A Dictionary of American Free Enterprise

Arms Sales
A government jobs program (the lone acceptable government jobs program) working to deliver all the latest in U.S. defense industry hardware to all the international “good guys.”

A low-wage worker.

Bubble (Financial)
The artificial inflation of asset prices, which, although appearing to many of the “smartest people in the room” as if they are to continue rising indefinitely, ultimately come to crash with the inevitable popping of the bubble.

Business Cycle
Bubble recklessly inflated ® bubble catastrophically pops ® repeat.

An economic system based on the public financing of ruggedly individualistic private corporations.  Or, the greatest, most efficient economic system ever created, which is irreversible and not to be questioned — unless, of course, one hates freedom.

The ability of employers to slash wages and benefits, while also skirting environmental and safety standards, in order to keep pace with foreign competitors.

Everyone.  No one is to be recognized as anything but a consumer.

The source of all of life’s pleasures and an imperative for perpetuating the American way of life.  Also, the most patriotic of acts any American citizen can undertake at a time of crisis.1

Corporate Social Responsibility
Lipstick on a pig.


Crisis (Economic)
An opportunity to remove any built-up accumulations of democracy.

An indispensable social construction, necessary in order to ensure that a free people are kept in a permanent state of servitude to the high priests of finance.

The shifting of domestic industrial capacity to more profitable locations overseas.  The social problems associated with the American process of deindustrialization (namely, the creation of a surplus population of redundant labor) were ultimately resolved with the implementation of mass incarceration accompanying the escalation of the “war on drugs.”

Fire associates.

Economic Innovation
Creating machines to replace irksome rights- and wage-demanding employees.

Economic Recovery
The recuperation in value of elite portfolios in the wake of a bursting bubble.

An academic discipline used to provide a guise of scientific legitimacy to political decisions aimed at ensuring that the poor are kept in their proper place.

Gains in profits achieved through aggressive downsizing.

A recurring elite wet dream, wherein financial elites make money off nothing but more money, completely detached from the real economy and the unpleasantness thus entailed — specifically, having to compensate costly workers.

Flexible Hours
Hours allowing an employee the fun and freedom of never being able to know one’s work schedule week in and week out.  In addition, the hours allowing an employer the fun and freedom of keeping employee hours below those requiring the provision of costly benefits.

Free-Enterprise System
Capitalism, yet free from any of capitalism’s more negative connotations.2

Free Market
God’s greatest gift to mankind.

Free Trade
Ensuring that investor rights are protected across borders.

Full Employment
The point at which everyone both able and willing to work is employed.  In no way ideal, due to the burdens that the accompanying rise in worker wages would come to place on competitiveness.

That which must be maintained and expanded on a finite plant in perpetuity.

Independent Contractor
An employee unworthy of health care or other benefits.

Investment Climate
The degree to which labor has been beaten into submission in any particular locale.

Investor Rights
Corporate Rights.

Invisible Hand
The hand clenched tightly around the throat of labor.

An American messiah benevolently creating jobs out of a sheer moral imperative.

A constant strain on profits, and thus the one thing that all job-creators would much prefer to do without.

Labor Discipline
Instilling sufficient levels of fear throughout the workforce over things like getting fired; necessary so that job-creators will come to have the docile, productive, and low-cost labor force needed to maximize profits.

Labor Flexibility
The freedom that job-creators need to outsource and downsize at will in order to enhance profitability.

Labor Theory of Value
A rather sacrilegious and downright insulting theory, suggesting that the source of wealth is not educated and sophisticated job-creators, but rather the horde of dim-witted workers.

The absolutely vital process of conning consumers into purchasing items they neither need nor want.3

Market Failure
Why, God’s gift is infallible.

Market Forces
The impersonal forces apolitically brought to negatively bear on the lives of everyone not of the 1%.

Mass Unemployment
A necessary — useful, even — means through which runaway worker wages are reined in and uppity workers disciplined.

Stripping workers of all previously won gains (in wages, hours, seniority, workplace safety, etc.).

Sentence example: To overcome stagnating rates of growth, the economy must see continued modernization.

The ultimate goal of every competitiveness-loving job-creator.

Moral Hazard
A hazard that uniquely accompanies public expenditures on those lacking in “personal responsibility.”  Public expenditures on overleveraged Wall Street firms are a moral imperative.

Multinational Corporations
Cosmopolitan people.

That which must never be spoken.

A low-wage worker (except in a law firm or accounting firm).

In the public sector, the thing that must be cut in the name of “fiscal responsibility.”  In the private sector, the thing that must be cut in the name of profitability.

An increase in worker output; necessary so that job-creators can downsize and increase their profitability.4

The ability of job-creators to squeeze greater productivity out of their dwindling associates.

The right to work . . . for less — less union interference and less superfluous pay.  Not to be confused with the right to employment, which doesn’t exist.

Sanctity of Contract
The notion that parties entering into a contract must honor their obligation under that contract.  Sanctity of contract cannot be tampered with when it comes to executive bonuses, because, well, sanctity of contract.  When it comes to worker pensions, however, sanctity of contract must obviously yield to the imperative of “fiscal responsibility.”

Small Businesses
All NASDAQ and Dow Jones listed corporations.

Sound Economics
Tax relief for the rich, austerity for the “undeserving poor,” and fat government contracts for the defense establishment.

A prolonged flatlining of economic growth to be overcome by greater financialization and a further disciplining of labor.

Team Member
A low-wage worker.

A coalition of workers organizing through the job in an attempt to subvert democracy and ruin corporate competitiveness.

Wage Restraint
Keeping the insatiable greed of labor at bay.

The lifeblood of the American economy.  As President George W. Bush noted, “The best way to revitalize the economy is war.  The United States has grown stronger with war.  All the economic growth of the United States has been encouraged by the various wars.”5

A mostly empty drudgery that all must endure in order to fulfill the patriotic duty of buying every latest expendable product that one has been programmed by marketing to want.

Working Class
All those who earn their living without deriving their wealth from controlling the labor of others.  A non-existent class in the U.S., given that the nation is One Nation Under God.


1  In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, President Bush urged Americans to “Get down to Disney World in Florida.  Take your families and enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed.”  And then, as recession loomed in 2006, Bush again pleaded with Americans, stating: “I encourage you all to go shopping more.”

2  In 2010, the Texas Board of Education passed a deeply reactionary social studies curriculum, part of which saw the replacement of “capitalism” with “free-enterprise system” throughout course textbooks.  As one Board of Education member stated, “Let’s face it, capitalism does have a negative connotation.  You know, ‘capitalist pig!'” (James C. McKinley Jr., “Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change,” New York Times, 12 March 2010).

3  As John Bellamy Foster writes, “the United States in 2005 spent over $1 trillion, or around 9 percent of GDP, on various forms of marketing” (“The Ecology of Marxian Political Economy,” Monthly Review 63.4, September 2011).

4  “To be a productive worker is therefore not a piece of luck, but a misfortune” (Karl Marx, CapitalVol. 1, New York: Penguin, 1992: 644).

5  Attributed to Bush by Argentine President Nester Kirchner.  See South of the Border (Dir. Oliver Stone, 2009).

Ben Schreiner is the author of A People’s Dictionary to the ‘Exceptional Nation’.  He may be reached at bnschreiner@gmail.com or via his blog.