Interesting post at alicublog prompted by Professor Bainbridge's dismissal, for all intents and purposes, of the concept of shareholder control over corporate governance. Roy tries to square this with the conservative insistence on the primacy of taxpayers over government - the constant carping over how "big government" is squandering your money. And it occurs to him:
[F]or conservatives, to paraphrase Vince Lombardi, money isn't everything, it's the only thing. They strongly identify with corporations, and therefore endorse whatever hauls in the most money for them and their leaders -- populism be damned. Government isn't nearly so important to them -- not a lot of profit to be seen there -- except as the object of a hostile takeover, after which it can be plundered and sold off for parts, toward which end a little pretense at populism is acceptable (See Revolution, Republican).I agree and I disagree. Social issues aside, I think there is an outwardly honest ideological dimension to economic conservatism. Conservative intellectuals really do believe that their ideas are meant to advance individual freedom and prosperity - it's not just propaganda. The problem, I think, is more to do with their failure to be honest with themselves. Their extremist Milton Friedmanism is utterly unsuited to actual governing, and when conservatives have held the reins of government, not only have they failed to shrink its size, they have failed to provide any of the ancillary benefits their policy ideas are supposed to generate for ordinary people.
They're pretty obvious when they're propagandizing, but their true nature is never more clear than when they talk about the thing(s) they love.