Every generation or so, a major secular shift takes place that shakes up the existing paradigm. It happens in industry, finance, literature, sports, manufacturing, technology, entertainment, travel, communication, etc.

I would like to discuss the paradigm shift that is occurring in politics.

For a long time, American politics has been defined by a Left/Right dynamic. It was Liberals versus Conservatives on a variety of issues. Pro-Life versus Pro-Choice, Tax Cuts vs. More Spending, Pro-War vs Peaceniks, Environmental Protections vs. Economic Growth, Pro-Union vs. Union-Free, Gay Marriage vs. Family Values, School Choice vs. Public Schools, Regulation vs. Free Markets.

The new dynamic, however, has moved past the old Left Right paradigm. We now live in an era defined by increasing Corporate influence and authority over the individual. These two “interest groups” – I can barely suppress snorting derisively over that phrase – have been on a headlong collision course for decades, which came to a head with the financial collapse and bailouts. Where there is massive concentrations of wealth and influence, there will be abuse of power.  The Individual has been supplanted in the political process nearly entirely by corporate money, legislative influence, campaign contributions, even free speech rights.

This may not be a brilliant insight, but it is surely an overlooked one. It is now an Individual vs. Corporate debate – and the Humans are losing.


• Many of the regulations that govern energy and banking sector were written by Corporations;

• The biggest influence on legislative votes is often Corporate Lobbying;

• Corporate ability to extend copyright far beyond what original protections amounts to a taking of public works for private corporate usage;

• PAC and campaign finance by Corporations has supplanted individual donations to elections;

• The individuals’ right to seek redress in court has been under attack for decades, limiting their options.

• DRM and content protection undercuts the individual’s ability to use purchased content as they see fit;

• Patent protections are continually weakened. Deep pocketed corporations can usurp inventions almost at will;

• The Supreme Court has ruled that Corporations have Free Speech rights equivalent to people; (So much for original intent!)

None of these are Democrat/Republican conflicts, but rather, are corporate vs. individual issues.

For those of you who are stuck in the old Left/Right debate, you are missing the bigger picture. Consider this about the Bailouts: It was a right-winger who bailed out all of the big banks, Fannie Mae, and AIG in the first place; then his left winger successor continued to pour more money into the fire pit.

What difference did the Left/Right dynamic make? Almost none whatsoever.

How about government spending? The past two presidents are regarded as representative of the Left Right paradigm – yet they each spent excessively, sponsored unfunded tax cuts, plowed money into military adventures and ran enormous deficits. Does Left Right really make a difference when it comes to deficits and fiscal responsibility? (Apparently not).

What does it mean when we can no longer distinguish between the actions of the left and the right? If that dynamic no longer accurately distinguishes what occurs, why are so many of our policy debates framed in Left/Right terms?

In many ways, American society is increasingly less married to this dynamic: Party Affiliation continues to fall, approval of Congress is at record lows, and voter participation hovers at very low rates.

There is some pushback already taking place against the concentration of corporate power: Mainstream corporate media has been increasingly replaced with user created content – YouTube and Blogs are increasingly important to news consumers (especially younger users). Independent voters are an increasingly larger share of the US electorate. And I suspect that much of the pushback against the Elizabeth Warren’s concept of a Financial Consumer Protection Agency plays directly into this Corporate vs. Individual fight.

But the battle lines between the two groups have barely been drawn. I expect this fight will define American politics over the next decade.

Keynes vs Hayek? Friedman vs Krugman? Those are the wrong intellectual debates. Its you vs. Tony Hayward, BP CEO, You vs. Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs CEO. And you are losing . . .


This short commentary was conceived not to be an exhaustive research, but rather, to stimulate debate. There are many more examples and discussions we can have about this, and I hope readers do so in comments.

But my bottom line is this:  If you see the world in terms of Left & Right, you really aren’t seeing the world at all . . .

Category: Bailouts, Politics, Psychology

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

193 Responses to “The Left Right Paradigm is Over: Its You vs. Corporations”

  1. dss says:


    Look at the price we have paid for 30 years of the right wing plutocrats controlling everything. Even many Democrats are part of the plutocracy. This country has moved so far to the right that guys like Nixon and Goldwater would be characterized as “left wing loonies”.

  2. stevenjs says:

    I’m afraid this article, as accurate as it is regarding the nature of the conflict between the individual and the corporate owners of power, would replace the left/right dynamic with empty sophistry.

    The Left has always been the David vs. Goliath story, the Right has always been the corporatists. The fallacy arises when one imagines that the Right is the exclusive domain of the Republican Party, while the “Left” is the Democratic Party. Both are Right wing in the corporatist argument, and neither, apart from the small fringes of each, are Left in the individual’s corner.

    There is virtually no Left in the United States. The very word socialism, much more so communism, is virtually banned, verboten, an obscenity, never uttered in polite company. The meaning and potential of socialist thought is rejected in ignorance, and even the terms of its critique of corporatism are disallowed in the national discourse, such as it is. One can well imagine a Europoean liberal declaring the USA a retard for this ideological blind spot, the emperor with no clothes, while the rest of the capitalist world has vigorous socialist parties, candidates, open and serious discussion, in short they have not burned the books in that part of the library, but given them the philosphical standing they plainly deserve. Einstein as a socialist. The list of genius who were so is longer than any other political affiliation.

    We are the ostrich nation, head in sand. Without our murderous military might and armament economy, we’d be the ideological laughing stock of the globe (where we are not already). Imagine, an impoverished working class rural dweller voting for the party of wealth, war and corporate domination because they hate gays or think abortion is sin or are afraid the party of the people will take away their guns, or would prefer to pay less taxes. There should be an idiot test for voting.

    At least the rhetoric of the “party of the people” is left sounding, fake to be sure, but even so any working class person, including midddle class workers, should have their head examined if they can see a way to voting Republican, which is to say, totally against their individual economic and political interest (except for the debilitating gay, gun, or god obsession by which they are duped). This is only possible because ignorance of socialism is nearly universal in America. We’ve just shut our eyes and made war on the concept since its inception.

    The only way the Democratic Party will cease to be corporatism lite, versus Republican corporatism vicious, is if a third party, or candidate, or string of candidates, pulls them (kicking and screaming) there. For there to be a Left in this country, the Dem’s corporatism lite would be the conservative right wing position of the Republicans, and we’d have a Socialist Party worth its name in the Democratic Party space.

    Not that I am a socialist, mind you, it’s just that human development for the past 100 or so years has hinged on understanding its critique of capitalism, and we as a nation are indeed retards on the world’s political stage.

    Unfortunately, we claim supremacy and leadership, and that at the point of a gun, an armed retard, on the loose, evangelizing its dementia to a bewildered world.

    To see the world, we need to see there is no Left in the USA, only two degrees of the corporatist Right.

  3. dss says:


    Labor unions have lost out big over the years and are no longer the force they once were.

  4. Thor says:

    Denise – Good point. Can you imagine trying to get something like The Clean Air, or The Endangered Species act through congress today? Half the democrats would vote no!

    This whole “Liberal agenda” bullshit has been foisted on this country by the plutocracy.

  5. Fred Mack says:

    Barry – GREAT ARTICLE!!! I’ve done the get an education, work hard, and treat people right path as my Midwestern parents taught all of the six kids in our family. I went from nothing to over a six figure income, and was downsized several times in the process. Companies justify ALL of their actions by the mantra that their mission is to “increase shareholder value”. I’m posting a link to your site on mypeoplesvoice.com. One might ask….. What do we do to change things? Even the best intentioned government officials become corporate puppets out of fear “unemployment”, and having to exist in the “real” world like the rest of us.

  6. winslow says:

    25 yrs ago I attended a seminar on the future of economic America. The main premise was that small businesses (10-20 employees) was going to be the future driver of America.

    Being that it has not played out in the predicted manner that was to enhance the future of the majority of Americans; as you have indicated, corporations have taken over every facet of American life.

  7. hammerandtong2001 says:

    From the Baseline Scenario:


    To the former question, their argument is simple: business interests in all sectors organized a takeover of political power that pushed organized labor and other groups protecting middle-class interests to the sidelines and made possible decades of policies that have enriched the super-rich at the expense of everyone else, including the merely affluent. Finance was simply the biggest and most profitable of these sectors–and, we would emphasize, the one best able to hold the government hostage in a financial and economic crisis.


  8. bergsten says:

    Barry — you might want to go back and watch Network to remember what became of Howard Beale at the end. Just sayin’.

  9. tesky says:

    Very insightful article and comments. I have a question: HOW did this happen? Is this simply due to the rise of corporations since the nineteenth century? Power corrupts? Or perhaps a lack of campaign finance reform? Was the corporate takeover of the government a collusive effort?

    Most importantly, what is the remedy?

  10. diogeron says:

    As an old, retired guy, I was used to Republicans with whom I often sparred about the value (or lack there0f) of government regulation, whether Keynes got it mostly right or not, etc. Now, however, I find far too many people who self-identify as “conservatives” who tell me that evolution is a myth, the humans don’t contribute at all to climate change, that our schools are failing because “we’ve taken God out of our schools” (by which they always seem to mean, THEIR God), and a whole host of other similar issues which I find baffling. Have Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh really replaced William F. Buckley and Russell Kirk as the voice of “conservatives?” If not, then why are so many on the Republican Right willing to attribute more credibility to Glenn Beck, who never attended college, than the National Academy of Sciences on climate change or who claim that since evolution is “just a theory” then we should let Ben Stein invoke “intelligent design” as the solution to improving the values of our young people and require it to be taught in schools as an “alternative perspective” to evolution? After seeing his film promoting ‘intelligent design,” I’m convinced the only thing Ben Stein is capable of proving in the realm of science is that the idea of regression to the mean is alive and kicking and that Ben Stein should be offered up as “Exhibit A” to anyone who doubts that the concept is real.

    This is not my father’s or my grandfather’s GOP.

  11. WFTA says:

    I think it may not be so much ”corporation vs. me” as it is who owns the corporations. I think we often fail to realize just how wealthy the very wealthy really are. The numbers I’ll use here are not 100% accurate, but they are accurate enough to support the point:

    I’ve been fortunate to earn a college degree and work in relatively professional positions for the past 30 years. I’m debt free and estimate my net worth at about $1.6 million with <20% as real estate. I think most people would be surprised to know that this puts me in about the 79th or 80th percentile of net worth in the United States. You might be more surprised to know that people owning as much as I do or less hold no more that about 3.5% of the country’s net worth. And most of that wealth is real estate, not financial.

    The wealthiest 2% of the U.S. population owns well over half of the country’s net worth and an even larger share of financial wealth.

    What is truly amazing to me that the uber-wealthy, through the genius of the Republican Party, have succeeded in convincing a substantial portion (maybe a majority) of the Walmart demographic and the Tea Partiers, most of whom have a small pot to piss in and an even smaller window to throw it out of, to believe that universal healthcare is a bad thing and that regressive taxation is a good thing.

  12. DL says:

    Setting aside the issue of the special interest groups (e.g., trial lawyers and labor unions), there is another issue, which is that of taxing foreign income of multinational corporations (income that has not been repatriated). Obama would love to do this.

    While there might be a modest short term benefit, I think the long term effects of this would be devastating. U.S. multinationals would be put at an enormous disadvantage vis a vis their foreign counterparts.

  13. ToNYC says:

    Your remedy is to start today de-levering your dollars into your or other local Intellectual Property and re-lever up into your life off the Plantation. What if you refused every plastic bag and rolled with your own?

  14. rktbrkr says:

    A corporation that totally screws up gets liquidated thru bankruptcy, right? WRONG – the 19 largest banks (some are just kinda banks really) were granted immortal life with the “too big to fail”. They aren’t controlled by the government they control it. GM can fail – they only “make” stuff but GMAC/Ditech/Ally whatever – they are too essential to the US of A to fail. Sickening.

  15. WaveCatcher says:


    Weird how I was thinking about this very thing over the weekend.

  16. ParadigmLinks says:

    Democrat/Republican divide-and-conquer since Civil War:


    Our top leaders are…working…to rule the world.
    But while they are implementing this plan,
    they must keep the people busy with political

    We’ll therefore speed up…the political organization
    called the Democratic Party; and we’ll…spotlight…
    the Republican Party.

    By dividing the electorate this way, we’ll be able to
    have them spend their energies at struggling
    amongst themselves on questions that, for us,
    have no importance…

    It is thus that, through discreet acts, we can maintain
    what was so generously projected and executed with
    such a remarkable success.

    @stevenjs – the new word for tyranny is communitarianism -
    read Occult Technocracy of Power too

  17. [...] earlier commentary (The Left Right Paradigm is Over: Its You vs. Corporations) reminded me of this political [...]

  18. Tom Hickey says:

    Marshal Auerback has a similar post at Naked Capitalism today here.

  19. Tom Hickey says:

    This ties in to Ravi Batra’s latest book, The New Golden Age: The Coming Revolution against Political Corruption and Economic Chaos. It’s a global phenomenon, and the reaction is already hitting in Latin America — Brazil, for example.

  20. mpavan says:

    it has NEVER been about left vs. right. Like Jim Hightower said ages ago, it’s about top versus bottom.

    always has been. But it is getting so egregious, that it is becoming more and more apparent.

  21. lovejoy says:

    Spot on. Brilliant.

    I am going to start reading the classic sixties books. Looks like another counterrevolution is needed.

    … Not going to work for the man and let the man dictate my life.

    Live free or die!

  22. tradewithdavedotcom says:

    Hey Barry…. what are you doing… trying to put me out of business? What am I going to write about, if you write about what I’m going to write about before I write about it…. geez.


    Dave Harrison

  23. jdowd says:

    The corporations v. individuals is pretty much the stated position of the right-wing as to how things should work — i.e. a free market will allow corporations to do whatever they want and we as individuals are “free” to interact with them as we wish. The problem is, as the author notes, the power imbalance between an individual and a collective force like a corporation. the solution would be for these individuals (or perhaps workers) to ban together and challenge their power in the marketplace and in the government. unions are the obvious way to do that and this is pretty much the current battle everywhere you look. from school “reform” (notice how it only counts as reform if its anti-union, but suggestions for change by teachers unions are never called reform), to tax and spending cuts, privatization, even the auto bailouts.

    it is still pretty much labor v. capitol with most of the public lining up with capitol because their mad that a union employee has one more sick day then them – see New Jersey where the governor has successfully enlisted much of the middle class in an assault on middle class wages, secure retirements, decent health benefits, yearly raises etc.

    as for left v. right – you seem to assume left=democrat right=republican. a more accurate reading would be center-right=democrat far right=republican.

  24. xynz says:

    Barry, what is it that makes Obama a “Left Winger”?

    Sorry, but the “Left” has been very unhappy with Obama, precisely because he’s been on the “Center-Right” on too many crucial issues.

    Picking Geithner and Summers to run his economic team, that was a move to the Center-Right.

    Health Care Reform: the Left Wing position was something like “Medicare for All”. Obama gave us a Center-Right “Health Insurance Reform”. This was exactly what Big-Pharma and the Health Insurance Industry wanted: tens of millions of new clients pushed into corporate health care, all getting the same crappy insurance, but now subsidized by billions of taxpayers dollars.

    On the crucial issues: the Economy, Health Care, Constitutional protections during the War on (some) Terrorists, the wars in Iraq and Afgahnistan….Obama has been steadily pursuing issues that are Center-Right.

    There are many issues where Obama has been tacking Center-Left, but they have almost all been social-culutral issues: abortion, equal rights for gays/lesibians, stem cell research.

    Barry, the only reason why you consider Obama to be a “Left Winger”, is because you have been sucked into the Fox News Bizzaro world: where the sky is green, grass is blue and there are two equally valid sides to the “controversies” over evolution and global warming. In the FNC Bizzaro world, what used to be “The Center” is now considered “The Left”, while what used to be “The Left” is now considered “The Far Left”

    This is because we have suffered through three decades of the Right Wing using its economic power (Ruper Murdoch, Robert Mellon Scaife , Koch Brothers) to push the Overton Window further and further right.


    The proof is in the fact that so many former Reagan supporters and officials, have become Democrats. Discourse in the US has been pushed so far to the right, that Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of the Navy (Jim Webb) has become a Democratic Senator (VA).

    Back in the late 1970s, Howard Jarvis, Proposition 13 and Ronald Reagan were at the forefront of a Right-Wing revolution that has sought to destroy everything that the New Deal stood for. They have succeeded in repealing all meaningful reform in the financial markets (with the inevitable consequences). They have also been trying to destroy Social Security and it looks like they are finally gaining traction on that objective (cf, the catfood commission).

    I’ve knows some left wingers and some of them have been friends of mine.

    Obama is no “Left Winger”.

  25. BenTiger says:

    I have to say a few words about this. Have been around but never post anything. The ironic thing about these corporate interests is that it is NOT good for these corporations themselves in the long run. Think about Big Three Auto. Maybe they are doing better for the next quarter but they may be digging the grave for themselves and drag the country with them. It’s happening in the finance/’investment’ industries now. At this rate, pretty soon, only bot is trading.

  26. Rescission says:

    You are omitting small business from the argument. Include small businesses with the individual and you will have it correct.
    Case in point:
    From 2003-2004: Firms with less than 20 employees created 1.6 million new jobs, while firms with over 500 employees shrank by 214,000 jobs.
    Over 50% of Americans work for small businesses.
    Over 75% of all the U.S. Businesses are self employed INDIVIDUALS with no employees.
    Here’s the stinker: Small businesses, who create all the jobs and real growth don’t have a voice in Washington, and they don’t have lobbyists. They can’t send big bucks to politicians, and they don’t have time to lobby, because they have to meet payroll next week.
    You must differentiate small businesses from the word “corporation” when you make these arguments.

  27. polizeros says:

    I’m thinking we need a good old-fashioned American-as-apple-pie populist revolt.

    Brilliant post. Thank you.

  28. Andy T says:

    Yeah, Screw all those corporations.

    We should pass a law that either a) dissolves all corporations; or b) takes away all the rights and obligations of corporate entities. Corporations and the people who manage/work for the corporations have accomplished nothing worthwhile anyway. Screw ‘em.

    They’re a bunch of greedy bastards who only have their own self-interests at heart–much different than the altruistic readers of The Big Picture who are more “fair-minded” and put the interest of society first.

  29. Arequipa01 says:

    From the article on Rousseff:

    “this former leader of the resistance to a Western-backed military dictatorship (which tortured her)”

    AT- this is for you: http://asshatsforjesus.blogspot.com/

  30. Andy T says:

    Also, we ought to pass a law that limits what employees of Corporations can or cannot vote on (or lobby for). So, employees of firms should not be able vote on any local ballot measure involving a Corporation–because you know they’ll own vote for things favorable to their firm. Also, employees of corporations should be banned from making any political donations of any kind or be able to work for a political campaign.

  31. Andy T says:

    “Corporate ability to extend copyright far beyond what original protections amounts to a taking of public works for private corporate usage”

    “Patent protections are continually weakened. Deep pocketed corporations can usurp inventions almost at will”

    Yeah. When a “Corporation” invents something the patent life should be shorter than when an individual patents something. That’s only fair, because you know that a “Corporation” will do evil and try to maximize profits while a humble individual will have “fairer” ambitions for the patent.

  32. TakBak04 says:

    Late to this post..but Yves at Naked Capitalism had one yesterday that goes along with your post in many ways. The comment from “Jessica” over at “NC” is very interesting. Do we have so much “DIVERSITY” today that our interests are scattered. “Diversity of Choice” in who we are? Yves had 269 Comments to her post…all except a handful were interesting reads… This post from “Jessica” stood out to me because it’s an interesting perspective that anecdotaly…I’ve observed in my experience the last few decades.
    Naked Capitalism—-Yves Smith
    Sunday, September 26, 2010
    Why is There No Political Outlet for Anger on the Left These Days?

    Poll ratings show approval levels for the major political perps, meaning the President, Congress, each of the two major parties, at levels so low as to be tantamount to loathing. But while the Tea Party has become a force to be reckoned with by tapping into this wellspring of discontent, those on the left who are unhappy with the lump of coal the Administration and the Democratic party have put in their stocking have no outlet.
    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2010/09/why-is-there-no-political-outlet-for-anger-on-the-left-these-days.html 269 Comments

    Jessica Says:
    September 26, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Deep structural changes that our understanding has not fully kept up with.
    1) Since the right wing basically is offering a return to what America was before the breaking-apart of the 1960s, they don’t need to understand. A left wing pointing to the way forward does.
    2) The right wing is actually aligned with core groups within the current power structure and always has that wind at its back (money and media). The left wing has that wind in its face.
    Some of the structural changes:
    - Job insecurity and increased competition for real jobs. “Dropping out” was based on the ease of dropping back in later.
    - Rise of student debt peonage (as many have pointed out) But if this were as big a factor as my gut tells me it is, then why isn’t there a strong youth left in European countries where university tuition is free? More freedom yes, but it is not exactly the 60s in Scandanavia either.
    - Fractioning of experience with shift from Big 3 networks to micro-media. Even the “mainstream” has become more like a river delta with many parallel streams than a single big wide river.
    - General intensification of competitiveness in ordinary life as dissolving of life-long employment and clear career tracks opens up more possibilities both for advance and for being stepped on and left behind.
    - Split between working class political interests and middle class political interests from the 1960s.
    - Outsourcing and renewed immigration in the US (was unusually low from early 1920s until late 1960s) and rise of immigration to Europe instead of from Europe.
    - More full incorporation of formerly semi-independent power structures. The big 3 networks in the US used to be a semi-independent part of the power structure. Now they are direct corporate puppets. Universities were partial refuges and incubators of alternatives but are now corporate vocational and research centers.
    - Commodification of youth culture and incorporation into corporate structure. Rebellion against social structure converted into rebellion against uncoolness. Partially due to dissolving of much of former sexual restrictions on the middle class. Testosteronal “smash the state” becomes “fight for the right to party”.
    – The left in the 1960s was aided by the rise of youth culture, which was fairly new. (I think youth have separate music from the rest of society starts roughly with the young Frank Sinatra in the 40s.) Now “youth culture” too has split into smaller fragments.
    - Maslowian alienation: Middle-class left tends to frame issues in terms of social justice but have hard time making straight out economic demands. A “chicken in every pot” has become “health insurance for the uninsured” rather than “free post-secondary education/training”.

    Generally, diversity has broken up solidarity based on uniformities. Developing a higher level solidarity based on uniqueness rather than uniformities is a difficult task. (Which the right-wing does not face because it is by instinct pro-uniformity)

  33. favjr says:

    Corporations, unions, and other associations existed in only a very limited way when the U.S. was founded.

    We could go a long way to restoring some balance if we had an amendment to the Constitution that stated: “None of the amendments to the Constitution apply to non-natural persons.”

    But I’m afraid its a pipe dream in today’s environment.

  34. Securities Ruling Limits Claims of Fraud

    The U.S. Supreme Court has given multinational companies a powerful new legal defense against fraud claims made by some of their investors.

    The weapon for companies grows out of a June ruling that limits fraud claims in U.S. courts by private investors who bought shares on foreign stock exchanges.

    The Supreme Court decided Australian shareholders who had purchased stock overseas in an Australian bank couldn’t bring securities-fraud claims in a U.S. court. In order to avoid “incompatibility with the applicable laws of other countries,” U.S. securities laws should govern only domestic stock purchases, the court concluded.

    The ruling could save millions of dollars for companies such as BP PLC, which faces securities suits over the Gulf oil spill, securities attorneys said. A representative for BP didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment about the merits of the claims.

    At the same time, it means investors such as U.S. public pension funds could see limited recoveries in a number of pending securities actions, including against Toyota Motor Corp. related to its handling of sudden acceleration claims. A representative for Toyota didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment about the merits of the claims.

    Judges have been interpreting the ruling in Morrison v. National Australia Bank Ltd. as preventing fraud claims in U.S. courts by any investor—either from the U.S. or abroad—who purchased shares on foreign exchanges.

  35. [...] Ritholtz sums it up well. Be sure to read the whole thing The new dynamic, however, has moved past the old Left Right paradigm. We now live in an era defined by increasing Corporate influence and authority over the individual. These two “interest groups” – I can barely suppress snorting derisively over that phrase – have been on a headlong collision course for decades, which came to a head with the financial collapse and bailouts. Where there is massive concentrations of wealth and influence, there will be abuse of power. The Individual has been supplanted in the political process nearly entirely by corporate money, legislative influence, campaign contributions, even free speech rights. [...]

  36. Tom K says:


    Okay, I’ll admit “vast” was an overstatement, but the fact remains House Republicans voted 108 to 91 against the bank bailouts while House Democrats voted 172 to 63 in favor of the bank bailouts. May I say the Democrats favored bailing out he banks vastly more than the Republicans?

    My quibble was with your “It was a right-winger who bailed out all of the…” First, I didn’t know Bush was our King, and second, I didn’t know Bush was a “right winger”. I guess he was the kind of right winger who increases the federal budget, subsidizes agriculture and transportation, adds a new Medicare drug benefit, and increases federal intervention in education and housing.

    Why is it so hard to admit that real fiscal conservatives do not support handouts to corporations?

    But making corporations the bogeyman for all the nation’s ills is not only silly, but isn’t supported by the evidence. If corporations hold so much weight over the electorate, why are corporate tax rates in the U.S. amongst the highest in the world? And why was the 2009 edition of the Code of Federal Regulations the largest ever, encompassing 163,333 pages in 226 individual books?

  37. retrogrouch says:

    “Keynes vs Hayek? Friedman vs Krugman? Those are the wrong intellectual debates. Its you vs. Tony Hayward, BP CEO, You vs. Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs CEO. And you are losing . . .”

    Except of course the Hayek and Friedman were the corporate voices and their message was spread as much as it was because it supported the corporate rape of our economy. Through endowed chairs and programs and corporate PR their school rose to what Galbraith would call the “conventional wisdom”. And then let run to its logical conclusion.

  38. mengyo says:

    Is it more profitable to give more of the story to “Where there is massive concentrations of wealth and influence, there will be abuse of power”?

    As apparently implied in the story it is not the winner in “Liberals versus Conservatives on a variety of issues” (as an example) that leads up to the current ‘You versus the Corporation’ paradigm today.

    Rather, one should be alert to abuse of power winning the day. Power need not be raw or financial (eg the sickening Washington lobbies) power. In fact, a more articulate but intellectually dishonest Liberal/Conservative/etc. would abuse his ability to out-argue his less articulate but honest opponent – or, if a more graphic illustration is needed, think of the dishonest but more ‘educated’ mini-bond pusher versus the comparatively ignorant but trusting buying individual (a trust y friend/relative, say). Certainly, there are many varieties of subtle abuse of power in this world, more than we (less subtle) are aware of.

    The other thing, then, would be to take a close look when there is massive concentration of wealth and influence on the assumption that there is abuse of power precisely for the purpose of such massive concentrations. Of course, massive concentration of wealth and influence itself is, in turn, the means to abuse of power.

    We look for where the gravy train is coming FROM – and there should be some surprises to see to whom some such grubby fingers belong to.

  39. lovejoy says:

    A bohemian touch. The Kinks “living on a Thin Line”


    Change the words from England to USA and the picture is painted …

    “All the stories have been told
    Of kings [Presidents] and days of old,
    But there’s no USA now.
    All the wars that were won and lost
    Somehow don’t seem to matter very much anymore.
    All the lies we were told,
    All the lies of the people running round,
    They’re castles [homes]have burned [been foreclosed]


    Now another century nearly gone,
    What are we gonna leave for the young?
    What we couldn’t do, what we wouldn’t do,
    It’s a crime, but does it matter?
    Does it matter much, does it matter much to you?
    Does it ever really matter?
    Yes, it really, really matters.


    Now another leader [Obama] says
    Break their hearts and break some heads.
    Is there nothing we can say or do?
    Blame the future on the past,
    Always lost in blood and guts.
    And when they’re gone, it’s me and you.
    Now I see change,
    But inside we’re the same as we ever were.”

  40. Brett Tibbitts says:

    I agree that it is no longer a left/right thing. But only a liberal would see the dynamic as a corporation vs. individual dynamic.

    The new dynamic is between those fighting for fiscal and monetary responsibility in this country and those wanting to continue the party of spending other peoples’ money.

    If you look throughout history you will see that empires end when they devalue their currency to police the world or to hand out more goodies to the populace to keep them supportive. That is exactly what we have been doing for decades, with the last two administrations exemplars of this decline.

    And the biggest problem looking at history is that the moral fiber of the nation declines right along with the currency and you end up with mediocracy instead of the meritocracy that brought the nation to power in the first place.


    BR: Um, no, you are still defining the debate in terms Leftist Rightist terms.

  41. Alex says:

    Fantastic piece!!! I agree 100%.

    Not sure if you’ll agree or not, but I think religious fundamentalism is another false dichotomy:

    The Founding Fathers Weren’t Anti-Islam

    I’m Jewish, but I don’t like fundamentalism of any flavor …

    (My essay touches on the left-right-paradigm being over, as well).


  42. ToNYC says:

    If you really wish to stimulate the economy while at the same time reduce unemployment, you could try declaring a tax holiday on small businesses with less than five employees not including immediate families.

  43. countziggenpuss says:

    Holy Christ, the nitwits are out again………….

    “Why is it so hard to admit that real fiscal conservatives do not support handouts to corporations?”

    So where exactly are these “real fiscal conservatives”??? I was born in 1976 and the only “conservatives” of which I am aware have exploded the deficit – see United States debt 1980-1992 & 2000-2008.

    “If corporations hold so much weight over the electorate, why are corporate tax rates in the U.S. amongst the highest in the world?”

    Ummmmmmm……… of the G8 & BRIC countries, the U.S. has the 4th lowest effective corporate tax – or as conservatives call it, “amongst the highest in the world.” (http://doingbusiness.org/documents/Paying_Taxes_2009.pdf#page=23)

  44. Goldsteve says:

    Read ‘The Shock Doctrine’ by Naomi Klien for a full history of the development and implementation of Corporatsim both globally and nationally. It is truly scarier than anything Stephen King can dream up.

  45. Jim67545 says:

    Late to party. Read comments (mostly.) Folks, corporations are not some intelligent creature (evil or otherwise.) Legally they are a non-natural person. So, the corporation itself has no brain and cannot act. It is the representatives of the corporation (Board, Execs, employees) who act.
    Within the corporation is a number of groups with their own set of interests and motives. The Board members provide some (usually poorly focused) safeguard of the interests of the stockholders laced with self-interest consisting of their compensation, perks, status, etc. Execs work to protect themselves, the stockholders and the employees (more or less in that order.) Employees do their job as well as they can for self-satisfaction and to put food on the table.
    You have to peel away the corporate hide and see what is going on inside. That is what will send that dumb, brainless thing called a corporation in one direction or another.

  46. mbotta says:

    capitalism being the ideology in which production resources are owned by the few, it is hardly surprising that our political system is optimised to take advantage of the concentration of capital resulting from this skewed ownership of resources.

    you vs. the corporations? it’s the haves vs. the have-nots. capitalists vs. riffraff. and you are not the capitalist in that equation.

  47. ownahome says:

    Try True Globalization at trueglobalization.com, a book about this very subject.

  48. garrisongold says:

    I think the entire problem is one of “shared pain”.

    I know it is not as simple as “those greedy corporations are bad guys who shipped our jobs overseas to line their pockets”.

    Corporate marketing departments and strategic planning departments project sales revenue at various price points along a price continuum. Given the fact that an overpriced item or service visa vi the competition, means diminishing revenues, they are forced to deliver highest quality/lowest cost at a given market price.

    This leads to operating cost efficiency analysis such as “buy vs build”. Clearly, buying from China vs building in the U.S. has proven to be the strategy of choice (albeit forced in many cases).

    Civil service workers have continued to receive healthy rises in wages and benefits and have not experienced much of the pain borne by those in the private sector.

    But the fact remains, this process of buying from S.E. Asia and other emerging markets is a limited short term strategy that focuses on next quarter or annual results, over consideration of the long term damage to the U.S. economy. The result is the middle class from the private sector caught in a squeeze, with diminishing opportunities, declines in real income, spiraling national debt and more and more people sliding into poverty.

    For global corporations and people working in the public sector, there is no problem. S & P corporations are earning record profits and people in the public sector continue to look forward to a comfortable retirement and many just feel that if their is a fiscal problem we should just tax the public with higher rates or borrow money to fund any shortages.

    Until we have shared pain, such as local and state governments filing bankruptcy, and policies to squeeze S & P 500 global corporate returns, we are going to be divided. I don’t say that out of vindictiveness, only out of the belief that many people’s perceptual screen filters out data and ideas in such a way that there own welfare comes first. Its just human nature.

  49. TMock says:

    RE: tesky’s questions – “I have a question: HOW did this happen? Is this simply due to the rise of corporations since the nineteenth century? Power corrupts? Or perhaps a lack of campaign finance reform? Was the corporate takeover of the government a collusive effort? Most importantly, what is the remedy?”

    Balance in Contentious Times
    November 2008 – http://www.sldi.org/newService/SLDINov2008.html

    In what surely will be noted as one of the most remarkable stretches in history, we have had a collapse in the housing market, which triggered a meltdown in our financial systems, which has now created a slowdown in economies around the world — all in short order. With all these financial woes weighing on investor confidence, I couldn’t help thinking of what President Thomas Jefferson said in 1802:

    “I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”

    Fast forward to 2008, specifically to former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan’s recent testimony to a House Oversight Committee hearing on the roles and responsibilities of federal regulators in the current financial crisis. He acknowledged to the hostile panel of questioners that the crisis exposed flaws in his thinking about the working of the free market system, telling the Committee that his belief that the banks would be more prudent in their lending practices because of the need to protect their shareholders had been proven wrong by the crisis.

    This “once-in-a-century credit tsunami” has come to a head just weeks before the electorate goes to the polls to pick both local candidates for office and a new president. Whichever party wins will make history as well. The barrage of extraordinary events makes for fascinating times and presents a rare opportunity for strategic long term investment, according to seasoned experts such as Warren Buffett. But politically, it can be treacherous sledding, as personal angst and partisan fervor are unleashed full blast. In his Farewell Address, George Washington was particularly adamant in warning the nation that this “spirit of party” was “not to be encouraged” because it was – “A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.”

    T. Boone Pickens, Al Gore and the Sierra Club are creating strange bedfellows and setting an example of non-partisan collaboration by discussing the combination of domestic wind power and natural gas in an aggressive US domestic energy plan. In a related effort to provide a bridge from the current inefficient, carbon-heavy electric grid toward more sustainable development, SLDI-member HBH Gas Systems is partnering with land developers nationwide to provide central community propane gas systems – bringing clean-burning gas fuel to communities where it was otherwise not available.

    Innovative collaboration is the answer. See the SLDI Pilot Sustainable Land Development Best Practices Model – http://www.sldi.org/images/Research/sldi%20in%20focus%20-%20world%5C%27s%20first%20sldbp%20system%20introduced.pdf

    Your participation and comments are welcome.

    Sustainable Land Development International

  50. Patriley says:

    This article is spot on to this issue, but consider a further possibility. The multinational corporations are controlled by some of the same “shadow power” figures that hang around with the people that control the large investmentand central banks, the statist media, etc. In other words, the global government power elites that own the politicians and are the true authors of the stampede to one-worldism. It is no longer a “conspiracy theory” to say that the true power is in the hands of a small elite cadre that elect the visible ones with their money. Their money, of course, is the derived in unlimited quantities by means of the franchise to create all of the money from nothing, to control the quantity and cost of money for the masses. The Demopublicans are purely to placate that masses by allowing them the illusion that they have some hand in government through the electoral process.

  51. daf48 says:

    Kurt Vonnegut called this in 1979. He said the real political parties were the winners and the losers, and the fix was in. The republicans and democrats both part of the winners. Social Darwinism is back in vogue.

  52. jal64 says:

    One needs to include the unions in all this. Especially the national unions such as Teachers, SEIU etc. At the state and local level the public unions impact the public debate as much as any corporation, if not more. Plus they are more damaging to the local economy.

  53. Daedelus says:

    Vonnegut in 1979. Vaclav Havel in 1991, in too many articles and interviews to count after the Velvet Revolution. This disintegration of left versus right has been the trend since the end of the cold war. It’s the totalitarianism of consumerism — all that is left of our humanity is our ability to consume and the value that corporations can derive from that consumption.

    There must be something better we can build around here than that.

  54. Spectre says:

    @ Apinak et al,

    The trouble with governmental systems that place humans in a position of “power” over other humans, is that they always are and forever will be suspect to corruption and failure. This holds true for every known system of government, whether it is democratic or dictatorial. Think critically. Can a dictatorship be freer than a democracy…? There are no absolutes in this world, but with the right human in power, why can’t a dictatorship be freer? Let’s change the question and apply it to democracies. Can a democracy be less-free than a dictatorship? The answer that results applies the same logic – with the right people in power, why can’t a democracy be less-free?

    Would you rather live in a country with a dictator that completely defines and strictly enforces property rights, and allows the people to carry-out whatever endeavors they wish so long as they don’t violate other peoples property rights -OR- would you rather live in a country where officials are democratically elected, yet only serve their self and special interests? Admittedly, the country with a dictator may be reductio ad absurdem, but it hinges on the point I’m trying to highlight: that we humans by nature are imperfect creatures of folly. We place our own individual trust in other humans based on human-constructs like left vs. right, etc. Humans are not unlike their wild counterparts in nature. We are organisms seeking to maintain and/or ehance our own individual survival, given the system with which we exist. That is any organism’s endgame -whether they are conscious of it or not. However, the means by which humans use to achieve that endgame merits critical appraisal at the very least.

    What are the means by which humans in positions of power over other humans, have already used or are going to use, to maintain and/or enhance their own individual/familial survival on Earth? Should humans trust other humans and their constructs so willingly? Human actions are purposeful, but we can not know the purpose of every man’s action nor the course of future events according to the knowledge of today. Obeserve however, that man’s achilles heel tends to be related to that of which he put’s his trust. Trust in other humans (collective government) is at historical highs while trust in oneself (self-government) is at historical lows. Could there be reversion to the mean on the horizon? It’s anybody’s speculation at this point.

  55. [...] article referenced is The Left Right Paradigm is Over: It’s You vs. Corporations. The essential point for me is the age-old conflict of greed vs. the common good. And, as history [...]

  56. stevenjs says:

    @stevenjs – the new word for tyranny is communitarianism -
    read Occult Technocracy of Power too”

    @ParadigmLinks — are you kidding? Communitarianism is the hope of the future, here and globally, the well reasoned remedy to socialist state failures, and the death knell of Finance Capitalist “Illuminati” bogeymen. There’s nothing occult or secret or conspiritorial about these non-governmental power brokers, controlling behind the scenes. Toto pulled back the curtain, along with Marx, a very long time ago.

    Why this nutty PS to your fine comment?

  57. embeddedsurfer says:

    The word “corporation” is a boogie man word of the left who hate capitalism. It blinds them that the real enemy is not the corporation concept but its use by powerful financial elites who only use crony capitalism to concentrate power. What we need is de-centralization of all power centers.

    His premise is correct that the left/right is a problem but it is not necessarily obsolete as seen through the responders to this post who just cannot let go of their core left right beliefs. It is more a polarizing distraction so that the financial elite can do their dirty work playing them off each other.

    Here is a non-economic issue that the Republicans and Democrats make no difference on.

    What happened to repealing the Patriot Act? Now in power the Democrats don’t feel Bush went far enough. Get ready for facebook and skype monitoring.


    Those in power want to keep an eye on all of us to prevent any opposition to them.

  58. monimngr says:

    I disagree. The battle is the Establishment against the individual. Sadly this is a battle we are losing with no hope in sight. The establishment is made up of the big corporations and banks, the MSM, politicians and bureaucrats , and the public employee unions. Hang on to gold, guns and food and get ready for a long ugly stretch.

  59. Sauron says:

    Dougc nailed it: I miss Communism. It made the elites behave.

    (Tongue in cheek) Treat corporations as people. 1 vote each, no getting to write legislation,3x and you’re out. They have to pay duty at the border like me. No more free trade just for them. They can be drafted. No tax write-offs for company cars, no limited liability. I’m sure there are more absurdities.

  60. wunsacon says:


    I’m inclined to believe the following (from your link): “She said the changes would not expand law enforcement authority and would involve legally authorized intercepts on calls or e-mails sent by terrorists or other criminals. The changes would allow companies to respond quickly to wiretap requests from local, state and federal authorities.” That blurb is consistent with my own expectations/understanding as well. I.e., governments must still obtain a warrant. This new legislation gives the government the same power it had with our phone systems. (Nevertheless, I agree with your general criticism, even if this one link wasn’t a great example.)

    >> The word “corporation” is a boogie man word of the left who hate capitalism.

    “The left” does not generally hate capitalism, even if some of them might say something like that (probably because either they’re not explaining themselves fully or you both haven’t agreed on definitions). What most of them hate is probably a paraphrasing of what you said in your second sentence (“[capitalism]‘s use by powerful financial elites who only … concentrate power”).

  61. [...] ‘ Love the left right post, you are indeed looking at the big picture. Brought to mind this cartoon I painted. [...]

  62. jessica says:

    The most encouraging thing I have seen in a long while is this discussion and a similar one at Naked Capitalism the other day.
    I see both Barry Ritholtz and Yves Smith as bright and honest inquirers into the question of what is going on here. Both have been willing to look truthfully at the level of dysfunction that we are facing. Even when that leads toward the possibility that both the problems and the necessary solutions are so deep that they and we will need to let go of treasured beliefs.
    I think that the most significant factor at work right now is that no one actually knows how to fix things. Things have changed so much in the past decades that even the best intellectual models and concepts we have to work with have been outstripped. We could fix some of the symptoms, but do not understand yet how to address the root causes.
    I agree with Barry that the left-right dichotomy now serves more to obscure reality than to unveil it. But it is also perfectly human to hold onto it for dear life precisely because we don’t have a clear replacement, yet. We can see some of the details. Obviously, honesty and transparency in key places are indispensable, but currently sorely lacking. So too accountability. But what we do not have, yet, is a vision that ties those together with an understanding of why those are lacking – plus a lot more – and in a way that is coherent enough that the vision itself can help large numbers of people work together to achieve it.
    In saying that it is really corporations versus the individual, Barry has pointed to exactly where the problem lies. We are being picked off one by one, or to be more accurate in small clumps, and played off against each other.
    The solution is that we find a way to come together so that it is corporations vs. everyone else. Or more precisely, the parasitic wing of the current system vs. those working with the new possibilities that we as humans have brought into being.
    Whatever way we do come together will need to be new. Because in the past, people came together based on the ways that they were the same. And we have become much too diverse for that. Not just in the obvious ways, such as racially. We have a vast array of different entertainments, hobbies, interests, job skills. We are more individuated psychologically. That is what we need to build on.

  63. JWPML says:


    These people have been inslaving us for 50 years. They are the Al Capones & John Dillingers of our time.
    We must stop doing business with criminals

    We know who these people are. They own the polititations and they own us.

  64. [...] don’t think so.  It’s been for too profitable for the media and political classes.  However, Barry Ritholz asks us to shift our paradigms and move to a new us v them frame. It’s now all about us v corporations. Oh, btw, I know that you know the humans are losing. The [...]

  65. JerseyCynic says:

    Left/Right — both sides of the same coin. They just take turns testing our willful ignorance

    Well said Jessica. Because of our extreme diversity, we all need a new way to come together.

    We need to stop debating about all of the different points of view out there and

    FOCUS ON FACTS VERSUS LIES and not the illusion

    Gekko: It’s not a question of enough, pal. It’s a Zero Sum game – somebody wins, somebody loses. Money itself isn’t lost or made, it’s simply transferred – from one perception to another. Like magic. This painting here? I bought it ten years ago for sixty thousand dollars. I could sell it today for six hundred. The illusion has become real, and the more real it becomes, the more desperately they want it. Capitalism at its finest.

  66. hldboo says:

    The point that you haven’t made is that our President is intentionally fostering Corporatism. His ideal is to have four closely regulated large banks for all banking and not more than two dozen closely regulated corporations for all other industry and services. That way he would have complete control over the entire country.

  67. davecardin says:

    Is The Corporate Party OF, BY And FOR The PEOPLE?

    I think we have become a little less apt to vote on party lines because Grandpa’s dad and his son and all the uncles, etc. voted ALWAYS for the Democrats or Republican parties. To break “family” traditions has been difficult. Independent thinking was unheard of, you do what “everyone” ALWAYS does, vote THIS way. How to change tradition is the old fashion way, EDUCATION. Tell the people the truth over and over until they get the idea that CHANGE is needed and wanted AND THEY CAN do something about it. EDUCATING the masses is what the political machines of the 2 parties are good at, they own most of the media outlets.
    But now you look at your bank account and hours worked and realize a pattern of more going out and less coming in and you see others making more money a month than you do in a year or more and you must start thinking about the WHY? Thats what these articles are about, EDUCATING the masses.

    Doesn’t anyone understand the Michael Milken’s testing the grounds to which high government can allow trillions of “fake” dollars to dictate the economy in an extremely SHORT period of time.

    Fake appraisals and lots and lots of “loot” going into only a small certain percentage of skillful money managers pockets. It happened again, millions of homes magically worth 2-4 times their true value and cashed in. Those TRILLIONS of dollars went into someones pocket and it wasn’t the “dumb” homeowner who “cashed in”. They SPENT it as fast as they could and the funnel it went into was very small. Corporate greed can turn a switch, change QUICKLY an interest rate or two and sing consumer confidence, etc. But did all those trillions of dollars go BACK into the economy or into select pockets i.e. Petroleum, Banking and Insurance. Check out the top 10 richest companies in the world. Two of them don’t even PRODUCE a product, they are the middle man or SERVICE. Service your debts, charge fee’s for access to your own money, charge you $700 to see the doctor (deductible, etc


  68. lagreider says:

    Great article, but it should be titles “You Against The Government. All the bukket points have to do with the evils of government largess

  69. JerseyCynic says:

    “Democracy is the objective of those who aspire to power
    and a stone-in-the-shoe for those who have it”

    “Those who aspire to power are precisely those who should not have it.”

  70. MinnItMan says:

    “I think that the most significant factor at work right now is that no one actually knows how to fix things. ”

    Isn’t it obvious? “You just get under the hood and fix it.” At least 19% of the “public” seemed to agree with that “plan” back when. I would venture that a large portion of the rest thought is was easy, too, they just disagreed about the what and the how, but there was wide-spread agreement that those who disagreed were enemies, mental defectives or outright criminals.

    The “I don’t actually know how to fix things” party is very small. Descartes has a great line when he says (translated and paraphased): “Common sense is the most fairly distributed quality in the world – no one wants more of it than he/she already has.”

    I just watched the Arthur Jensen lecture to/reaming of Howard Beale from Network. The only thing that’s different from 1976 is size of a “big” little screen. *

    “We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there’s no war or famine, oppression or brutality — one vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock, all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused.”

    * IT&T and Union Carbide, the two now-obscure references, have perhaps the most interesting stories.

    Ultimately, the question is whether we are headed towards Kant’s “perpetual peace,” or Nietzsche’s “Last Man.” Or, are they saying the same thing? The ultimate debate between right and left, IMHO, which only the neo-cons and critical theorists really get, revolves around this question.

  71. donyocham says:

    Glad to see you finally picked up on this most vital theme. However, why not have the courage to refer to the corporate/government dynamic as Fascism, which is what it is. Indeed, more people are becoming aware of this dynamic, but there are still an overwhelming number of useful idiots (well intentioned progressives and religious conservatives) to support the left/right paradigm.

  72. [...] Gay Marriage vs. Family Values, School Choice vs. Public Schools, Regulation vs. Free Markets. Read More AKPC_IDS += "3516,";Popularity: unranked [?]SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "The Left Right Paradigm is [...]

  73. [...] for an even bigger picture view, Barry Ritholtz observes that The Left Right Paradigm is Over: It’s You vs the Corporations: The new dynamic, however, has moved past the old Left Right paradigm. We now live in an era [...]

  74. [...] week, Barry Ritholtz, a tad late to the party but with a far larger audience, concurs: The new dynamic, however, has moved past the old Left Right paradigm. We now live in an era [...]

  75. marksf says:

    “Patent protections are continually weakened. Deep pocketed corporations can usurp inventions almost at will;”

    You have got this backwards. Patents put the advantage squarely in hands of the richest corporations. A majority of patents awarded over the last decade are completely frivolous, especially in the area of software. Large companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Oracle have laid claim to much of the “neat ideas”, and claimed it as their “property”.

    Large corporations can afford large legal teams to shake down small companies. Even the potential threat is an extreme disincentive to innovate, because the patents and the process are so vague. What really happens is that the largest companies run the show, and everybody else is shut out.

  76. Phil T says:

    U.S. House Unites to Push China on Yuan as Frustration Mounts

    Following on from your “We the people Vs the Corporatocracy theme”, which my posts have long proposed, now we get into a trade war with China so that Congress can further obfuscate the issues and protect their Corporate masters?

    The fact is that most US Corporations pay single digit tax rates because of transfer pricing, trademark and licensing agreements etc through tax havens. The value added in China, other than salaries and wages, is very small because all the profits accrue to MNC’s again using these financial tricks. MNC’s SHOULD be the target of the anger because it is they who are sending all the manufacturing jobs overseas, creating cycle high profit margins and cycle low tax rates in the process.

    Kind regards and keep up the great work,


  77. PBH says:

    Great job ! This is absolutely spot on in my opinion “We The People” must find a way to organize on all levels of society, to demand through action that our voice be heard. Easier said than done I know. Only when the voice of millions of Americans united demand change will change occur. Even then the obstacles will be great but we must continue to fight…..

  78. kaipan says:

    Obama’s name has been mentioned only 10-15 times. That’s amazing because the real problem the US faces is the widespread gullibility, naivete, or stupidity on part of the American people.

    Like silly sheep, they follow any goat that will lead them.

    It was obvious from the beginning that Obama was a fraud. He was nothing more than a sock puppet controlled by the same people who controlled Bush, Clinton, Bush, Carter, ad infinitum.

    Obama was chosen to be President simply to give the masses an illusion that change was going to happen. A black President was “change” but only in the color of the wrapping. Obama was not going to change anything. He simply gave the US rulers breathing room from the international and domestic attacks it was under from the policies of the Bush Administration.

    Obama is the traditional black patsy. He will inherit the blame for the (organized) default of the US dollar; he will inherit the blame for the loss of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan; he will inherit the blame for a war with Iran, and he will inherit the blame for a war with China.

    When the American people cannot take it anymore, the sock puppet master will give the gullible masses a woman President. If that does not work, they will install the first homosexual President. By that time, we will see the collapse of the US.

  79. [...] up in all manner of other things. Still, this week’s must read is Barry Ritholtz’s post at The Big Picture, “The Left-Right Paradigm is Over: It’s You Vs. Corporations.” [...]

  80. AnotherBigelow says:

    “The Supreme Court ruled on an obscure taxation issue in the Santa Clara County vs. The Union Pacific Railroad case, but the Recorder of the court – a man named J. C. Bancroft Davis, himself formerly the president of a small railroad – wrote into his personal commentary of the case (known as a headnote) that the Chief Justice had said that all the Justices agreed that corporations are persons.

    And in so doing, he – not the Supreme Court, but its clerical recorder – inserted a statement that would change history and give corporations enormous powers that were not granted by Congress, not granted by the voters, and not even granted by the Supreme Court. Davis’s headnote, which had no legal standing, was taken as precedent by generations of jurists (including the Supreme Court) who followed and apparently read the headnote but not the decision.”

  81. ToNYC says:

    Gekko: It’s not a question of enough, pal. It’s a Zero Sum game – somebody wins, somebody loses. Money itself isn’t lost or made, it’s simply transferred – from one perception to another. Like magic. This painting here? I bought it ten years ago for sixty thousand dollars. I could sell it today for six hundred. The illusion has become real, and the more real it becomes, the more desperately they want it. Capitalism at its finest.

    This gold, this stock, this bond, this commodity…..price appreciation means you won on that particular go-round on the carousel…doesn’t mean you won, big fish in a little pond, ’till along comes a bigger one.
    The reality is the same. Stuff is stuff, so what do you need it for? The Equity however, and ownership of the IP, does something that only mankind can appreciate and create the new paradigm.

  82. Murray Hill Inc.

    Corporation Running for Congress Runs Radio Ads Supporting Boehner, O’Donnell Opening Salvo in National Media Campaign to Elect Corporate-Friendly Candidates

    Murray Hill Inc., the first corporation to run for Congress following the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission case, is running ads on Ohio and Delaware radio stations in support of Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) and U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell (R-DE). The corporate candidate plans to roll out this campaign to other congressional districts and states between now and the November election.

    The 30-second ads hail the candidates for their opposition to the Disclose Act, the legislation sponsored by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) that would blunt the impact of the Court’s ruling protecting the rights of corporations to make unlimited, undocumented campaign contributions. Murray Hill Inc.’s campaign against Rep. Van Hollen in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District has received national and international press coverage, including a front-page story in the Washington Post, NPR’s All Things Considered, CBS’ Face the Nation, CNBC, the BBC, and the New York Times and Newsweek online, and numerous national and local radio interviews. Murray Hill Inc.’s campaign video has received more than 220,000 views on YouTube.

    “The sinister forces of anti-corporate bigotry are gathering to limit the free-speech spending rights of America’s great corporations,” Murray Hill Inc. said in a statement. “Thankfully, true patriots like John Boehner and Christine O’Donnell know that corporations are people too, and they have an inalienable right to wield unchecked power in our elections.”

    “We often hear that we have the ‘best Congress money can buy,’” says Murray Hill Inc., “but sadly, this ideal remains elusive. Our goal is to elect a corporate Congress whose loyalty and votes can be openly sold, leased and traded. These priorities are important to John Boehner and Christine O’Donnell, and they are important to the American people.”

  83. [...] First, we must be cognizant that the establishment seeks to divide us by using such vile tactics as labeling progressives as “evil communists” and the Tea Party libertarians as “racists.”  Naturally, old-school civil rights liberals hate racists, and free-market conservative purists hate communists. Can we not see that the establishment knows precisely what buttons to push to keep us from uniting?  These false labels are irrelevant in our current struggle with a tyrannical Corporate State. [...]

  84. [...] previously discussed, your prior concept of Left Right politics are no longer operative . . [...]

  85. NickAthens says:

    The original concept of capitalism embraced entrepreneurialism. It no longer does.
    So we have big corporations seeming control ove rthe minions as well as small companie swho try to attack them.
    The system needs to evolve to provide offsetting competitive advantages to small companies vis a vis the large ones.
    I always say when elephants battle the mice get trampled.
    I also say there is no defense against a swarm of “bees” and that shoudl be our military strategy as well.
    A society comprised primarily of entrepreneurial “bees” would be an exciting one.
    it is a race beace the unions and government are creating a society of “flies”.

  86. porttownsend says:

    One of most perceptive and accurate commentaries on our corporate state that I’ve ever read. Thanks.

  87. reachyourmarket says:

    I disagree on two points:

    1. I think the left/right paradigm is changing and possibly fading, but I think the individual has more power now than ever before. The world is flat and corporations are shaking in their boots over what individuals might say, buy, watch, follow or retweet. If individuals only knew the power they have (and cared), they could wield it for significant change.

    2. Corporations are people. People vs. corporations doesn’t make any sense because corporations = people. Now, do people behave differently when they are in a group or when they are influenced by pressure, money, etc? Sure. But there’s nothing evil about corporations just like there is nothing evil about the internet. Can both be used for evil? Yes. But it’s not the medium or the form of organization that does selfish things. It’s PEOPLE in the organization. It’s PEOPLE on the internet. People are just people. If we’re going to start outlawing or limiting institutions that might encourage or enable people to act selfishly, we’re going to have a lot of work to do. A better approach is to focus on PEOPLE, and insist on raising business, political and cultural leaders who are strong enough to resist temptations to cheat.

  88. davidryal says:

    I tend to think that rather than replacing the left-right paradigm, individual vs. corporate interests are more like the y-axis to the political x-axis on a 2-d graph. I have a nice diagram with all the major parties and interests on it if you’d like to see. :)

  89. henderson says:

    How about the trillion-dollars in cash offshore that just wants to come home oh so bad, but the companies refuse to pay the taxes on their offshore earnings (and, I would suspect, put the tax liability into earnings).

    ~3/4 of a trillion for TARP
    ~3/4 of a trillion for stimulus
    ~1.5 trillion for QE1
    ~600 billion for QE2
    ~350 billion to bring back offshore cash to buy back stock and pay bonuses

    Once that is done, and the nests have been feathered, I expect us to hear, and be told, that we need to get used to a new standard of living because there is no more money for handouts.

    Good post, Barry.