Hey, you know what conservatives really really hate?  I’ll give you a hint: It’s right up there in the title.  No, seriously, conservatives just can’t stand it when rich people and corporations use their vast wealth to game the system!  Just don’t ask them to support any kind of public campaign financing or limits on corporate political spending

  • Deroy Murdock/Heritage Foundation/WSJ, 1/17/12: Another problem: “Corruption is a growing concern as the cronyism and economic rent-seeking associated with the growth of government have undermined institutional integrity,” the [Heritage/WSJ] Index [of Economic Freedom] says.
  • Newt Gingrich, 1/11/12: [C]rony capitalism, where people pay each other off at the expense of the rest of the country, is not free enterprise.
  • Michele Bachmann, 11/7/11: Much of that spending and taxing occurs because government does what both the Constitution and decent morality prohibit, that is crony capitalism, or forcefully taking your money for the purpose of paying off a politician’s political friends.  The problem is one set of standards for individual Americans and another set of standards for those who make political donations to candidates. This practice, whether at the state level or the federal level, is letting the interest of the few outweigh the majority of Americans who don’t have access to the system.
  • John Stossel, 10/21/11: If by “capitalism” [the Occupiers] mean crony capitalism (let’s call it crapitalism), a system in which favored business interests are supported by government, I’m against that, too.
  • Sarah Palin, 9/3/11: It’s called corporate crony capitalism. This is not the capitalism of free men and free markets, of innovation and hard work and ethics, of sacrifice and of risk. No, this is the capitalism of connections and government bailouts and handouts, of waste and influence peddling and corporate welfare…. It’s the collusion of big government and big business and big finance to the detriment of all the rest – to the little guys.
  • Charles Koch, 3/1/11: Crony capitalism is much easier than competing in an open market. But it erodes our overall standard of living and stifles entrepreneurs by rewarding the politically favored rather than those who provide what consumers want.

And George Will must hate crony capitalism most of all (almost as much as he hates public campaign financing):

  • 1/6/12: Government becomes big by having big ambitions for supplanting markets as society’s primary allocator of wealth and opportunity. Therefore it becomes a magnet for factions muscular enough, in money or numbers or both, to bend government to their advantage.
  • 10/12/11: Unfortunately for OWS, big government’s scandal du jour, the Obama administration’s Solyndra episode of crony capitalism, does not validate progressivism’s indignation; it refutes progressivism’s aspiration, which is for more minute government supervision of society.
  • 9/14/11: The economic policy the “federal family” should adopt can be expressed in five one-syllable words: Get. Out. Of. The. Way. Instead, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, whose department has become a venture capital firm for crony capitalism and costly flops at creating “green jobs,” praises the policy of essentially banishing the incandescent light bulb as “taking away a choice that continues to let people waste their own money.”
  • 12/23/10 (with an assist from Dave Camp): The tax code, says Camp, “should not be a tool of industrial policy” or of “crony capitalism”: “Politicians should not pick the industry of the day.”
  • 5/13/10: Under crony capitalism, when government and corporate America merge, both dissemble.

As I said in my original response to Sarah Palin’s insincere diatribe, it’s a through-the-looking-glass view of corruption where the only villain that needs to be reined in is (Democratic) Big Government redistributing wealth to its cronies, and the obvious solution is to make it so shrunken and weak that it’s no longer worth buying.

At least I presume that’s the reasoning, since conservatives don’t show much interest in reining in the corporations, or their lobbyists, or their front groups.  Supposedly all-powerful “special-interest groups” like labor unions and environmentalists are likely another story, and some of the above quotes and examples (“political friends”, “connections”, “handouts”, “politically favored”, Solyndra, light bulbs) are careful to imply their inclusion.

In addition to blaming the sheep for being too plump and tasty, the anti-handout, anti-redistributionist conservatives never talk about corporate America’s determined and largely successful campaign to disembowel any regulations and enforcement it might be subject to, even though that has arguably been more lucrative than any government handouts could ever be.  To them, corruption can only take the form of “handouts,” because looking the other way is what government is supposed to do.  Eliminate the government as a functional entity, and you eliminate the problem of corruption.

Conservatives want to beat up the puppet; progressives want to remove the hand.