(From the ongoing tax policy discussion.)

@Pete, who wrote: “at the same time, [Adam Smith] saw the need of government as an interventionary force to prevent excesses that worked against the general public interest”

In the material you quoted, and elsewhere, he argued strenuously against exactly this. It is precisely such government interference, “[t]he proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce,” that he warned required “great caution” because of the involvement of crony capitalism.

You wrote, “The problem with the thinking of the American right, to my mind, is it ends up investing all the power with corporate interests by proxy.”

You are used to politics in the UK, and evidently China as well. But in the US, it is the right (the Tea Party and those remaining Republicans who are not entrenched in the establishment) who most steadfastly oppose the intrusion of crony capitalism into free enterprise. The exact opposite of your assertion, which more fairly characterizes the Left here.

Current Republican leadership, like its Democrat counterpart, is a tool of large business interests. The Democrats tend to favor the troughs of money set out by the unions and major law firms and banks. The Republicans are drawn toward the US Chamber of Crony Capitalism, er, Commerce and their own share of Wall Street largess, often with the same Wall Street companies and law firms feeding both sides. The Obama administration has been chock full of Goldman Sachs and other investment firm leaders; they move by osmosis in and out of the administration, with a trail of … favors such as the Dodd Frank bill.

One difference is the particular affinity recently for the Dems to be quite blatant about repaying recent campaign contributions with government largess; a recent calculation I saw had Obama donors “earning” 190 to 1 on money from government over money to Obama, mostly in “green” businesses. Fossil fuel companies favor the left in the US; BP, for example, recently gave hard-left Berkeley University the largest donation any university has ever received, and similarly Enron, Shell, Exxon and Mobil have all been pushing the catastrophic global warming bit for years. (Enron was largely responsible for creating the Kyoto Protocol.) Again, this is a distortion of business to favor certain interests.

Both sides have particular sugar daddies that help put on these repasts, but those largely operate externally to the two-party system. Soros funded operations — there are hundreds — push hard for the over-extension and then necessary collapse of the American welfare state, ending what is to him an era of “odious” US superiority. He also funds various offensive campaigns against those who would interfere with this. Similarly Steyer, a fossil-fuel billionaire now pretending to be “green” is operating in a similar manner, though more narrowly focused and more obviously avaricious.

The Koch brothers, while an order of magnitude less than Soros in their funding, are also pushing in several directions. Oddly, not in the global warming areas as are much thought; the stolen papers from Heartland, for example, showed the Koch brothers with a grand total of $25k toward global warming studies, and that was not current. Instead, they pursue healthcare, education, and free enterprise areas that, looked at objectively, are hard to find fault with. Notably, also, these areas are not to the direct benefit of the Koch brothers themselves.

Compare this to Warren Buffett, whose contributions against the Keystone pipeline directly boost his own business transporting that same oil by rail, or his agitating for a “billionaire tax” which would tremendously bump his own businesses providing tax avoidance schemes to high-net-worth individuals.

Getting everybody out of the business of distorting business would unleash the economy. Since much of this distortion is through millions of pages of tax policy, killing that is an excellent first step.

==============/ Keith DeHavelle