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The United States of Plutocracy

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Posted on Sep 8, 2009

By William Pfaff

The United States has for practical purposes been a plutocracy for some years now. American national elections usually function more or less correctly, except that they have become all but completely dominated by money.

The contributors of money to Senate and House campaigns are dominated by the source of that money, and the source of the money is the United States government, which directs it to them as a result of the contracts awarded to them by the House and Senate members whose election they support. The process is circular.

It would be cheaper for all concerned if business were directly to pay senators and representatives and eliminate the middlemen, the parasites who live on the surplus money in this system, paid for their ability to persuade both sellers and buyers (so to speak) that they are providing a service by facilitating the bargain. Elections now cannot take place without them.

There would seem to be two steps by which this rot has taken hold.

The first is change in the legislation originally concerned with the use by broadcasters of the airwaves, a public resource. In 1934 the Federal Communications Commission was established with authority over broadcasts. Being a politically balanced body, it decreed that the public service obligation of the broadcaster included the responsibility to provide balanced information. (The Fox News claim to be “fair and balanced” is a sneering reference to this, no doubt unintentional.)

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This rule applied to commentary on the news and to coverage of elections and acceptance of political advertising. There had to be substantial balance.

This arrangement was destroyed by the Reagan administration, which removed the FCC’s responsibility to enforce political “fairness” in radio and television network commentary and election coverage. The Republican-controlled Congress defeated efforts to reinstate it.

This change was challenged in 1976 by a congressional candidate who contended that he had been defeated by a candidate who spent on his campaign a sum enormously more than the plaintiff could spend. He contended that the Congress had imposed an unconstitutional money qualification upon election to federal office.

In one of the more notorious and deplorable decisions in the history of the Supreme Court, it ruled that all money spent on advertising in a political campaign is constitutionally protected free speech (Buckley v. Valeo, 1976).

Since then, the United States has been in a dizzying downward spin in the effective purchase of public office by candidates with the most wealthy supporters, usually business corporations. A perverse effect of the ruling, possibly unrecognized by the court, is that this indirectly required all candidates to adopt pro-business positions, or at least positions sufficiently inoffensive to business that they did not become the object of targeted campaigns to silence them.

On Wednesday the Supreme Court is to begin hearing arguments on the legitimacy of any restriction on direct electoral spending by business corporations.

Since 1908, business corporations have been prohibited from spending on federal elections. Unions have been banned from doing so since 1947. States have banned corporate campaign spending since the late 19th century. Today corporations and unions contribute indirectly through political action committees, limited in what can be contributed.

If corporations now were licensed to make direct payment from corporate funds to influence elections, the country would become a wholly owned subsidiary of American business. The government would no longer be able to act disinterestedly. In those circumstances, there would appear to be no possibility that legislation to reverse the effects of such a ruling could succeed.

I do not know whether this is something the majority of citizens wish to see happen. Probably, in these difficult times, the majority do not even know that it is happening. They will discover it later.

Visit William Pfaff’s Web site at www.williampfaff.com.

© 2009 Tribune Media Services, Inc.


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By John Gilbert, October 4, 2009 at 5:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Big banks got big bailouts worth trillions and what did they do with it? They paid their executives and insiders big bonuses and their shareholders dividends. They continue foreclosing on homes and mortgages. They continue raising service charges and interest rates. They profit by overcharging on overdrafts for those with little money left. They are not lending out money to those that need it and they are calling in loans bankrupting many businesses resulting in unemployment. They are buying out other banks and businesses making themselves even bigger to fail. They are getting richer at the tax payers expense while the national debt is getting worse and worse. They are playing a very bad and unfair game against almost everyone and they are getting away with it. Is this a democracy or a plutocracy?  Better yet it can be called a plutarchy.

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By Shenonymous, September 10, 2009 at 3:58 pm Link to this comment

It’d be da bludawgs, maybe?  Leefeller, if you make a lot of those signs,
you probably could make a buck or two. I know I’d buy one.  Cool.

For my money, the only one in the Democratic Party that has any blood in
motion in his veins is Howard Dean.  If the Democratic Party really needs to
create an argument for a liberal interpretation of the Framer’s intentions that is
more in line with the social evolution under the guise of democracy, more or
less as we have been defining it here, then there needs to be a leader that
knows how to direct shit (see StuartH’s post).  The Republicans nailed
Dean good to the firing squad wall time before last just because he gave a
celebration yelp!  Come on!  Now it is payback time and my favorite reciprocity
theory of tit for tat promises the best of outcomes.  I am going to check around
to see if there is any movement afoot to catapult Dean into a more politically
strong position.  He needs to be groomed for the 2016 election.  If you listen
to the most visible speakers for the Democratic Party, Dean’s is the only voice
that has tested conviction. 

Obama will probably get somethings done, and he probably will be re-elected,
but his presidency has been tainted by his administrative solutions for the
snakepit of financial despair Bush’s 8 years left for him to clean up.  I was just
reading about 2008 and the inexorable financial disaster that was on the
Republican runaway railroad.  Also the devastation of unemployment is
tattooed in the minds of the common population (MarthaA’s favorite
phrase) and that will not go away very easily, especially since it is projected
that unemployment will get worse and then level off in another year before
starting downward. Seems like the guvamint ought to get started creating jobs,
like the 6 million promised in the campaign.  Seems like WPA kind of jobs
could tide people over until the corporatocracy starts producing things in
America again.  And yes, I do know how to spell government, aw gee.

Perhaps there were few choices Obama has had, I don’t know and I don’t have
economic expertise, nor a law degree and it doesn’t seem like most of the
residents at TD do either give or take a few who do.

Even though, fortunately, I have decent employer health coverage and a livable
wage, it is not all glum, nevertheless, I am definitely part of the hoi polloi,
meaning not paid well, and I’m sick and tired of my life being constructed by
the plutocrats and corporatocrats, notice that one of the anagrams in that last
word (I know, I made it up, so what?) is RAT.  I don’t want to just identify the
problems, or sit around and talk about the problems in a meta sort of way, I
intend to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.  This is the era of reform, and Democrats,
need to take a cue from the energy shown by the extreme liberals, uh, so-
called progressives, they need to regenerate and get their asses in gear.  I
think asses and shit are related some how. No?  Tell me I’m wrong without
calling me that Frenchy word Poissarde, but if you tell me I’m wrong, also tell
me why.  There will be a mid-term congressional election next year and one
lost seat is a lost vote in Congress and that means a less successful life for the
people.

Night-Gaunt you are just a wellspring of wonderful odd mythological
information.

Good going richard roe, any ideas on how to get it to happen?

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By Leefeller, September 10, 2009 at 3:45 pm Link to this comment

For some reason, the Plutocracy reminds me of a large hand written sign I have seen in my travels, since I never know who or where I are. I will hand paint this and place it in my studio as a reminder.

Who Dog Dat
Crap on Da Lawn
Who Dog Dat

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By filosofe, September 10, 2009 at 3:31 pm Link to this comment

How could some big deal, some scandale extraordinaire, be drummed up out of this corporate contributions thing?  To make it less dry and Accounting 101-ified for the innumerate?  A scandale might turn the tide. Something very personal and to the chagrin some very famous revered figure, of course entailing lots of, comment-ons dit? soufflers-boulots?

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By richard roe, September 10, 2009 at 1:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The ONLY way the USA will ever have anything close to fair elections is twofold;

1) Follow the lead of Germany and ban voting machines.

2) Ban all private funding of election campaigns and provide public funding only.

Otherwise, it’s always going to be just more of the same; corporations putting their corrupt puppets in place, providing the illusion of participatory democracy.  Go back to sleep America.

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By Shenonymous, September 10, 2009 at 8:47 am Link to this comment

We have to see that moneyed corporations is like a sightless burrowing,
insectivorous mammal.  There is only one kind of caring that blind organisms,
as a general rule except for humans, have.  A similar argument could be made
for all non-human animals, but I don’t know that for a fact.  However, the
moneyed corporation kind of abbreviated caring is to and only to amass
money, which is why they are called moneyed corporations.  Moneyed
corporations, and that is all there really is so the word moneyed is superfluous,
is devoid of caring except for the exclusive purpose of accumulating money. 
That ought to be more than understood by rational human minds, but what
could be more than understanding?  What is beyond the faculty of reason?  It is
self-referent to understand what is more than understanding.  The word comes
from two other words “under” and stand.”  To acknowledge that one stands
below someone or something else, one is made receptive to obtain information
from it.  The thing gives information to integrate into one’s own introversion of
thinking.  So then, for something to be more than understood we are required
to look at the reference and the truth and being more than satisfied with the
conditions of knowledge.

How can we apply this notion to the way Americans are manipulated by
moneyed corporations and politics, using the mass noun politics to include
politicians from both major parties, and not excluding third (Independent) or
fourth (i.e., Greens) parties? 

I read some, not all of the 164 pages in Nancy Bordier’s published online book
“Re-Inventing Democracy:...,” as its length is daunting to read off the computer
or print out (doesn’t seem to have been published in hard form anywhere) but I
intend to read it carefully.  The book appears to give definition to the myriad of
problems from the failure of the government to the wresting away of the
people’s control of their own lives, then gives a protocol solution.  I am not
sure if it is riddled with sophism or if there is valid critique with the algorithm
of what can be done by ordinary people, so if anyone else takes on the chore of
trudging through, I would be appreciative of comments.

Seems Bordier was an unsuccessful political candidate in White Plains, NY but
being unsuccessful doesn’t necessarily discount any wisdom or credibility she
might have.  One can read a brief bio at the website she notes in her
comment, but I prefer to read other people’s assessment rather than one’s of
oneself. I think the reason is clear.

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By Leefeller, September 10, 2009 at 7:44 am Link to this comment

It would be interesting to know when the revolving door between corporations their lobbyists and Washington DC started and if it has been ongoing since the founding fathers,(which I suspect it has), this as opportunism seems to me lacking in integrity, accountability both something missing when it comes to political and corporate mentality. (hence todays republicanism?)

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By bogi666, September 10, 2009 at 7:23 am Link to this comment

mike789, the Supreme Court is about to decide that the Corporate Person can contribute, bribe,directly to political campaigns which will eliminate the middleman, the voters, form the electoral process. The logical progression will be to let the Corporate Person run as a candidate in its own right and then appoint a Corporate spokes person to attend Congressional sessions. This will eliminate a lot of corruption, campaign contributions, bribes and lobbyists as they could be hired to sit in the Congressional sessions on behalf of the corporation. This only makes sense. Then their is the Government SAFETY NET FOR THE CORPORATE WELFARE KINGS which has replaced the safety net for individuals, thanks to Clinton. The CORPORATE WELFARE KING SAFETY NET WAS ESTABLISHED BY Ronald Reagoon when he initiated the age of $100 billion budget deficits which are financed by government bonds with the proceeds DOLED OUT TO THE CORPORATE WELFARE KINGS and the principle and interest paid by individual taxpayers.Simultaneous with the CORPORATE WELFARE KINGS government SAFETY NET WAS THE reduction or elimination of CORPORATE TAXES.

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By Nancy Bordier, September 10, 2009 at 5:37 am Link to this comment

The plutocracy’s bailout of insolvent banks and financial institutions that engaged in fraudulent practices (i.e. the selling of worthless mortgage-backed securities) has put nearly $24 trillion on the line for past and future transfers of public money into private hands, according to the Special Inspector General.

The debt that this will create will provide a punishing lesson to the American people on how politics, economics and finance intersect in a plutocracy. Just paying the interest on this debt will place harsh burdens on generations of Americans struggling to live in greatly deteriorated living conditions.

The burden of the debt and the time it will take to discharge it will provide Americans who do not yet grasp the magnitude of the tragedy the motivation to figure out just what happened and how corporate special interests and elected officials corrupted by corporate money dismantled our democracy.

When combined with the bailout, the failure of the Democratic Obama administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress, like that of preceding Republican-controlled administrations and congresses, to create a single payer health care system like all the other advanced industrialized countries provides proof positive of the harm that a plutocracy can inflict on its citizens.

The only hope that I can foresee is the implementation of the Interactive Voter Choice System, which I describe in my book, Re-Inventing Democracy: How U.S. Voters Can Get Control of Government and Restore Popular Sovereignty in America, which can be read free online.

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By stcfarms, September 9, 2009 at 8:21 pm Link to this comment

Perhaps the people would be better off to bribe the criminals in Washington to
turn on their corporate masters. That would be insane of course, you cannot
outbid the corporations. The logical way to deal with this madness is to quit
trading your labor for their fiat money but that would require a level of
sacrifice that Americans are unwilling to accept. So until you are willing to do
what it takes you will be stuck with a system that is bleeding you dry. You
know what you gotta do pilgrim, too bad you lack the grit to do it.

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By KDelphi, September 9, 2009 at 8:18 pm Link to this comment

ocjim—thats ridiculous. The much ballyhooed Town Halls were not the problem. If Dems would get behind a single payer plan, it could pass. They will not. Blaming just GOP is a cop-out.

Obama said tonight that he had no problem with the medical industrial complex making money off of sick and dying people.

That is absurd if health care is a human right.

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By ocjim, September 9, 2009 at 4:21 pm Link to this comment

As Mr. Pfaff indicated, the US of Plutocracy is already here. If you are attentive you can see that it has captured our health care system and has a strangle hold on it—we are the ones being strangled. They own the resources, including the media.

The people have no time to court the modern world of media. The health care industry has an avalanche of resources (much taken from our hides), and the connections to cultivate the media, manufacture events and pay politicians to thwart reform, though perhaps slyly and covertly. A lot of corporate money is already in the media and a lot of executives see their future in supporting the corporate interest.

As a result, the modern world of Republican politics and corporate lobbyists have merged with the world of barroom rile and roil, the bump and grind of burlesque, circus side-shows and theater. They know what the media covers and it contains most of those elements.

All four merge in the town hall rancor of riled Republican dupes: there’s shouting Republican shills; there is burlesque where nothing is bared except fangs of anger and resentment; and for more theatrics and side shows, there is always Fox News and multitudinous right-wing radio shows with screamers who tout common messages of hate. 

The zoo has been assembled and new animals continue to be added. We had the birthers, the deathers, and the tea-baggers, all in the mixed genus, dupus-repug, relating to being duped to promote the agendas of private health care and Republicans while venting unreasoning fear, and the repugnance toward cited targets. With the billows of blow-hards like Rush Limbaugh, fear and loathing is stoked up, calling stooges to gatherings where the media will be.

Now let us explain and recap. The corporations that benefit from the actions of the dupes pay those on their payroll: the lobbyists who organize the dupes, the Repuglicans who promote the lies and loathing against their enemies, the Democrats. These same corporations either own or support the conservative network of right-wing voices on television and radio and, of course, have either ownership ties or common needs with the corporate media.

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By felicity, September 9, 2009 at 12:42 pm Link to this comment

As defined, corporations are legal fictions - nothing more than bundles of contractual agreements.  Might be a good idea to make them illegal fictions? 

Consider that in 1955 GM generated 3% of America’s entire gross national product - with size/wealth and therefore power like that, Congress is powerless.  Consider that after 2000 America’s financial sector was about one-half as big as the TOTAL profits of America’s non-financial firms - again, faced with the enormity of wealth involved, Congress was powerless not to bail it out.

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By Mike789, September 9, 2009 at 10:29 am Link to this comment

Corporations, esp. multinationals are super citizens.

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By firefly, September 9, 2009 at 10:06 am Link to this comment

If the Supreme Court facilitates Corporations’ ability to buy Congress and the Senate, it would be a disaster for the entire world, not only America.

But, there’s one encouraging thought. At least a spade will be a spade. By doing this, it will fully expose a custom that has been going on since the Reagan years under the charade of democracy.

If democracy is officially abolished in the United States, then the whole world will have something indisputable to fight for. Not even Republicans will stand for the end of democracy.

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By firefly, September 9, 2009 at 10:00 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If the Supreme Court facilitates Big Business’s ability to buy Congress and the Senate, it would be a tragedy for the entire world, not only America.

However, there’s one positive thought. At least a spade will be a spade. By doing this, it will fully expose a practise that has been going on since the Reagan years under the charade of democracy.

If democracy is officially abolished in the United States, then the whole world will have something indisputable to fight for. Not even Republicans will stand for the end of democracy.

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By Rodger Lemonde, September 9, 2009 at 9:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If corporations want rights they should be subject to
jail time and execution for their crimes just like
people. Money penalties are just passed along to their
consumers. Thus are no deterrent to continued
criminality. The sentence for Madoff was the most
promising bit of financial news I ever recall hearing.
Fill the jails with corporate miscreants rather than
black and Hispanic youths. Our current justice system
is long on system and short on justice.

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By Mike789, September 9, 2009 at 9:45 am Link to this comment

Listening to CSPAN Supreme Court.

It is so obvious, (and the whitewash is pealing off the fence), that corporations, esp. the multinationals, are really “super citizens),eg. [the majority of voters favor a public option, and it would appear to be their right to exact that possibility, but they are precluded to do so by “proportionate speech” disbursed to legislatures via lobbyists. This control of almost all forms of media, paper and electronics, was not anticipated by the Founding Fathers no matter how vast their intentions to protect their self interests.

who have the means to exact their interest not only for policy pertinent to the USA, but also in the far reaches of international markets.

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By Leefeller, September 9, 2009 at 9:38 am Link to this comment

Cain is Able, term limits have always seemed worthy to me, for professional politicians seem really to become nothing more than professional opportunists. In California the critics are citing term limits as the cause of California’s woes, of course blame and opportunism go hand in hand and eliminates any need for accountability and of course responsibility covered in the recent Obama kids speech.

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By Cain is Able, September 9, 2009 at 9:27 am Link to this comment

Sorry that is 70% GDP, not 705.  That would not be possible.

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By Cain is Able, September 9, 2009 at 9:25 am Link to this comment

KDelphi,

Last time I heard, the American consumer makes up 705 of GDP.  That is a pretty large number to use as weapon against the interests you would try to change.

Also, two very simple rules would take care of the “corporate corruption” as ya’ll like to say is the real problem.

1)Strict term limits so that politicians can no longer make a living off of the system.

2) Put a cap on money a candiate can spend trying to be elected.

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By Shenonymous, September 9, 2009 at 9:20 am Link to this comment

Pfaff says, The United States has for practical purposes been a plutocracy for
some years now. American national elections usually function more or less
correctly, except that they have become all but completely dominated by
money.

While that is probably in the proximity of truth, the small problem with that
emotionally charged portrayal is that although a plutocracy is one where the
wealthy control everything, the public in America use their buying power
because they cannot control themselves, then they are the nourishers of the
so-called plutocracy.  Plutocracy means government by the wealthy.  Sure,
maybe by wealthy people, and we all know how much money the politicians
make and who are paid by lobbyists and campaign treasurechests filled up, but
the people, the common people are the ones to spend their money.  Middle
class and poor class people.  Even their meager incomes buy stuff.  Class in
this case means a certain income level.  In spite of the hidden taxes they pay,
sales tax, income taxes both nationally and state, property taxes, and prices of
non-essential goods they want and will have, and on and on and on. Everyday I
see students who are wearing $150 athletic shoes, not only middle class but
those allegedly in the poor income class of people.  And they all have cell
phones and blackberries, that have monthly phone charges.  So explain that,
will you?

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By Folktruther, September 9, 2009 at 9:12 am Link to this comment

the main enemy of the American people is the American power structure.  The Plutocracy.  With the initiation of the neoliberal War on Terrorism, it has initated carnage capitalism, instigated by war abroad and a police state at home.  It his continuing to dispower the American population, this being a typical example.  As TAO and KDelphi say, it merely streamlines the process. 

To oppose american power, which we are taught from childhood to identify with, it is necessary to ally with the people of other homelands who are opposing their power structures.  It is especially important to fragment the American-led Western tradition, which is alreeady occuring. And particularly the Anglo states, US, Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zeaaland.  The idea is military isolationism, withdrawing US bases and spending the wasted military money on the American people.

this will require the historical inculcation of an earthperson worldview incompatible with the American and Western worldview.  The Western worldview has legitimated the homicidal racism that forms the background preconditioning to carnage capitalism.  It will be more easily instilled in other homelands, but the US can provide a starting point.

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By Mike789, September 9, 2009 at 8:43 am Link to this comment

For once, ostensibly, all the commentarians are sounding off from the same sheet of music here. Congratulations. We need to continue our efforts to debunk the burlesque, the whitewash, and the bait and switch strategies that promulgate disinformation. How did it come to pass that a corporation be considered on a par with a person? A clear distinction has to be made between Free speech and Proportonate speech.

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By bogi666, September 9, 2009 at 8:31 am Link to this comment

Leefeller, I live in Georgia and civics is not taught in schools here the evidence being elected politicians here along with voting fraud, some 50,000 uncounted votes in 2008 according to Greg Palast the investigative reporter. The fascist rep. Paul Broun is a shill for the insane. He whines about the bogeyman “socialism” and two block from his North Georgia campaign HQ, in Tiger Georgia, there is a house with a full size NAZI flag flying on the outside which is no concern to him because I’ve emailed him asking if it is his country home. Silence can be construed as an admission of guilt, in this case anyway. You’re right the national politicians are happy to have a 6th grade level of education for Americans and want to even lower that. I especially liked it when Bush was pushing science and math for student, subjects which he never took or was required to take.

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By Eso, September 9, 2009 at 8:20 am Link to this comment

An interesting perspective, one that reflects the true course of not only the U.S., but our planet in general.

I am not looking forward to the next stage of the occupation (I hear echo in my ears: “Oh, the humanity… the humanity!” from the zepellin catastrophe) by the imploded populist bunch ruling the world de facto. Nevertheless, I am trying to think my way out of these financial times and think forward.

At least 4.8 billion people of our 6.8 billion are unsustainable. I would gladly stay in the countryside to weather this out, but most of the forests have been cut to speed “growth”, and I may not have enough firewood to keep warm.

I note that in Europe farmers once used to live above their cowsheds, because heat rises. Plant plenty of cabbage.

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By Hulk2008, September 9, 2009 at 7:55 am Link to this comment

“Rollerball” is our future.  The very-wealthy merely permit us serfs to provide for them - crumbs from the masters’ table.

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By Leefeller, September 9, 2009 at 7:19 am Link to this comment

Oldog, could it be educated masses are not in the cards, especially educated enlightened masses, for then the smoke and mirrors would be useless and would expose the string pullers to accountability?  The system is stacked against the people, many commentators here address and connect the dots of the so well manipulated formula.

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By George, September 9, 2009 at 4:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Excuse me—but WHY am I seeing an advert for “Obamacare: Stop Him” from NEWSMAX in the middle of this story? (Newsmax makes Fox look almost fair…er…hahaha…OK, that’s silly, but they’re a no holds barred craphole of rightwing propaganda).

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By oldog, September 9, 2009 at 4:16 am Link to this comment

Education would negate the advertising power of special
interest groups over the populace, as well as change
the US into a real ‘superpower’.

We have the technology to offer free higher education
to everyone at minimal cost. Why not use it?

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By bogi666, September 9, 2009 at 3:59 am Link to this comment

Leefeller, the Plutocrats have commandeered Socialism for themselves, they know a good thing and in true American form “screw everyone else, I’ve got mine”. America, where it’s SOCIALISM FOR THE CORPORATE WELFARE KINGS and the wealthy and capitalism for the working classes. The most obvious example is the federal deficit spending,as implemented by Reagoon, who initiated deficits into the $100’s of billions. Financed with government bonds, the proceeds of which are doled out to the CORPORATE WELFARE KINGS with the interest and principle paid by individual taxpayers. Simultaneously, Reagoon cut the corporate tax rates, to reduce their tax burden while reaping the benefits of CORPORATE SOCIALISM. Reagoon was a great con man he convinced Americans that debt is prosperity and is believed to this day.REAGOON ensured that the CORPORATE WELFARE KINGS HAVE A SOCIAL SAFETY NET paid for by the individual taxpayers.

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, September 8, 2009 at 11:50 pm Link to this comment

Unfortunately, I think you are all right.  I keep reminding myself that the average mentality of America is somewhere around 6th grade.  We see this clearly in the outrage (genuine but contrived) at town hall meetings over the public option.  Outrage over a plan that would actually save them money and make their health care better but they read some lies or listen to the paid corporate shills (Beck and Limbaugh for example) and believe everything.  They have no critical analysis skills nor the ability to use the power of the internet to verify what they are told (if it isn’t a porn site, why even bother to check).

Corporations have been working for centuries to find the correct formula for dominating our government.  They make runs at the problem and then analyze the results.  They influence some legislation which changes the formula and try again.  It would appear they have finally found the right combination of influence, laws and political parties so they can get what they want.  Unfortunately, as I have said all too often, corporate management is also stupid in that they are sawing off the branches they sit on.  But they still have the next quarter focus which caused the financial meltdown and the renewal of the same behavior after being bailed out.  However, being multi-national organizations, they no longer have any loyalty to their country or its ideals.  They believe that they can just move to another country if we fail.  I’ve heard rumors that AIG was intending to move to China since much of their business was there.

We who are left to deal with the disaster coming our way need to start working together and lay out the framework to rebuild our nation.  What should the new America look like?  How should we renew our sacred documents so they provide protection against these predators?  How do we rebuild so the Utopian promise our founding fathers envisioned can actually be realized?  We must not wait until things disintegrate too far or it will be much more difficult to plot a reasonable direction.  And, we must create an effective counterbalance to the extremism of the far right which would create an evangelical theocracy to force their distorted and obscene religion on all of us.

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By KDelphi, September 8, 2009 at 10:35 pm Link to this comment

It has already happened—this will only give it legitimacy.

The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” : John Kenneth Galbraith

This would include “both” parties.

Shift—as with the banks, the govt will just give then your money anyway—Maybe theyll get a govt contract. The idea that “just not shopping there” holds any weight anymore, when you have absolutely no idea where any given product is grown, processed, packaged, etc is just ludicrous.
“CHOICE” my ass.

Try not buying ANYTHING from corporate ‘Merka for a week.

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By Flex Nasty B.I.G., September 8, 2009 at 10:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We libertarians see the same thing happening, and
agree that it is a circular process.  Legislators
dole out special treatment to preferred companies,
who in turn dole out money to legislators.  Both
democracy and capitalism get trampled on in the
process.

The term we use to describe it is “rent-seeking,”
which basically means “seeking of unfair advantage
through the legislative process.” 

We view rent-seeking as a scummy and abhorrent, but
nonetheless natural response of companies who are
trying to maximize their profits.  If they can spend
$560,000 on lobbying and/or bribes, and that results
in a law being passed which brings in $3.7 million in
profit, of course many of them are going to do it. 

*As long as legislation controls the flow of money,
money will respond by controlling the flow of
legislation - because there is a built-in financial
incentive for it to do so.*

Our solution is to move most economic decisions
outside of the political sphere, where rent-seeking
cannot occur.  If legislators simply aren’t ABLE to dole out favors, we’ll have a more level playing field in the economy.

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By Shift, September 8, 2009 at 9:48 pm Link to this comment

The way to weaken them is simply not to buy their corporate stuff.  No sales, no money, no influence.

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William W. Wexler's avatar

By William W. Wexler, September 8, 2009 at 8:51 pm Link to this comment

Ever since I was old enough to understand what the adults were talking about I realized they were complaining about the same government that I was supposed to revere.

Today we have professionals who do that for us, and here’s the result:  scandal fatigue.  We have become desensitized to stories like this one, which is important, because of the dipstick antics of our pop icons, politicians, and some of Mr. Pfaff’s colleagues.  We’re so worn out that politicians have figured out that they can do anything on a Friday and it will have been forgotten by Monday.

Sad.  I have tried off and on to keep a running scorecard on my “Outrage of the Week” page.  Shit, I can’t even begin to keep up.  I’d have to hire a couple of people just to maintain that page.

-Wexler

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, September 8, 2009 at 7:43 pm Link to this comment

A most favorite topic for this poster.

It may be the Plutocracy has always existed, even programed by our founding fathers, maybe the difference is elite of then compared to special interests of present? As of late it seems much more blatant and disregardful of the people, even in their faces. Yes the full monty seems apparent. People pretending to look the other way, may not be the issue, for it seems more as if people beleiving in something that never really existed causes people to accept lies as truths and what is happening behind the curtain as accepted and normal.

Appearances are hard work, but someone has to do it, though it dost delve into coffers which can be used to buy pleasantries a villa in the Alps close to that Swiss Bank account or the so necessary private jet to jaunt to Monte Carlo and count ones money on occasion.

Unions, National Medical care, Social Security, Schools, the Military or police and many other social programs, seem allto be concepts of socialism when one gets down to it, but the Plutocracy has cherry picked what will be called socialism and entertained as socialism via it’s clout called money. So our country spends or should I say wastes money on stupid wars for the live Chess games which seem most important for many reasons the elite decided reasons to play.

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LostHills's avatar

By LostHills, September 8, 2009 at 7:09 pm Link to this comment

You know what really hurts? In every election the newscasters report every day on how much money each candidate is raising and writing off the candidates who fall behind in the money raising race. These newscasters are broadcasting over airwaves that belong to us, and their bosses are are charging the candidates millions for air time to get their message out and “compete.” They are also giving millions back to their favored candidates. And what’s the source of all this money? The corporate advertisers. Who’s gonna turn this around—the winning candidate who took money from the advertiser and the broadcaster both, and won by out spending his rival? If you believe in democracy, get angry….

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G.Anderson's avatar

By G.Anderson, September 8, 2009 at 5:52 pm Link to this comment

Yes, the Plutocracy runs things, and uses it’s money to set up the tricks and the traps of the economy.

The Plutocracy, makes all the real decisions, and hides behind the smoke screen of government, and the disinformation agents it hires in the media.

They write the laws, that their men in congress pass, and they deny the public any hope of real change now when we need it most.

Manipulation in the name of greed, and more greed, and power and more power, the constitution and the bill of rights are not even a memory to them.

And as anyone who has worked for the corporations knows, they value slavery above all, their system creates it, but since they control what the words mean, they call it something else.

Their greed, and stupidity is destroying our economy, and putting them out of business. They would be done for already, if they hadn’t come crying to big Daddy government with their hands out, after decades of blaming big government for everything. Unfortunatly for all of us, our country will be hollowed out by the time they are through.

You just can’t fix stupid, and there’s a lot of stupid that needs fixing.

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By TAO Walker, September 8, 2009 at 4:51 pm Link to this comment

Well….in for a penny, in-for a pounding.  Keeping-up smokescreens and trick-mirrors is one of those expenses “business” will be glad to dispense-with….appearances be-damned, full monty ahead!

Maybe the “good news” is that theamericanpeople won’t be able to pretend anymore they don’t know what’s going-on “behind the curtain.”  Or would that be the “bad news”?

HokaHey!

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