Corporate leaders become politicians; politicians become corporate leaders. Weapons contractors lobby politicians for more war. Prison contractors lobby for tougher sentencing. Private intelligence companies advise the State Department on foreign policy, policy which in turn benefits the intelligence companies. The Central Intelligence Agency hires Amazon to store sensitive information in its cloud.
Although democratic government may need and benefit from free market capitalism–using the services of well-equipped companies–is there a point at which a corporation might begin to take control of government and limit individual freedom and threaten individual security? How can a Direct Democracy address the separation of business and state?
On the one hand, government subsidies may “give companies money to do nothing,” e.g. farmers are paid to let fields go fallow or farmers are paid to grow more soy or corn, despite its low value on the market. On the other hand, the government supports the military industrial complex making wars and making the world less safe.
According to the World Trade Organization, a subsidy is a transfer of funds or a potential transfer of funds from a government or public body through a grant, loan, equity infusion, or loan guarantee; a government fiscal incentive such as a tax credit; a government-provided good or service other than general infrastructure; or a government payment to a funding mechanism or private body.
As of July 2014, Oil Change International estimates United States fossil fuel subsidies at $37.5 billion annually, including $21 billion in production and exploration subsidies. There are additional costs borne by taxpayers related to damage to the environmental or health impacts of the fossil fuel industry. Fossil fuel subsidies also include massive military expenditures to acquire and defend fossil fuel interests around the globe. Oil industry subsidies make it more difficult for green energy companies to succeed. Meanwhile government subsidies for the green energy sector was plagued by cronyism and tended to favor financially unsound companies, lobbyists and the private investments of politicians.