The American Corporation Today

By Carl Kaysen | Go to book overview
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rate cultural hegemony and everything to do with history, institutions, and an individualist culture. One might almost turn the Lindblom argument on its head: in those nations, such as Germany or Japan, where business enjoys the greatest political privileges, it has the least legitimacy; in the United States, where it enjoys the fewest privileges, it has the greatest legitimacy.

Business executives might take some small comfort from this fact. They profess not to like a government that is slow, cumbersome, conflict-ridden, suspicious of many ordinary business activities, and sometimes animated by a desire to impose what they view as the most unreasonable regulations. They may yearn for an older time when the federal government was small and (ordinarily) not threatening. Whatever the merit -- and there is much -- in the business desire for a government policy that is reasonable, predictable, and sympathetic, the price attached to having such a government may be very high. In a strong state with well-established coordinating mechanisms for managing government-business relations, the conflicts within the government -- a fractious Congress, an inconsistent bureaucracy, an aggressive judiciary -- would be pushed outside the government into the arena of political parties and social movements. Marxist, populist, and "green" parties, reflective of deep cleavages in public opinion, are found precisely in those nations that have such formal or informal coordinating mechanisms. The benefits to business of our fragmented, uncoordinated, adversarial system may be precisely its tendency to maintain public confidence that "no one is getting away with anything" and thus to reduce the chances of mass disaffection from either democracy or capitalism.


Notes
1.
For the classic account, see E. E. Schattschneider, Politics, Pressures, and the Tariff ( New York: Prentice-Hall, 1935).
2.
Raymond A. Bauer, Ithiel de Sola Pool, and Lewis Anthony Dexter, American Business and Public Policy ( New York: Atherton Press, 1963), p. 324.
3.
Elizabeth Drew, as quoted in Mark V. Nadel, The Politics of Consumer Protection ( Indianapolis, Ind.: Bobbs-Merrill, 1971), p. 143.
4.
Client politics is distinguished from other kinds of political transactions in James Q. Wilson, ed., The Politics of Regulation ( New York: Basic Books, 1980), chap. 10.
5.
George Stigler, "The Theory of Economic Regulation", Bell Journal of Economics and Management Science 2 ( 1971): 1-21.
6.
See Paul Quirk, "Food and Drug Administration", in The Politics of Regulation, ed. James Q.Wilson ( New York: Basic Books, 1980), esp. pp. 191-97.
7.
The distinction between insider and outsider politics is adapted from

-433-

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