself in the foot, it must pose quite a shock to its gunslingers – especially when the target was its archrival, democracy.

From Daily KosBusiness owners try to remove all voters from business district, but they forgot one college student:

Normally gerrymandering in a medium-sized town that doesn’t even pertain to city council elections would be too down-in-the-weeds, but this story from the Columbia Tribune is too funny to ignore. Self-interested business owners successfully petitioned the Columbia, Missouri, city council to create a local Community Improvement District, which would have the authority to impose a half-cent sales tax increase with voter approval. However, the district lines were drawn in a manner that attempted to avoid containing any eligible voters, meaning that property-owners themselves would get to decide on the sales tax increase as a way to avoid further property taxes to pay for improvements.

Unfortunately for them, things didn’t exactly go according to plan. It soon became known that a single voter, University of Missouri student Jen Henderson, was registered to vote in the new CID. That means that she alone will get to decide whether or not to approve the sales tax increase. The CID has already gone into debt to finance planned improvements and was counting on the increased revenue from the sales tax increase.

Predictably, Henderson is not pleased with how manipulative this process has been. She was even asked to de-register so that the vote would revert to property owners. While Henderson hasn’t publicly stated which way she plans to vote, she sounded skeptical of the proposed sales tax increase and rightfully pointed out how it is regressive in nature while the benefits accrue mainly to incumbent businesses.

In a delicious twist of irony, if Henderson votes against the sales tax increase or the vote is called off entirely, the only way for the CID to pay off its debts will be to levy further taxes on property, which is exactly what these businesses were trying to avoid. Most of the time gerrymandering is successful and unfair, but instances like this show it can sometimes backfire spectacularly.

Oh, the irony!  Oh, the poetic justice!

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