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How the Rich Subverted the Legal System

Posted on Oct 25, 2011
Paul Weiskel (CC-BY)

By Glenn Greenwald, TomDispatch

(Page 2)

Not only have the overwhelming majority of Americans long acquiesced to vast income and wealth disparities, but some of those most oppressed by these outcomes have cheered it loudly. Americans have been inculcated not only to accept, but to revere those who are the greatest beneficiaries of this inequality.

In the 1980s, this paradox—whereby even those most trampled upon come to cheer those responsible for their state—became more firmly entrenched. That’s because it found a folksy, friendly face, Ronald Reagan, adept at feeding the populace a slew of Orwellian clichés that induced them to defend the interests of the wealthiest. “A rising tide,” as President Reagan put it, “lifts all boats.” The sum of his wisdom being: it is in your interest when the rich get richer.


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Implicit in this framework was the claim that inequality was justified and legitimate. The core propagandistic premise was that the rich were rich because they deserved to be. They innovated in industry, invented technologies, discovered cures, created jobs, took risks, and boldly found ways to improve our lives. In other words, they deserved to be enriched. Indeed, it was in our common interest to allow them to fly as high as possible because that would increase their motivation to produce more, bestowing on us ever greater life-improving gifts.

We should not, so the thinking went, begrudge the multimillionaire living behind his 15-foot walls for his success; we should admire him. Corporate bosses deserved not our resentment but our gratitude. It was in our own interest not to demand more in taxes from the wealthiest but less, as their enhanced wealth—their pocket change—would trickle down in various ways to all of us. 

This is the mentality that enabled massive growth in income and wealth inequality over the past several decades without much at all in the way of citizen protest. And yet something has indeed changed.  It’s not that Americans suddenly woke up one day and decided that substantial income and wealth inequality are themselves unfair or intolerable. What changed was the perception of how that wealth was gotten and so of the ensuing inequality as legitimate.

Many Americans who once accepted or even cheered such inequality now see the gains of the richest as ill-gotten, as undeserved, as cheating.  Most of all, the legal system that once served as the legitimizing anchor for outcome inequality, the rule of law—that most basic of American ideals, that a common set of rules are equally applied to all—has now become irrevocably corrupted and is seen as such.

While the Founders accepted outcome inequality, they emphasized—over and over—that its legitimacy hinged on subjecting everyone to the law’s mandates on an equal basis. Jefferson wrote that the essence of America would be that “the poorest laborer stood on equal ground with the wealthiest millionaire, and generally on a more favored one whenever their rights seem to jar.” Benjamin Franklin warned that creating a privileged legal class would produce “total separation of affections, interests, political obligations, and all manner of connections” between rulers and those they ruled. Tom Paine repeatedly railed against “counterfeit nobles,” those whose superior status was grounded not in merit but in unearned legal privilege.

After all, one of their principal grievances against the British King was his power to exempt his cronies from legal obligations. Almost every Founder repeatedly warned that a failure to apply the law equally to the politically powerful and the rich would ensure a warped and unjust society.  In many ways, that was their definition of tyranny.

Americans understand this implicitly. If you watch a competition among sprinters, you can accept that whoever crosses the finish line first is the superior runner. But only if all the competitors are bound by the same rules: everyone begins at the same starting line, is penalized for invading the lane of another runner, is barred from making physical contact or using performance-enhancing substances, and so on.

If some of the runners start ahead of others and have relationships with the judges that enable them to receive dispensation for violating the rules as they wish, then viewers understand that the outcome can no longer be considered legitimate. Once the process is seen as not only unfair but utterly corrupted, once it’s obvious that a common set of rules no longer binds all the competitors, the winner will be resented, not heralded.

That catches the mood of America in 2011.  It may not explain the Occupy Wall Street movement, but it helps explain why it has spread like wildfire and why so many Americans seem instantly to accept and support it.  As was not true in recent decades, the American relationship with wealth inequality is in a state of rapid transformation.

It is now clearly understood that, rather than apply the law equally to all, Wall Street tycoons have engaged in egregious criminality—acts which destroyed the economic security of millions of people around the world—without experiencing the slightest legal repercussions. Giant financial institutions were caught red-handed engaging in massive, systematic fraud to foreclose on people’s homes and the reaction of the political class, led by the Obama administration, was to shield them from meaningful consequences. Rather than submit on an equal basis to the rules, through an oligarchical, democracy-subverting control of the political process, they now control the process of writing those rules and how they are applied.

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By Harold May, April 4, 2012 at 2:51 am Link to this comment

When we have a justice system that seems to favour the rich more than the poor, we also end up with lawyers that find it more worthwhile to be on the side of the wealthy. This creates a situation where an average citizen might find it hard to get a good lawyer to fight for their grievances, whereas a wealthy person can have access to the best lawyers. With such a jarring difference of treatment between the rich and poor, there’s no wonder there is so much passion behind the Wall Street protests.

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By fuzzydbear, October 29, 2011 at 5:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

why now? Because the neanderthals have BULLIED the
innocent, naive, deniers! TAX STRIKE! Stop paying for
them to destroy us all!!!! We pay their salaries,
health care and pensions and every single agency we pay
to protect us and our freedoms, Use OUR money to
destroy us! FORGET that! TAX STRIKE! Ron Paul will
restore our freedom!

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By EmileZ, October 29, 2011 at 3:16 am Link to this comment

The police are really having their way with that poor woman in the photo aren’t they.

I suppose that is what’s meant by “copping a feel”.

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By kazy, October 28, 2011 at 4:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I guess our Founding Fathers did not have the fortune to heed Honore de Balzac’s famous warning: BEHIND EVERY GREAT FORTUNE LIES A GREAT CRIME.

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By cpb, October 28, 2011 at 3:52 pm Link to this comment

“So, tell me that Jobs is NOT any different than Thomas H Lee Partners and tell me why.”


I don’t disagree with you.  In terms of productivity or benefit to society, as it were, Jobs comes out on top in that comparison.  However…

My point is that Jobs did not do what he did in a vacuum.  One of the reasons that taxes on wealth is justified is for a fair return, to society, for the contribution(s) to the generation of the wealth that should be recognised as being wholly outside of any particular actions/insights/innovations taken by any single individual.  Gates and Jobs both had a lot going for them, benefitted greatly from privledge, timing, the work of others, the phase of the market for such technology etc..

That anybody, for any reason, is able to amass such wealth is, to me, indicative of a fundamental problem with the rules governing the economic system.  Nobody, no single individual, can possibly make such a contribution to society so as to justifiably extract such fortune to themselves.  The system allows it, and we are told this is simply the profit motive at work.  Well there is a lot more going on than the simple machinations learned in economics-101.

I don’t have a problem with the profit motive itself.  I understand the contribution such a motive can bring to innovation and production.  But common sense alone, stripped of the dogma of the status quo, will leave your average person wondering if such can ever, truly, be fair.  This strikes me as the only moral and reasonable reaction to the type of inequality that we are talking about here. 

Jobs is just an easy guy to point to, but it isn’t about the guy, it’s about where he is standing.

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By Inherit The Wind, October 28, 2011 at 3:24 pm Link to this comment

I respectfully disagree.  You may not LIKE the products Jobs developed, and may not like them the way Marshall McLuhan didn’t like television, but the fact remains that he brought new and innovative products to market THE PEOPLE WANTED TO BUY and made millions doing so.  Jobs is the “winner” by merit.

OTOH, Thomas H Lee Partners BOUGHT a great, innovative company, Simmons Beautyrest, and proceeded to borrow vast amounts against it, that they THEN used to “pay back” THL for buying the company.  They THEN forced an employee stock purchase of the over-borrowed company with the threat of the employees losing their jobs (Sounds like Enron, right?) and then walked away leaving the employee owners with little time to bankruptcy, at which time a bottom feeder swept in to buy the asset at a fraction of their value.  And the employees lost their jobs AND their savings!  What merit is in THAT? 

So, tell me that Jobs is NOT any different than Thomas H Lee Partners and tell me why.

Understand, I don’t LIKE most of Apple’s products, and I hated Jobs’ idiosyncratic ways of doing things that FREQUENTLY were far from the best but suited HIM (like non-replaceable batteries and no “off” switch when the damn things need a re-boot).  I also hated that he HATED any competition with almost a psychopathic intensity—swearing to kill of Android if it took every cent of Apple’s products.

But if I have to choose who is adding value to society between Jobs and THL, it’s obviously Jobs.  Jobs produced stuff. THL produced bankruptcies and unemployment.

BTW, I never admired Iaccoca, thinking him all sizzle and no steak (“K-Cars!”)

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By BrooklynDame, October 28, 2011 at 9:46 am Link to this comment

Is there anyone who can, at this point, deny that the system is rigged against the

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By The Blog Fodder, October 28, 2011 at 9:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

At exactly the same time that the nation’s elites enjoy legal immunity even for egregious crimes, ordinary Americans are being subjected to the world’s largest and one of its harshest penal states, under which they are unable to secure competent legal counsel and are harshly punished with lengthy prison terms for even trivial infractions.

Sounds like Victor Hugo’s France.  Les Miserables are finally taking to the streets.  Storm the Bastille and all power to the people!  Liberty, Equality, Fraternaty!

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By The awakening has begun, October 28, 2011 at 5:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There are many reasons why it has become very complicated and difficult for me to be able to go “Occupy” any city.  Reasons such as children and a family and a job that i cannot not afford to take time away from.  Of course, some of those reasons (like the low paying job) are by design of the system that traps me in place. 

All that said, EVEN I am watching and sympathizing and considering when I may soon be ready to go Occupy, thereby taking the chance that I might get arrested or worse.  Whether I go or not, only time will tell, but others are, MANY others, and MANY more will.  The movement is gaining in momentum and is unstoppable.

The Awakening is unstoppable.  We don’t need the government, we don’t need the CEOs, we only need each other!!

Who’s streets?  OUR streets!

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By James J Peterson, PhD, October 27, 2011 at 10:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Remember “The Emperor’s New Clothes?” Somewhere in the story, the big folk asked “What do you think of the Emperor’s new clothes?” Wasn’t it a child who said something like “Why, the Emperor has no clothes”? I agree with Chris’ assessment in Time Square in a recent interview with Occupy TVNY. These people in New York are just brilliant in refusing to point out the obvious in excrutiatingly benal detail. Why dignify a feigned or even patholical puzzlement at a “lack of specific demands”? We may just as well say “We hold that ‘the sky is blue’ as self evident”. I showed Chris’ interview with CBC to my 10 year old and he could plainly see who the more calm, reasonable, and logical human being was. Congratulations! Reason must and eventually will prevail if our species is to survive.

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By charles maraganis sir, October 27, 2011 at 8:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Pres.Obama is a likable man,good morals,great family man etc.However as a leader he is in over his head.Like most liberals he gives assistance to the screwing of the 99er’s.He lies to us just like the hard right.But he does it with a velvet glove on!

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By PeopleOVERgreed, October 27, 2011 at 1:36 pm Link to this comment

I believe once the Feds and in particular the SEC began the precedence of fines without admission of guilt. The ability for Wall Street and Corporate America to calculate the risk (fine) and reward (profit) as the norm of doing business with the USA, the business model of screw the people, environment and reap the profit was set in stone.

As we’ve seen all to often. Neither the office of the President or Congress is willing to enforce accountability with major campaign donors. Sure the odd lone offender makes for a senational headline, but, no way is Goldman Sachs for example who bet against their own clients held to ethical standards where the fine is substantially less than the reward. Which by the way partially funds political campaigns. The no admission of guolt is an added bonus against civil lawsuits as well (don’t get me started about the civil justice system).

So with a wink and a nod, the circle of legalized corruption is complete in America as we descend further and further into a corporate state. One only has to look at the SCOTUS Citizens United ruling and Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife Jenny Thomas involvement in politics to realize the wheels have indeed come off the democracy cart in the United States.

If Texas Governor Rick Perry can get away with executing potentially innocent death row inmates for political expediency, Wall Street can crash the mortgage industry and BP can pollute our shores while no one is stopped or punished, you know the American justice system has in fact been hijacked. Considering the SCOTUS has zero written ethics rules governoring conduct beyond so-called honor, I’d say the United states is in BIG trouble.

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By Donald Lazere, October 27, 2011 at 10:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Glenn, you are badly mistaken in claiming that Jefferson supported an American
aristocracy.  The key document here is his letter to John Adams in 1813, often
titled “The Natural Aristocrat,” which refutes Adams’ defense of hereditary
aristocracy.  There as elsewhere Jefferson advocated universal, free (“at the
public expense”) education at all levels through the university.

Although his plan had not been widely implemented locally or nationally—and
has never been, alas––he said of it: “Worth and genius would thus have been
sought out from every condition of life, and completely prepared by education
for defeating the competition of wealth and birth for public trusts. . . .  This . .
. would have raised the mass of the people to the high ground of moral
respectability necessary to their own safety, and to orderly government; and
would have completed the great object of qualifying them to select the veritable
aristoi, for the trusts of government, to the exclusion of the pseudalists [the
pseudo-aristocracy of inherited privilege].”

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By prisnersdilema, October 27, 2011 at 8:15 am Link to this comment

Behind every great fortune lies a great crime - Balzac

When I look at a wealthy man, all I see is a man awaiting indictment, for a crime he has committed, that hasn’t been either bought off, or discovered yet.

Do you think the wealthy are innocent, that they have gotten their riches,  by earning them?

No the wealthily are always suing each other, using committees of lawyers to steal from each other.

Do you think that Wall Street makes a profit honestly?  Or is it by using the control of government for creative purposes, to make them even richer.

That’s what deregulation was all about.

So now they have decided that your job has to go, that your children’s future has to go, just so they can have more money.

And when it’s all gone, you know exactly what will happen.

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By iviewit, October 27, 2011 at 5:14 am Link to this comment

also this troop withdrawal is to end-around the US TROOPS and rules of engagement and instead put CONTRACT KILLERS FROM XE/BLACKWATER HALLIBURTON, ETC. in IRAQ to replace our TROOPS and all FUNDED through the STATE DEPARTMENT and headed by Hillary Clinton who laughs at death and wholly unaccounted for in VIOLATION OF TITLE 18 and the CONSTITUTION and GENEVA etc…  Don’t be fooled by their lies, check it out.

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By iviewit, October 27, 2011 at 5:08 am Link to this comment

Come on, YOU MUST DEMAND A RICO AND RECOVER whereby we recover the 14-40 TRILLION STOLEN from the PEOPLE. To move an agenda of going forward regulations and legislation and breakups is to allow them to keep the profits from their crimes. We must have LAW & ORDER returned and NO ONE, not former or current PRESIDENTS, PRIME MINISTERS, JUDGES, BANKERS, PROSECUTORS, ETC. acting above the law and free of prosecution. Instead of breakup the companies, seize them for FRAUD and take back all their ILL GOTTEN GAINS and put all this money plus their ILLEGAL BONUSES in the PUBLIC COFFERS and we will fund all of our government spending, entitlements will be funded, 47 TRILLION estimated stolen is a lot of money for good things and jobs and the only ones needing bailouts will be those found guilty of ECONOMIC TERRORISM, ANOTHER WAR CRIME (see Geneva), bail from CLUB FED PRISON. I am not again the 1% who got their the hard way, hard work, I am against the 1% who got there from ripping people off in CONTROLLED CONSPIRATORIAL DEMOLITIONS OF WORLD MARKETS and have bought off gov to protect themselves and are trying to get GET OUT JAIL FREE CARDS from PROSECUTORS.. These CRIMINALS want fines not time and WE THE PEOPLE SHOULD NOT ALLOW THIS OR WE HAVE LOST OUR NATION AND ITS VALUES. “Analysis of Financial Terrorism in America: Over 1 Million Deaths Annually, 62 Million People With Zero Net Worth, As the Economic Elite Make Off With $46 Trillion” by David DeGraw, founder and editor of The following report includes adapted excerpts from David DeGraw’s book, “The Road Through 2012: Revolution or World War III.” Release Date: 9.28.11 August 10,

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By cpb, October 26, 2011 at 9:53 pm Link to this comment

“I might have thought Steve Jobs was a prick but I don’t begrudge him a cent of his millions.  He brought us iPhones and iPods and iPads and iTunes and Pixar.”


A common misconception that is predicated on having been indoctrinated into the myth of the meritocracy throughout early life.  One comes to realise the meritocracy, broadly speaking, is BS, but yet we still get suckered in with the ‘hero’ examples like Iacocca, Gates, Jobs etc..

Jobs made some outstanding contributions, that is certain.  Contributions, in the long run, to who exactly? an interesting question.  What, in the long run, will the iPad mean? 

I don’t cucking fare.  Whooop dee do.  Nice piece of technology dude.

Not to take away from what he accomplished, but just bringing it back to earth for a moment.  TV turned out, in the long run, to be more of a control technology than an enabling technology.  The internet is akin to TV squared.  The ability to access the internet, remotely, from anywhere, on a cute little tablet thingamajig…  wonderful!!  I can download a book and start reading the first chapter before I have to think about my bus stop!  Wow how life has improved!  Neat.  Swell.  Big phreaking deal.

Back to Jobs.  Jobs was The Guy, Right Time, Right Place, Right Ideas.  Good for him.  He’d be nothing but for the history that preceded him..the research, the science, the innovations etc..  Such forms the basis for arguments regards wealth distribution and taxation that early philosophers and societal commentators once engaged in. 

I don’t care how brilliant you are or what profound historical shifts you may be a part of.  The level of wealth inequality that we have been conditioned to accept, based on supposed brilliance etc.. is so entirely shy of the mark. 

If you think there is any justification for the annual earnings of fellows such as Jobs / Gates etc.., their relative share of taxes (philanthropy aside), then you clearly continue to drink the kool-aid. 

Occupy The Planet.


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By tolstoy, October 26, 2011 at 2:56 pm Link to this comment

Break up the criminal banks. Outlaw lobbying. Control the MIC and policy to spread war as an industry. Make government representative of the people instead of special interests. American History 101.

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By Marian Griffith, October 26, 2011 at 2:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

—-Goldman Sachs doesn’t make the law, the government does so take your beef with the govt otherwise it sounds suspiciously like you’re an Obama supporter.—-

Actually, they do. How many of these advisors and such that each president needds do you think are either career politicians deeply indebted to the big corporations of managers of these corporations ‘on loan’ to Washington (officially to inform government of the concerns of the corporations but in reality to shape policy to benefit the corporation) and who, if succesful in rewriting the laws to benefit their previous boss, will be rewarded with high position and multi million dollar bonusses on return.

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By Not One More!, October 26, 2011 at 1:10 pm Link to this comment

“It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”  ~ Sinclair Lewis - Peace Quotes

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By felicity, October 26, 2011 at 12:40 pm Link to this comment

By hard work, frugality, temperance, and a
‘Christian’ way of living life, anybody can realize
the American dream - in other words, get rich.  Bull
shit.  But one of the reasons the great unwashed
haven’t complained (perhaps until now) is the belief
that one day they’ll make it, be among the privileged
few - so burdening those few with taxes, fore
instance, may come back to bite them in their butts
when they’re part of them.

Hard to believe that so many of us could be so
bamboozled for so many years, but we have been.

(And, by the way, a high tide has never raised sunken

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By Hacksaw, October 26, 2011 at 11:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

For those who refuse to let go of the left/right, Republican/Democrat format it will come upon them like a thief in the night. When the realization of what is happening finally hits them they may go insane. When the radical left and the radical right wake up one morning and see that together they only constitute twenty or thirty percent of the population and the other seventy or so percent has turned against them both, thus making them strange bed fellows, their collective head may just explode. When their tried and true tactic of playing one part of the vast middle off against another part doesn’t work anymore what will they do?

The author has clearly exposed one aspect of the awakening of the American middle, the aspect of folks coming to the idea that there is a tiered justice system in this country and has been for a long time. That along with a coming to the ideas of unequal opportunity financially, educationally, and this being a system based on merit, is leading to a rending of the social contract that once embodied the USA.

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By John M, October 26, 2011 at 10:26 am Link to this comment

Class is not a fixed designation in this country. We
are an upwardly mobile society with a lot of movement
between income groups.
The Treasury Department’s latest study on income
mobility in America found that during the ten-year
period starting in 1996, roughly half of the
taxpayers who started in the bottom 20 percent had
moved up to a higher income group by 2005.
Meanwhile, half of all taxpayers ended up in a
different income group at the end of ten years. Many
moved up, and some moved down, but economic growth
resulted in rising incomes for most people over this
Another recent survey of over 500 successful
entrepreneurs found that 93 percent came from middle-
class or lower-class backgrounds. The majority were
the first in their families to launch a business.

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By Inherit The Wind, October 26, 2011 at 9:23 am Link to this comment

What the author takes 3 pages to say is that we are told we have a meritocracy, when we clearly do NOT have a meritocracy.  I might have thought Steve Jobs was a prick but I don’t begrudge him a cent of his millions.  He brought us iPhones and iPods and iPads and iTunes and Pixar.

OTOH, Carly Fiorino is a nasty cunt and I begrudge her incompetent ass every nickel Hewlett-Packard paid her in severance.  She got millions as did this last asshole they fired after a year.

But for every Steve Jobs (or even Bill Gates) there are a THOUSAND Carly Fiorinos and Michael Eisners (who got paid 120 million for nearly sinking Disney) who are paid insane amounts of money for…..fucking up the company they were hired to run, or, fucking over tens of thousands of ordinary people.

The fact that we can’t differ between a Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett or Peter Lynch, the highly competent and innovative, and Carly Fiorino, Ken Lay, the Koch Bros, Mitt Romney and Thomas H. Lee Partners, all destructive, incompetent and damaging to the economy, is the heart of the problem.

It’s not that the good guys aren’t bastards.  They are.  But on the whole every one of the ones I named produced far, FAR more good for everyone than bad.  Like a Henry Ford.  Selfish, innovative, and smart enough to say “I want to build a car MY EMPLOYEES can afford!”

But the others? Incompetent, destructive either by bumbling, or by dishonest criminal behavior, or by dishonest, immoral, unproductive, but legal behavior (Mitt Romney and TH LEE).  Yeah they own the law.  They would buy a company, borrow to the hilt against its value, take the money OUT of the company, then arrange an “employee ownership sale” of this over-debt-laden company to people whose only choice was to accept it or be unemployed.  Then the company goes bankrupt under the debt anyway, the employees are out of work, and Thomas H Lee Partners walks away with a couple of hundred million…..and then claim they DESERVE this money!  (read the NY times article about how TH Lee destroyed Simmons Beautyrest mattresses this way).

Meritocracy vs incompetence and predation.  Yet the super-rich and the Republicans want us to think they are one and the same.  AND THEY’VE SUCCESSFULLY SOLD THIS LINE OF BULLSHIT!

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By balkas, October 26, 2011 at 8:30 am Link to this comment

“almost every founder repeatedly warned that a failure to apply a law wld lead to an
unjust society”.
this contradicts glenn’s earlier statement [and our own averment] that u.s [system of
rule] had been founded on wrong principle.

so when franklin, jefferson, payne, et all talked, u.s society was as iniquitous then as it
is now; in principle, that is!

but they had enough humaness left [and were shamed enough] to only say that not
applying the law to all wld lead to an unjust society.

so, as it is some politocos’ wont [some do that right now and may in future also] also
the dead ones also spoke out of both corners of their mouths. the ruse is also know
as: don’t let the left hand know what the right hand is doing. [i thank the sage for who
first said this]

of course, they may or may have not known that a law [always written solely by
upper/ruling class] cannot be known—it can only interpreted.

be it as it may, they, nevertheless, go on and appoint only the upper class to interpret
all laws.
and, to make matters even worse for the servant classes, they go on and ‘divide’ the
governance into three branches; thus splitting asunder what cannot be split asunder:
one and the only system [in use] and one and only ruling class.

and so ensuring that the cheques and balances always balance out.

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By prisnersdilema, October 26, 2011 at 8:26 am Link to this comment

Accept the fact that you, will at some point in your life, be arrested. That arrest may lead, to some sort of incarceration….Either inside a Jail, Prison, or a quasi prison made up of restrictions, on either in income or movement outside the prison walls…

Society as it exists now, is full of tricks and traps, and the competency of the legal authority is not questioned. Your only recourse is a court, in which for all intents and purposes, you cannot afford legal protection…do to the exhorbitant legal costs to you…

Also through administrative law, you can be dispossed of everything you own, with little to no right to appeal.

Once you are incarcerated, you are subjected to a gulag like system, well known for its violence, and brutality. Your life will be at the mercy of your fellow inmates,  many of whom suffer from histories of psychopatholgy and are criminally insane. Most of them are classed as career criminals, and have nothing to lose.

All it takes is the loss of a job, or some minor traffic citation, to expose, the average citizen.

However the Rich face no obstacles like this and rarely if ever go to jail, for anything. Their wealth serves to insulate them, and to provide them with protection form the law, and also from those who use the law for their own ends…..

The awareness that such a system exists, is used by the wealthy, as a way to intimate the general population, and to control freedom of action.

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By Dave C, October 26, 2011 at 8:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree that many see the wealthy differently than in earlier times.  However, what
is different now is that the middle class has run out of substitues for their
declining incomes.  They have been keeping their standard of living by first having
a second income earner, then the stock market booms, then the housing boom
and finally easy credit.  Without those to hide the true decline in income and good
paying jobs, they realize how bad things have really become.

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By balkas, October 26, 2011 at 7:44 am Link to this comment

good pint about probability that 10% exploit 90%. i have already posted [i think on
this site] the probable percentages of people whose mastery of other people
descends from 100% [that of the 0001-1%] over all others and of the 5%, 10%, 15%
whose mastery of all others vary anywhere from 70% to, say, whatever? how ab. to

but essentially, the structure of u.s society is not an exception nor unique. it is
similar to all other supremacistic structures of society. and in basics, exactly the
same as that of russia, india, colombia, or u.k

the reason u.s appears diff is the fact that u.s is more ‘productive’, more multinat’l,
multicultic; thus more divided than any other evil empire; and thus much more easily
ruled and its pop more easily [and more massively] pavlovized.

u.s ‘elite’ was more successful in its pavlovization of own lower classes also because
its people have never experienced a war on its soil.

german [or nazi ‘elite’], russian, chinese, u.k, italian ‘elites’ cld not pavlovize its
respective pops to the degree that u.s ‘elite’; probably because constant walfare,  and
the fact that such evil empires were by far less multinat’l than u.s or argentina, chile. 

still there is no diff IN KIND between the empires i mentioned [and many others]—
only in degree. tnx

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By balkas, October 26, 2011 at 7:10 am Link to this comment

yes, u.s system of governance is founded on an evil principle that some people are
or can be taught to consider selves more valued, important, deserving than some
other people.
[recall, please, pavlov’s method of teaching dogs; which can be tried on people, as
well. but where was he when i—oh so badly—needed him?]

and not just u.s system of rule, but all of the asocialist or supremacist lands and

socalled american values are identical with russian, british, german, indian values.
yes, americans produce much more than any of the other evil empires.
however, much of is not needed for good life; some of it is poisonous, destructive
to biota and health of the planet and lead to more wars by u.s and other empires in
order to secure natural wealth of other peoples and to keep destruction of life

i wld never call such produce “growth”. i am hoping that at least one more poster
wld have espied the BIG LIE [the bigger, the more believable] that the label “growth”
represents. bozhidar balkas vancouver []

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By OtherHand, October 26, 2011 at 6:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is a very thoughtful analysis, but it breaks down with the sports analogy Mr. Greenwald uses. A much more appropriate one would be “the superstar gets the call.” In most sporting contests in the US, the officiating openly favors the sports’ biggest names. Whether it’s the size of the strike zone in baseball, the differences in the way fouls are called in basketball or the way superstar quarterbacks get much greater protection from officials than their lesser-known or lesser-skilled counterparts, advantage is deliberately conferred to certain players in a system in which the rules are supposed to apply equally to everyone. This reality isn’t even a matter of dispute, hence the axiom. A famous sports talk radio host once compared this to loan interest rates relative to credit score—some people actually deserve to have the rules bent in their favor. It’s the whole point of having rules, the reasoning goes. So I agree with Mr. Greenwald’s premise, but certainly not with the notion that Americans abhor cheating. We differentiate cheating the way we do everything else: the Occupy Movement is full of people who no longer imagine or foresee the game being officiated in their favor. Meanwhile, the other side is running-up the score.

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By A. Benway, October 26, 2011 at 6:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Actually the system is working about as designed, in a logical extension of the original (actual) intent. It seems like it was subverted because most people don’t know the facts about the intent and instead believe a myth. People might want to learn about the founding fathers - and the myth. “The Myth of the Founding Fathers” seems to have deceived good old Glen…

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By bpawk, October 26, 2011 at 6:15 am Link to this comment

YOur title “How the Rich Subverted the Legal System” is incorrect - it is the government who, making the legal system, allows the rich to take advantage of the system.  Goldman Sachs doesn’t make the law, the government does so take your beef with the govt otherwise it sounds suspiciously like you’re an Obama supporter.

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By Alaxsxaq, October 26, 2011 at 2:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

My father commented many times that things wouldn’t change in America until
there was a revolution.  The sad fact is that, no matter how things went, as
Government action led progressively to a loss of wealth amongst the majority and
to huge sums of money being drained from the economy by the war machine and
the huge, multi-national corporations, people sat and watched with barely a
whisper of dissatisfaction.  Election after election, I was said to have wasted my vote
by refusing to join most of America in choosing between no choice - Democrat or
Republican.  Americans have been fat, dump, and happy; too afraid of losing the
comforts of life to rise up against a system that did not work for them.  Meanwhile,
the people who control the system used it to shovel vast sums of money into their
pockets, laughing, as it goes, all the way to the bank.  Well, the greedy bastards
found the line in the sand and stepped over it and, suddenly, and forever, I hope,
the majority has awaken.  It is a small part of the majority at the moment, but I am
optimistic that more and more of the People will hear the message and wake to the
fact that their future has been stolen and that we can get it back if we act now.  I am
hopeful that the revolution my father always talked of has begun and will be
sustained until the system is disrupted and we, the people of the world, have forged
a new future for ourselves.

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By Not One More!, October 26, 2011 at 1:27 am Link to this comment

The problem is that the top 1% doesn’t care about the other 99%. The problem is that the top 10% don’t care about the other 90%. The problem is that the top 50% don’t care about the bottom 50%. And it seems that nobody cares about the bottom 25%.

And its not just that the corporate elite don’t give a shit about anybody else. They create wars, destroy our food and water,and are actively killing and maiming people, especially those in the bottom 25%.

And democratic party supporters go along because of their own perceived potential of wealth, and with an almost equal sociopathic lack of concern for those less fortunate than them.

If the Occupy Wall Street is a genuine course correction, then it would consider the needs of all 100% of the people, protecting human rights for all. And it certainly would not support the corporate democratic and republican parties.

Vote third party, stop giving your consent to the charade that we actually have elected officials that are acting for the good of the general public.

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