How To Fight The Ex-Im Bank

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by James E. Miller of Mises Canada,

In politics, words can be dangerous weapons. The terms we use can either accurately or inaccurately reflect what the government is up to. George Orwell understood this better than anyone, and his essay “Politics and the English Language” is a great denouncement of the abuse of words at the hands of the political class. Though he was writing at the end of World War II, Orwell’s criticism still rings true today. In the age of around-the-clock news and easily digestible sound bites, political speech and writing have largely become “the defense of the indefensible.”

The ongoing debate in the United States over the merits of the Export-Import Bank – a government institution that makes loans to governments and private companies abroad to boost domestic exports – exemplifies this tug-of-war between language. The D.C. lobbying cabal and its puppets in Congress are staunchly defending the institution as a job-creator and economic necessity. A handful of free market organizations are attacking the bank for being a deliberate form of crony capitalism. For years, the intrepid Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner has led the fight to dismantle the Ex-Im Bank, calling out the unfair advantage given to companies like Boeing through government-backed underwriting. His efforts finally appear to be gaining steam. Newly elected House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has indicated his support for allowing the charter of the Bank to expire come the end of September. All the lower chamber of Congress has to do is sit on their laurels and the relic of the New Deal era will finally begin to unravel.

Of course, special interests in Washington aren’t going down without a fight. A well-financed lobbying effort is pulling levers behind the scenes to make sure the Bank remains functional. The goal is to convince the American people that the Ex-Im Bank promotes the national interest. Using buzz phrases like “investment at home” and “creating jobs,” the strategy is to obfuscate their true agenda: preserving the trough from which they feed.

So here’s my radical suggestion to help counter to the pro-crony forces: be upfront about the true sinister nature of organizations like the Ex-Im Bank. Let’s call a spade a spade, and finally describe the Ex-Im Bank what it truly is: fascism. Such a word comes off as a boogey man term used to rile up emotions. But in the battle of ideas, sophistry always comes up short. Just as the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, precise words are better than vague words when it comes to making a point.

Fascism was best defined by Italian historian Gaetano Salvemini as an economic system where “profit is private and individual” and “loss is public and social.”  What’s a better merger of government and business than a bank that makes loans to finance the purchase of private-made goods, all of which is backed by taxpayers?

The use of the word “fascism” is guaranteed to turn some people off. The economic system is seen as authoritarian and tyrannical. But calling things as they are penetrates the bubble of specious reasoning. It forces the hand of regime defenders; either they must defend the corrupt system they favor or back off.

Some more astute commentators may claim the tactic is too coarse for the mission. Politics, they say, should be a gentleman’s game where rational discourse is paramount. I completely agree; hence I advocate using fascism to describe exactly what the Ex-Bank is: a government entity used to shore up the balance sheets of for-profit companies.

There is nothing unfair about using proper definitions. What lack fairness are the dishonest arguments being made in favor of the Bank. Robert Samuelson of the Washington Post argues that the Ex-Im Bank “turned a profit in 2013 and paid $1.1 billion to the Treasury.” Not only that, but the Bank “helped support 205,000 jobs” last year, and should thus be allowed to survive given the weak economy.

These kind of arguments are typical of mainstream press reporters. Every government agency is somehow turning a profit. And all government personnel are desperately needed so as to not rock the economy into a recession. Lines of argument such as this take economics to be a straightforward science devoid of nuanced meaning. If something creates a job, then it’s good. If a profit is recorded, that’s also a sign of success. But economic prosperity is never that easy. If the world worked that way, then communism would be an unparalleled success instead of a disaster.

Just the same, the Ex-Im Bank appears to be a sound institution due to fraudulent accounting. According to the Congressional Budget Office, when the Bank is subject to fair-value accounting rules, it actually lost $2 billion over the past decade. In other words, if it were a private institution, the Bank would go the way of Pontiac cars or Circuit City.

If the Ex-Im Bank is a money-loser, then it doesn’t matter how many jobs it creates. The labor and resources that make the Bank functional are being wasted. Proponents of the institution are therefore arguing that taxpayers throw their money away so that Boeing and other big manufacturers get a subsidy. Basically, they are making the case for fascism in the American economy. Is it so much to ask that they be up front about it?

The notion that fascism is somehow foreign to the U.S. is disproven by the very founding of the Ex-Im Bank. As the Franklin Roosevelt administration struggled to get the economy out of the Great Depression, they forthrightly acknowledged they borrowed policy from Mussolini and the fascists. Presidential adviser Rexford Tugwell noted in his private diary that the Italian dictator had done “many of the things which seem to me necessary.” One report from the National Recovery Administration – a bureaucracy created by the National Recovery Act- declared the “Fascist Principles are very similar to those we have been evolving here in America.” Roosevelt himself called Mussolini “admirable” in a letter to an American envoy. In another letter, the president told the addressee “I don’t mind telling you in confidence that I am keeping in fairly close touch with the admirable Italian gentleman.”

If the father of the U.S. welfare state was brave enough to admire fascism in its day, why aren’t the endorsers of a strong, centralized government today? The answer is that “fascism” is now a catch-all word for bigoted conservativism – not a genuine economic system. As Orwell wrote following the last World War, the word “Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable.’” If that’s the working definition today, I see no reason to not use it. The economic merits of the Ex-Im Bank are in serious question. Arguments for its closure would be best helped with some more forceful language.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
NoDebt's picture

Fascism, Crony-Capitalism.... 220, 221.... whatever it takes.

Tired of paying for it.  Shut the bitch down.

buzzsaw99's picture

I doubt anyone has even heard of the Ex-Im Bank and I don't know why they would bother trying to convince the public of anything because the public is largely irrelevant. It sounds like someone's ox is getting gored and they don't like it one bit.

SmittyinLA's picture

Actually the "convince the public" narrative is a complete crock of shit, what ex-import is doing is bribing congress, (blowjobs, donations, threats) prediction they renew, because non-renewal means all the crooks in Congress who engineered "loans to cronies" that went bad get exposed, you can cover up any size losses if you can keep rolling over debt, not so much when you lose your charter.

disabledvet's picture

There better be some titty play too. (Don't want the opposition to think we can be bought off THAT cheap.)

Georgia_Boy's picture

The more interesting question to me is, why is this happening now?  Oh I know, Republicans have had a change of heart, they've been paying for this Export-Import Bank thing since FDR and now they've been struck by a sudden pang of conscience, hey we really ought to be standing on our principles instead of letting this thing slide for the sake of keeping Boeing and GE hiring and ourselves in office, let's do something now cause there's no time like the present right?  Come on, what's the real story, why is this a thing right now?

Anusocracy's picture

'Cause the wind is starting to blow from a different direction.

SmittyinLA's picture

Its not just the import export bank, the World Bank has issued bonds for a Carribean hurricane and earthquake insurance fund, and UK and EU banks have issued debt for a equatorial African flood insurance program, all these entities are tied to our federal reserve banks.

America's fascist bank liabilities don't end with the ex-import bank liabilities, they are just one of many public credit cards in private hands.

Anusocracy's picture

Laying the groundwork for a worldwide FSA-Crony Capitalist army.

tony bonn's picture

yes the import export banks is another example of fascism and totalitarianism, but if that is all you can focus on when we have vast criminal enterprises such as the fed, bis, and imf, then i am afraid you have a knack for majoring in the minors.

if you have a yen for banks, why not expose the vampire squid and jp morgan whose ceo has faked throat cancer to exit his criminal organization before someone throws him over the side of 1 chase plaza. jamie dimon's throat cancer is as real as "michelle" Obama's" boobs. "she" is a man.

disabledvet's picture

I don't eat the popcorn to see how this is gonna turn out now. I eat popcorn because that's all that's left.

BeetleBailey's picture

Fuck ALL the god damn banks.





Anusocracy's picture

It's not ruining the world for those who operate the system.

It's owning the world for them.

disabledvet's picture

How are we gonna, I mean "sell" all those Abrams tanks to Egypt?

This is a profoundly bad idea as clearly it's time for some "blue on blue" action to see who really is the equal in the same American equipment. "Yes the contract does include the complete rebuild package for both sides...PLUS FREE SHIPPING! (but this is a limited time offer...SO ACT FAST!)

theliberalliberal's picture

The shortest distance between two points is not a straight's zero.


ugmug's picture

Our new national anthem....

The Pipkins - Gimme Dat Ding:


MaxThrust's picture

If the ExIm bank has "skeletons in the closet" it will be saved at the last hour by CONgress

The will puppets of the Oligarchs

Ban KKiller's picture

Fascist oligarchy as I have said all along...

tostaky06's picture

Bitcoin !!!!!!!!

Againstthelie's picture

Mises Institute - Austrian school of economics - the strongest supporters of "free trade", the destruction of national borders and souvereignity, international banking, casino capitalism, that the market was solving everything (who cares about the costs for future generations).

As sick and deadly for the nations as the other side of the same medal of globalist Jewish materialism (Communism).

SameAsItEverWas's picture

How do you "fight" ignorance?  With Truth, of course.

But where can you find Clio?  Oh that's a tough one because most of our history has been rewritten with hardly anyone noticing, the process being so subtle and nothing at alll authoritarian like in 1984.  Someone quite brilliant must have come up with the idea of making the herd police itself ... and it was completely successful.

Why is so rare to find a person who understands that what passes for "History" is really just indoctrination and conditioning for social control?

You can find Clio in History of Social Intelligence, Harry Elmer Barnes, originally published 1926:

Barnes in his essay "Globaloney and the Interventionist Chickens Come Home to Roost" explained how FDR in the early days of WWII issued a wartime order to melt all the bookplates being held at publishers to republish books that have not been recent best-sellers, or had huge press runs otherwise.

It seemed harmless at the time, but it was much more effective that burning books, because it was silent; the books were being aborted, not murdered, to use an analogy whose politics I disagree with. 


P.S.  Right now on government radio, a show called Fresh Aiir is talking about how there were airplance hijackings on almost a daily basis in the early 1970s and that the currentt RSIK is so low that TSA agents are constantly shown gruesome pictures of plane crashes and reminders about the Jindawi hijacking where a pregnant women concealed an explosive device on her body .... which is the reason why EVERYONE is subject to strip search, as in ASSUME THE POSITION of submission. Wll, of course that woman was prevented from boarding ... and her evil boyfriend languishes in prison to this day ... how can anyone but a child "believe" in these reverse fairy tales of imaginary bogeymen createed by the very same people  who claim to be "fighting" them ... all to protect us ....and it;s obvious total nonsense?

P.P.S.  Maybe the lie is so obvious to me because of my career in risk analysis.  Even before that training and experience the fable of the Emperor's new Clothes always rang true for me.

SameAsItEverWas's picture

Do a search for "Alain de Botton" and ask yourself: Is this a real person?

Barnes died in 1968 and I can't find anything he wrote about the JFK assasination ... did he?  If you know what I'm talking about, drop me a line.

Ban KKiller's picture

Agreed...mostly. Fascist oligarchy is the term we must use in describing the current system. Perhaps folks might even learn the meanings. Nope...I don't think so. 

Back to bread and circuses!