The Corporate State: A Love Story

Via John Stoessel:

Moore declares capitalism evil, but he's never clear about what "capitalism" means. Considering how much time he spends documenting the cozy relationship between business and government, I thought he might mean "state capitalism."

But then he uses the term "free market" as a synonym for what he doesn't like.

What does the free market have to do with businesses manipulating government and strong-arming Congress for bailouts? Moore properly condemns both.

A libertarian student at GWU pushes Michael Moore on this issue, captured on video.

In the movie, Moore apparently:

visits the National Archives to see if the Constitution establishes capitalism as the country's economic system. Seeing the words "people," "union," and "welfare" in the document, he says, "Sounds like that other ism."

The reason is because free-market capitalism is not a system.  It is the un-system.  It is the lack of a system.  It is the chaotic, anarchic, bottom-up actions of 300 million people acting to direct their lives as they see fit and improve their own financial well-being.  The fact that it works without top-down coordination, that the right number of pencils get manufactured each year without a pencil czar, is a testament to the power of a few simple tools, particularly price, in signaling to individuals where they might best employ their own time and capital.


  1. Pat Moffitt:

    Isn't capitalism just a macro view of grass roots organizing?

  2. dry wit:

    Thank you for pointing that out. I've always held that free market is akin to atheism, where the idea is the lack of system or a designer. But human beings are very uncomfortable with the idea that nobody is in charge.

    I watched the entire video of Moore answering the student's question and he started of well, actually admits it's the corporatism that is at fault. Then he turns around and spews out a lot of gibberish. At this point the student just gave up and was polite.

    It makes me ecstatic to know that the government cares about my sex life; I can always find advice at Hmm, what if I want to have a three way?

  3. Colin:

    Moore completely misses the point when he laments that we can only vote every two years or so and says we need more democracy to influence the kind of world we live in. The fact is, capitalism IS democracy. Everything we buy -- or decide not to buy -- is a vote for the kind of world we wish to live in. The votes are tabulated constantly and manifested in the world we see around us.

  4. stan:

    Don't call it capitalism. Call it the free enterprise system. And the Constitution has all kinds of provisions which protect our freedom and our property. Tell Moore to check out that little part of the Declaration of Independence discussing life, LIBERTY, and the pursuit of happiness.

    The freedom to engage in transactions is part of that "liberty" thingee.

  5. C. Comly:

    Stossel spells his name with 1 e.

  6. DrTorch:

    Sorry, but Stossel is wrong about "just enough pencils".

    Overproduction happens all the time (look at Crocs), often after a lengthy period or perception of underproduction (again, see Crocs).

    When this happens, people get hurt: investors lose money, employees lose jobs, factories get shuttered, resources are used inefficiently.

    The error that is made is the assertion that some system exists where "nobody gets hurt." Both free market advocates and statists make that error b/c they're rooted in utopianism.

    Lots of people get hurt in a free market, it's part of the economic churn. However, it's much better than statism b/c there nearly everybody gets hurt, while corruption and loss of freedom are guranteed.

    Now in fairness, most free market advocates only imply utopianism (as Stossel did.) When pressed, they admit there will be problems. Nevertheless, they leave themselves open for this criticism because they aren't up front about it at the beginning, and b/c our society has been led to believe they're entitled to Utopia.

  7. Mesa Econoguy:

    Michel Moore is a truly confused person.

    All of his supporting “evidence” is either highly selective (and edited beyond recognition from empirical data/experience), or is simply flatly wrong. His problem is, so much of economics is counterintuitive, except for the glaring failure of collectivism known as the 20th century, which he apparently missed. So the fact that he can’t recognize true failure when he sees it, then rails against a “system” that actually works but is made to function poorly by the very ideas he proposes as a solution, but have already failed miserably several times, doesn’t bode well for his MENSA score.

    Krugman has very similar issues, which is even less excusable because he’s supposedly a subject matter expert.

    Economics is a very dark room filled with lots of obstacles for him to break/run into/crack his shins, but he will never, ever find a flashlight, much less the light switch.

  8. Dr. T:

    I never understood the popularity of Michael Moore. His first movie about General Motors showed that he was an idiot who could barely hold his own on an assembly line. Since then, he has reiterated his idiocy with each "documentary." But, tens of millions of fans think he's great and pay to watch his films, so they must be more idiotic than he is.

    Personally, I'm still waiting for free market capitalism. We keep getting closer, but then we pull back with a weird combination of more nannystatism and more corporatism. Michael Moore abhors corporatism, and he thinks that democratism (everyone voting on the economy) is better. He believes that consciously voting on some aspect of the economy is better than voting through spending choices. Weird.

  9. joe:

    You said: The reason is because free-market capitalism is not a system. It is the un-system. It is the lack of a system.

    This is wrong. Capitalism is a system. You need enforcement of contracts. You need rules to prevent monopoly and other barriers to entry. You need rules to prevent self dealing, you need rules to prevent fraud (weights and measures)

    Somalia is the lack of a system. That's what a total break down in rules leads to, tribalism and warlordism.

    Not to say we need all the rules we've got, but no rules doesn't seem to work very well either.

  10. Mesa Econoguy:

    Joe, you confuse anarchy with constitutional republic.

    Plus Mikey “Giant Tub of Lard” Moore apparently can’t read his own publications:

    Europe's Socialists Suffering Even in Downturn

  11. Mesa Econoguy:

    Joe, you confuse anarchy with constitutional republic.

    Plus Mikey “Vacuous Lardtrough” Moore apparently can’t read his own publications:

    Europe's Socialists Suffering Even in Downturn

  12. Mesa Econoguy:


    You said: The reason is because free-market capitalism is not a system. It is the un-system. It is the lack of a system.
    This is wrong.

    No, he’s right. You confuse framework with operational stipulation.

  13. Methinks:

    The fat has seeped into Moore's pathetic grey cells and killed off any working cells. I'm with Dr. T on this. I saw "Roger and Me" in my youth and thought it was profoundly stupid. His "work" has only tumbled downhill since then. No wonder he appeals to so many retarded liberals.

  14. MJ:

    I remember wathcing Roger and Me as a college freshman as well. I sympathized with Moore somewhat -- living in such an awful place like Flint probably leaves you searching for a culprit. But that was 20 years ago.

    Since then, Michigan has continued to lean Left and has adopted economic policies that come closer to Moore's socialist ideal than nearly any other state. The results speak for themselves. To the best of my knowledge, Flint is still losing population.