Archive for Corruption
David Simon on America as a Horror Show
We’ve changed and we’ve become contemptuous of the idea that we are all in this together. This is about sharing and about, you know, when you say sharing there’s a percentage of the population (and it’s the moneyed percent of our population), that hears socialism or communism or any of the other -isms they want to put on it. But ultimately we are all part of the same society. And it’s either going to be a mediocre society that, you know, abuses people or it’s not…
And that once they’re in that situation, they’re not only marginalized, they’re abused. I mean, we are the country that jails more of our population than any other state on the globe. More than totalitarian states we put people in prison. We’ve managed to monetize these irrelevant people in a way that allows some of us to get rich.
Now, we’re all paying for it as taxpayers for having this level of incarceration in American society which is unheard of in the world. But we let some people, you know, get a profit off of it. The monetization of human beings like that, you know, anybody tells you that the markets will solve everything, the libertarian ideal.
I can’t get past just how juvenile the thought is that if you just let the markets be the markets, they’ll solve everything.
The cattle barons are nervous and getting reckless.
The United States has come to resemble those iconic westerns with a Wild West economy in which cattle barons rule, politicians and lawmen are on their payrolls, and struggling settlers are either compliant or prey.
But after the 2008 crash and bailout on Wall Street, one after another Occupy, the Consumer Protection Bureau, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Moral Mondays and now Pope Francis have put the cattle barons on notice that their grip on power is weakening.
“America’s descending into madness,” writes Henry Giroux in his latest book. The author appeared on Bill Moyer’s program Friday as the nation observed the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. Since the Reagan-Thatcher era, Kennedy’s calls to public service and national aspiration have been systematically supplanted with an ethos of radical self-interest and tawdry appeals to men’s basest instincts. It is a world, Giroux asserts, in which elites consider that “survival of the fittest is all that matters” and that “democracy is an excess.” Giroux is appalled.
… the notion that profit making is the essence of democracy, the notion that economics is divorced from ethics, the notion that the only obligation of citizenship is consumerism, the notion that the welfare state is a pathology, that any form of dependency basically is disreputable and needs to be attacked, I mean, this is a vicious set of assumptions.
The point is that the superrich have not gone Galt on us — not really, even if they imagine they have. It’s much closer to pure class warfare, a defense of the right of the privileged to keep and extend their privileges. It’s not Ayn Rand, it’s Ancien Régime.
Matt Taibbi has a new investigative piece at Rolling Stone detailing another scheme by which FIRE (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) investors are trying to “Shoot the Moon” and purloin as much of America’s wealth as they can before the peasants take to the streets with torches and pitchforks.
MATT TAIBBI:What I would say about that, is what did Willie Sutton say about why he robbed banks? That’s where the money is. Look, pension funds are sort of the last great big unguarded piles of money in this country and there are going to be all sorts of operators who trying to get their hands on that money.
The operators Taibbi mentions have tried unsuccessfully to get control of Social Security funds. They’re working hard to gain control of publicly owned utilities and publicly built infrastructure. You’re already paying to keep more people in cells in private prisons. They’ve demonized public schools, public school teachers and their unions as well, almost as if FIRE wants them out of the way. Here’s why in this chart showing the largest annual expenditure in all 50 states — because it’s where the money is in state budgets.
If you built it, if you own it, they want it. If the money is not already in their pockets, Wall Street is looking for some way to put it there.
From their press release:
“Across the country, for-profit companies are engaged in a hostile takeover of our schools, roads, prisons, drinking water, and even local government itself,” said Lisa Graves, Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy, adding that, “CMD’s Outsourcing America Exposed project will give taxpayers the tools they need to identify these privatizers and profiteers, their eye-popping salaries, and the raw deals contained in their contracts that puts taxpayers on the hook, and it will tell taxpayers how they can take back control of public assets and public services.”
You know the joke about the con man who tries to sell some sucker the Brooklyn Bridge? Of course you do. It’s an obvious con because everybody knows the Brooklyn Bridge is public property. Now listen up, pal, or the next joke may be on you.
Investors that failed to privatize Social Security under the Bush administration and who got badly burned in the crash of 2008 are looking to get their hands on public property at bargain prices. Even the Brooklyn Bridge is not out of the question.
Public private partnerships are a hot, new investment vehicle. PPPs are a way for getting public infrastructure — that you, your parents, and their parents’ parents paid for and maybe even built with their own hands — out of public hands and under the control of private investors who are more than happy to sell your own property back to you at a tidy profit. A turnpike here, an airport there, or your city’s water system.
Psst. Hey, bud. C’mere. I got this bridge in Manhattan…
And from the In-Box comes a posting from inthepublicinterest.org. This week in privatization, including one of Barry Summers’ favorites, the Macquarie Group. And lookee, they’re buying a bridge in Manhattan:
“This is a textbook case of how corporations attempt to influence our democracy, election after election. No. Seriously. They have a textbook.”
If we can help Boulder succeed, whose town gets helped next?
From your friends at Upworthy:
BILL MOYERS: We are so close to losing our democracy to the mercenary class, it’s as if we are leaning way over the rim of the Grand Canyon and all that’s needed is a swift kick in the pants. Look out below.
The predators in Washington are only this far from monopoly control of our government. They have bought the political system, lock, stock and pork barrel, making change from within impossible. That’s the real joke…
Don’t know about you, but often I feel as if instead of holding the leash, I’m wearing the collar.
It occurred to me tonight to juxtapose two speeches. I was reminded of the first by Digby, who posted The Day of Affirmation speech by Robert Kennedy, from 1966. That led me to remember the second, the famous “Yes We Can” speech by President Obama which was his message upon coming in second in the New Hampshire primary to Hillary Clinton early in 2008. Read More→
Maybe it was the flurry of ALEC-backed legislation in Raleigh. Or maybe the vote suppression legislation. But something about Moral Mondays in Raleigh reminded me of this post from March 2011 as events unfolded in Madison, WI:
Colonist or Royalist?
It’s what every American should be asking themselves this week. The Tea Party too.
Do you stand with the modern-day British East India Corporations and their masters (the Kochs, the Olins, the Bradleys and other royals that want to unmake the American Century and rig American democracy like they rigged the financial markets)? Or do you stand with the people in your community? Who do you serve?
It’s pretty clear who Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP leadership in Wisconsin serves. They and their brethren and Forbes 400 patrons have declared open war on the middle class, with rafts of industry ghost-written legislation in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana — in about half the states. To strip the collective bargaining rights of political enemies, to defund public schools (and teachers), to suppress the vote by requiring photo IDs (Jim Crow, Jr.), to dissolve elected local governments in a corporate coup d’état, to arrogate sweeping executive authority over state agencies in a single unelected … tzar(?), to transfer tax dollars from the poor and middle class to give tax breaks to corporations, the works — all supported by the same press-shy billionaire ideologues behind Americans for Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Council. As the fake “Koch” phone call demonstrated, they don’t care about your jobs or your economy, and they don’t care about you.
So where do you stand? Colonist or Royalist?
Pretty sure those guys are followers, not leaders. Look, this is a movement named for a famously expensive act of vandalism against the private assets of the British East India Company, probably the largest corporation of its day. A company so in bed with the British government — and Members of Parliament — that their tax subsidies were allowing them to undercut the price of illegal tea smuggled in from Holland. This pissed off the smugglers. Royally.
It’s hard to imagine the Walter Mittys in that video lifting a finger against their corporate overlords like the patriots they fancy thyemselves. I’d charge them with false advertising, but they’ve helped their masters see to it that there’s little funding for enforcement of consumer protection laws against corporations. Pretty much the sort of thing going on in Raleigh right now.