CRAPITALISM concerns the fusion of Big Government and Big Business, which has been variously described as “corporatism” or “crony capitalism.” One of Mattera’s objectives is to show that when Big Government is throwing sacks of taxpayer cash around, it’s hard to tell where “partnership” ends, and corruption begins. Crapitalism has gotten a lot worse during the Obama years, but many of the stories Mattera relates pre-date the current presidency, and he notes early on that legalized corruption has a strong bipartisan appeal.
“When government gets in the business of picking winners and losers, free market competition – the ‘muscles’ that animate capitalism – begin to atrophy,” Mattera explains. “That’s what big government Leftists want. Sadly, it’s also what some corporatist Republicans want as well. Republicans like Jeffrey Immelt, the head of General Electric. He’s taken cronyism to a stratospheric level, going as far as to call Uncle Sam a ‘key partner.’ And later on, you’ll see he wasn’t kidding. GE has lobbied its ‘partner’ to impose regulations, mandates, and other edicts that boost its bottom line. Hell, if you look up the definition of ‘corporate welfare’ in an online dictionary, you may get back ‘General Electric’ as the answer.”
As promised, Jeffrey Immelt gets his own chapter, along with names familiar to critics of cronyism – Al Gore, George Soros, Elon Musk – and some of the politicians most eager to serve them. A few of the book’s targets might be eye-opening for those unaware of how many special breaks and incentives the extremely rich entertainment and sports industries enjoy. One of the arguments commonly advanced to justify craptialist deals is that tax breaks for these industries are a wise investment (made on behalf of taxpayers, using their money, by politicians) because the stimulus to local economies from a big Hollywood production or sports arena will create loads of jobs. Mattera examines many such arrangements, and finds little evidence they deliver anything close to what was promised, even when the subsidized production goes on to be highly profitable. Taxpayers compelled to subsidize Hollywood enjoy a far smaller share of the profits than Democrat politicians and left-wing political causes. It’s practically a money-laundering arrangement. Between this book and his previous “Hollywood Hypocrites,” it’s fair to say a recurring theme of Jason’s work is exploring why young people inundated with class warfare are so willing to give the millionaire aristocracy of the entertainment world a total pass… even when they use taxpayers as piggy banks.
Businessmen with the right political connections, and fashionable Party pins, get a pass too. Billionaire Warren Buffett’s purchase of political insulation by cozying up to the Left might be one of the shrewdest bargains the Sage of Omaha ever struck, especially when you consider his actual relationship with taxation, rather than what he says about it. Ron Perelman went from being the king of corporate takeovers to a politically refined connoisseur of tax subsidies. George Soros is what the Left accuses the Koch Brothers of being. Perhaps the most remarkable example is environmentalist sugar daddy Tom Steyer, who bought the Democrat Party with cash on the barrelhead… and just coincidentally happens to have significant financial interests that benefit when his green activism cripples competitors. There’s more than just pure ideology behind Steyer’s opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline…