A Problem with Political Reform

President Obama has been getting hammered by Republicans for the dismal economic growth that has taken place during his time in office. Last week’s report showing that only 95,000 jobs were added in June was no different.

For an exception to the typical partisan divide, though, notice that the data influencing the political debate is not how well people are able to direct their own lives free of the authoritarian control of bosses or to what extent people are able to engage in mutually beneficial exchanges. What drives the debate about the state of the economy is aggregate measurements like GDP growth and employment statistics.

That plays into the big business interests responsible for influencing what those aggregate outcomes will be. If policy makers want to act to improve the economy by those metrics, they will have to do so by enacting policies favorable to the existing firms in operation, further cartelizing and cementing power away from working people, even if genuinely progressive reformers were wanting to curb the power of big businesses.

I am not convinced that progressives like Obama have any interest in curbing the influence that corporations have in politics or the economy. For one thing, genuine leftist aren’t willing to concede perpetual corporate rent seeking — ultimately paid for by taxpayers anyhow — for the sake of token workplace reforms.