On the last day of the year, I like to think back about the truths I learned this year. Some were revealed accidentally, others were the work of challenging data analysis. We happened upon some Truths during deep contemplation, and occasionally stumbled across them accidentally.

And of course, there was Wikileaks.

Regardless of your method, with a little digging, truth seekers were regularly rewarded. When you find it, often, it is not pretty; the Truth will destroy long held, cherished myths. But if you are an investor, you must go through this process on a regular basis.

If you can identify where the masses’ subjective view of reality is wrong, and then time when they begin to realize this, there are good investment returns to be had. A bonus of this process is some small measure of personal enlightenment.

In 2009 and 2010, I learned that Corporate America took over the political process via their exhaustive lobbying efforts. What was once a Democracy is now a Corporatocracy. Just because I personally despised this result did not prevent me from profiting from it. Hardware, software, and research all cost money. I can promise you it is much easier to fight the powers that be when you have an unlimited Amex card — and cold hard dollars fiat printed Fed money — to help you.

Exactly how far has the takeover gone? The corrupt US Supreme Court provided a sympathetic venue for the creation of corporate rights never envisioned by the Founding Fathers; Congress has become a wholly owned subsidiary of America, Inc. The White House talks a good game of smack, but genuflects in order to beg for job creation.

Politicians do the bidding not for the people, but for the corporate establishment. Those people who want to blame the barking, snarling government for all the woes of the world do not want you to look further up the leash to see who is giving the commands. These corporate apologists pretend to be philosophers, but in reality they are mere Fellatrix, bought and paid for by their lords and masters.

Fearing a corporate takeover of the nation isn’t nearly as radical as it sounds. Thomas Jefferson reviled the idea of big corporations: “I hope we shall…crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and to bid defiance to the laws of our country.” Jefferson knew the influence bankers could have on a nation’s soul, and he was horrified by it.

No less a figure than Dwight D. Eisenhower — five-star Army general, Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe during World War II, responsible for planning and supervising the successful invasion of France and Germany, who then became the 34th President of the United States from 1953 until 1961 — warned that “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” He knew it was not just the military, but the entire existing corporate structure that sought to take advantage of their influence in order to thwart legitimate competition, skew Federal contracts, and exempt themselves from taxation and regulation.

What might Eisenhower have said about the bailouts, and enormous decrease in banking competition?

The surprising thing about this anomaly is that there are enormous incentives to find the objective truth. Often, it seems like the reality gets buried under a mountain of conflicting interests, with power and money and influence on one side and We, the people on the other.

However, the credit crisis and collapse has taught us one very important lesson: If you continually search for that nugget of reality, if you are willing to roll up your sleeves and sift through the vast mounds of horse shit that Wall Street and Washington regularly serve up, there is indeed, a pony somewhere in there.

That is your job in 2011: Go find the pony . . .

>

Previously:
The Left Right Paradigm is Over: Its You vs. Corporations (September 27th, 2010)

Seeking the Truth — Or Obscuring It? (August 20th, 2010)

Category: Investing, Legal, Philosophy, Really, really bad calls

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.

76 Responses to “Searching for the Truth in an Age of Disingenuousness”

  1. Mannwich says:

    “Go find the phony”? Just singular? BR – they are everywhere these days. Shouldn’t be hard to do.

    “Fellatrix”. LOL. ‘Nuff said.

  2. Mannwich says:

    Did you coordinate your post with PK? Seems he’s already on the case and ’10 isn’t even over yet.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/31/opinion/31krugman.html?_r=1&hp

  3. r says:

    I agree that this presents 1/2 of the story. Public and private unions also have their piece as well. Barry, you would appear less bias if you present the other side of the story… Consider watching these documentaries, then commenting on how public and private unions and their influence on the govt.

    Who killed the EV?
    Inside Job (Freddie, Fannie)
    Waiting for Superman – teachers union funded the overthrow of michelle rhee in DC
    http://www.pensiontsunami.com/
    New health care legislation – Unions are exempt from paying the Cadillac plan tax.

    If we also could hear about the other 1/2 of the story, we could see ……..the big picture.

    ~~~

    BR: 1/2? Do you think the Unions in America are equal in power in influence to Corporations? That is simply a silly suggestion. Its not remotely comparable . .

    FAIL

  4. Winston says:

    This is an unvarnished work of keen intellect. I especially like this part:

    Exactly how far has the takeover gone? The corrupt US Supreme Court provided a sympathetic venue for the creation of corporate rights never envisioned by the Founding Fathers; Congress has become a wholly owned subsidiary of America, Inc. The White House talks a good game of smack, but genuflects in order to beg for job creation.

    “Obama encourages business” must be the most common conjugation among business/politics stories of 2010.

    genuflecting indeed.

  5. MayorQuimby says:

    “The White House talks a good game of smack, but genuflects in order to beg for job creation.”

    Ahh – one of the best quotes of the year.

    And this is the key to it all – the ‘owners’ of the system have everyone and everything hostage. It can’t possibly be the outcome envisaged by the creators of the Federal Reserve System but it is a situation that MUST be remedied or this nation is going nowhere but dowwwwwwn.

  6. Brit Trader says:

    I love it when you get your pissy on.

    The obvious-to-anyone-who-looked corporate takeover in America is your irritant, and this post is your pearl.

  7. tesky says:

    People don’t want the truth. Math makes their heads hurt. They want American Idol. They want Sarah Palin AND Kate plus Eight at the same time.

    Same story, different millenium. Bread and Circuses. Emperor Murdoch is kicking it old school.

  8. steveh18 says:

    Good work, Barry.

  9. r says:

    “BR: 1/2? Do you think the Unions in America are equal in power in influence to Corporations? That is simply a silly suggestion. Its not remotely comparable . . ”

    The link below shows the facts. Eyeballing it – if the unions aren’t 1/2, they are close to it. I’m surprised at the American Indian influence.
    http://www.followthemoney.org/database/top10000.phtml?PHPSESSID=05a0c25f15b63008a8d7a6e10ffdf587

    ~~~

    BR: The link below as you presented shows all 50 state legislatures, 1000s of county and town elected officials, plus the Federal Government.

    Of course, collectively, the 10000s of local and all 50 state lobbying dollars outweigh Federal lobbying efforts. But I have never really written about, or cared much for issues like local sanitation pick up, board of education functions, or parks maintenance. That is the bulk of state and local issues, and its what the link you pointed to referenced.

    If you look at the Federal list — you know, the trillions that are spent each year, plus fin reform regs, HAMPS, the bailouts, and all the things this blog actually discusses, you can see who the top donors were:

    1 ActBlue
    Liberal Policy Organization $23,183,948
    2 GOLDMAN SACHS
    Securities & Investment $6,075,376
    3 AT&T
    Telecom Services & Equipment $5,422,955
    4 JP MORGAN CHASE & CO
    Miscellaneous Finance, Insurance & Real Estate $5,214,200
    5 CITIGROUP
    Miscellaneous Finance, Insurance & Real Estate $5,118,137
    6 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
    Real Estate $4,878,390
    7 INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS
    General Trade Unions $4,716,921
    8 GENERAL ELECTRIC
    Miscellaneous Manufacturing & Distributing $3,949,059
    9 MORGAN STANLEY
    Securities & Investment $3,835,635
    10 American Bankers Assn
    Commercial Banks $3,784,361
    11 MICROSOFT
    Computer Equipment & Services $3,590,741
    12 BANK OF AMERICA
    Commercial Banks $3,503,702
    13 COMCAST
    Telecom Services & Equipment $3,502,852
    14 AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR JUSTICE
    Lawyers & Lobbyists $3,420,090
    15 INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIRE FIGHTERS
    Public Sector Unions $3,375,750
    16 BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD
    Insurance $3,345,172
    17 UBS FINANCIAL SERVICES
    Miscellaneous Finance $3,320,389
    18 TIME WARNER
    TV & Movie Production/Distribution $3,255,038
    19 National Auto Dealers Assn
    Automotive $3,254,500
    20 HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL
    Miscellaneous Manufacturing & Distributing $3,239,77

    ~~~

    The next time we need new swings in the playground or perhaps a new water fitration plant, you can go back to your list.

  10. BusSchDean says:

    Thanks, BR!!!

    re: “r” You are correct that many/most/all unions walked away from their larger responsibility in defense of narrow short-term interests – just like their corporate counter-parts, hence twenty worthless years of GM procrastination and lost market share. As a Michigan native with many family member who were in unions, including my dad, I have few positive comments on their behalf. But, in the rough and tumble MMA world of business&politics (one word) unions are on the mat and most have tapped out. Those that remain have few moves left.

  11. Mannwich says:

    They won’t be truly happy until they have it all. Even then, they still won’t be truly “happy”. More tax cuts please.

    http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/67046/robert-c-lieberman/why-the-rich-are-getting-richer?page=show

  12. JT23456 says:

    What you say is true and I hate what America has become. But I’m retired and live in Mexico and focussed on enjoying the last 15 years of my life. Yes I know Mexico has corruption, but at least it’s a small bite and it’s acknowledged – Justice Roberts should be strung up as a traitor.

  13. phb says:

    BR – would love to hear your thoughts as to where the ponies may be hiding…bring us your best Jeane Dixon for 2011, please.

  14. Jack Damn says:

    Great stuff. Thanks, Barry.

  15. browndlee says:

    If it was only as simple as that Barry. If you (as most liberals don’t) remember the Eisenhower phase was the military, industrial, EDUCATIONAL complex.

    -snip-

    ~~~

    BR: Here is the speech — the words “educational / education / teaching” do not appear it in.

  16. JimRino says:

    You have to marvel at the right, however,
    they pay the Traitors well: Limbaugh, Beck [ audience has shrunk 50% and he's still preaching insanity ], and Fox Lies: Journalistic Hacks, but, with jobs.

    Then there’s the “Tea Party”, funded by the Koch Brothers.
    - Many poor people complaining about the Social Security they are on.
    Can’t wait till they find out, that they will lose their Social Security, and not just “the Blacks”.

    If there is a portion of the rich that are Not Insane, it’s time they got involved in Politics, if it’s not too late.

  17. jaytrader says:

    So as long as one can profit from kleptocracy – All is good?

    ~~~

    BR: Absolutely not — but if the choices are a) living in a kleptocracy while being poor, or 2) living in a kleptocracy while having assets and an ability to determine your own future, I pick the latter . . .

  18. Greg0658 says:

    1st – Thanks Barry

    2nd – Unions had* to invest in the Wall Street System too .. seems the money card was foreign labor and emerging markets .. we’ve already bought the dream – get them up and running so they can buy it too … and the flip side is deflation here – another money card down the road – buy up the depressed assets from the depressed people – resell ‘em back after the beaver dam is broke and the water is flowing again

    3rd – don’t turn to violence to fix it – insurance policies will go defunct .. worse than that – it’d be another kick the can down the road – 8000 years of The Way Forward – The System will go on to another “wash rinse repeat”

    * coda – there are bonds tho – principle repaid with some amount of interest (at least it used to be so) …. pss – but NOW if the super-corps are allowed to go private – best wishes all … you all (we & me by proxy) better start running the super-corps as the sub-owners you, we & me wanted to be apart of

  19. louis says:

    “the influence bankers could have on a nation’s soul” Amen Brother. We are a sleep at the wheel.

    Remember your preambles – We the People. It will take some very dedicated individuals to reclaim what our founding fathers intended.

    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/washing.asp

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8y06NSBBRtY

    Happy New Year!

  20. [...] Barry Ritholtz, “Politicians do the bidding not for the people, but for the corporate establishment.”  (Big Picture) [...]

  21. jaymaster says:

    Good stuff!

    Folks should also keep in mind Eisenhower’s second warning in that speech:

    “Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades. In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

    Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research.

    Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity.

    For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded.

    Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

  22. Joe Friday says:

    r,

    “I agree that this presents 1/2 of the story. Public and private unions also have their piece as well.”

    Unions operate as a democracy. One man, one vote. I’m always amazed at the opposition to collective bargaining.

    Not to mention that ‘Waiting for Superman’ is a scam.

  23. TerryC says:

    Not to worry, the coming military coup of 2012 will take care of everything and sort this all out. See below:

    http://www.uwec.edu/sfpj/Origins.pdf

    This was written by air force Lt. Col. Charles Dunlap (now Maj. Gen.). in 1993 as part of a thesis for the war college. It is pretty eerie has still has lots of truth to it. Pretty prescient work for 17 years ago. We’ll see if it comes true. (Maybe the military tribunals of 2012 will line up and shoot all the bankers and politicians).

  24. Sechel says:

    Nothing made this more clear to me than in the middle of the Financial Crisis, Barney Frank & Harry Reid decided what the country most needs is “on-line gambling”. This just gets a giant WTF from me.

  25. Brett Tibbitts says:

    We are still policing the world when we can no longer afford it. We are wasting trillions of dollars on this policing and it is bankrupting us. Are corporations truly the reason for the continued policing? Of course, there are the large military contracting companies that lobby left and right for more business. But are they REALLY why we entered Iraq and Afghanistan or was it failed leadership by our elected “leaders”who continue to think that it is our role as a country to be the world’s policeman?

  26. seana0325 says:

    Pre-Happy New year Barry!

    Any chance you can do a follow up on your thoughts
    in relation to your ’4 parts of a secular bear market’?

    Gun to head:
    Do you think we see the SnP trade in the 900s again, during this bear secular market?

  27. jwagner says:

    “So as long as one can profit from kleptocracy – All is good?”

    I don’t recall anyone saying it’s good, but if your job is working in an investment company, it’s something that must be recognized. Having this contrary and cynical perspective as part of the overall view at Fusion is one of the big reasons I trust them to be a steward of my $$$. Unfortunately I agree with it 100%. The challgeng for the new year is to figure out what I can do to help fix the problems without getting obsessive and depressed about what I can’t change.

    Regards,
    Jim

  28. Tim says:

    ….and let’s not forget the torches to find ‘em, the pitchforks to poke ‘em, and some shovels to dig for the pony…

  29. FrancoisT says:

    Thanks for this unvarnished look at the situation Barry. Much needed and appreciated.

    The present edition of the SCOTUS is a national embarrassment, no doubt about that. I mean, there are enough brain dead idiots in this country that believe they’re the best we’ve had since FDR, but it’s good to remind oneself there is a Flat Earth Society, and some books promote the fantasy that Earth is only 6,000 years old.

    r: Your argument suck to no end. No more than 7 % of the private work force in the USA is unionized. And you want to equalize this puny number with the humongous amount of after tax profits made by the Fortune 500? You should have restrained to write anything, because now, everyone here knows you cannot possibly think for yourself.

    I can assure you that around here, this is not good.

    Not good at all.

  30. S Brennan says:

    BR,

    I am glad to see IKE revived at every opportunity. I am sure you know my politics by my comments.

    When I describe the political landscape, I find the left-right illustration non-descriptive, instead I group by alike policies. So unlike the NYC-DC nexus:

    I group FDR/IKE/LBJ together as men who learned and knew the disaster of allowing private moneyed interests to rule a country unfettered by laws.

    While I group Bush[the 1st]/Clinton/Bush[the 2nd]/Obama as clueless on the cause of the Great Depression and it’s hand maiden Fascism. In fairness to Bush[the 1st] and Clinton they stand a factor of 10 above Bush[the 2nd] & Obama in terms of world understanding.

    I put Nixon/Carter/Reagan in between. Reagan may seem like an outlier for the middle crowd, but he was far more respectful of FDR’s policies than his wrecking crew ever was.

    The important point is grouping FDR/IKE/LBJ together

  31. Raleighwood says:

    Greed is out of control and shame is non-existent.

    If I were to find the pony I’m sure it would just kick me in the teeth.

    I can’t even envision rioting in the streets – the dark side has become both so amorphous and ubiquitous – who or what can we point to long enough for the populace to agree is an actual enemy? Any pointing would have to be done during the commercial breaks.

    Happy New Year.

  32. ottnott says:

    To go one step past recognition that corporations dominate the county’s levers of power, there is a very small number of people who operate the levers of power within the corporations.

    Unchecked corporate power is a destructive force in our country, but there are individual humans creating and using that force.

  33. Vineyard Views says:

    Twenty or thirty years ago a piece like Barry’s would have been written by a ‘nutter’ and no rational person would believe it. Now as decade 1 of the 21st century ends, Barry’s thoughts are not considered bizarre. In fact, they describe our world.

  34. Jojo says:

    We need to take the bull by the tail and look the situation in the eye…

  35. CB says:

    @raleighwood-
    I can’t even envision rioting in the streets – the dark side has become both so amorphous and ubiquitous – who or what can we point to long enough for the populace to agree is an actual enemy? Any pointing would have to be done during the commercial breaks.

    Yes I think you nailed it – if only the populace was aware enough to consider the originators of the commercial breaks. But that’s entertainment – bread and circuses again.

    happy 2011 all

  36. ancientone says:

    S Brennan,
    Your kind treatment of Nixon and Reagan are misguided. Nixon was the one that took us off the gold standard (after all, cheaper currency means more exports) which led to a decade of inflation brought about by OPEC’s refusal to let the value of oil go down with the dollar. Reagan was a sleazy salesman who convinced the mostly ignorant public that government was the problem, when it was the only thing keeping the super rich from economically devastating the rest of us. Neither one helped the middle class. Carter was merely a bug drowning in a big pond.

  37. S Brennan says:

    ancientone,

    I was creating usable scale, both Nixon & Reagan, whatever their flaws are not the nut jobs the Bush/Obama administration is. Ideologically [judged by action not words] we have never had two presidents so alike back to back as the Bush/Obama administration is. Ten years of the same stupid policies, if this offends the Obama is God crowd, too bad, if this offends the I only vote Democrat, no matter what the policy on offer is, too bad.

  38. alyosha says:

    BR – You have a way of getting right to the point. If I had to explain to a Martian what happened in this country, your succinct description, focusing on a few key events, cuts through millions of words, mountains of noise. Bravo! and Thank you.

    I came to the same conclusion about ten years ago. At that time, I was a Green, the 2000 Democratic convention came to my town (Los Angeles), and I saw Ralph Nader’s “corporate duopoly” in action – limiting political ideas and choice to only a few “safe”, establishment candidates. A few months later, and the Supreme Court installed W, who took the country even further to the right, cementing the oligarchy into power, and bankrupting the nation in the process. I shed my tears for this country (literally) when we invaded Iraq in 2003 – for I knew it was based on lies – we had totally lost whatever moral legitimacy we formerly enjoyed. The USA has turned into something I no longer recognize, and I am actively planning to get out, for I can see what is coming.

    It was during the Bush years that I realized I can apparently see things others cannot. When 90 % of the country was rallying around Bush and his war on terra, I knew it was bullshit. I was later proven right – there were no WMDs. I came across the saying “visionaries thrive”, and have adopted it as my motto. In a time of sophisticated, manufactured reality that is promoted by nearly all establishment media, even by those who should know better, being able to cut through this smokescreen is a survival skill that is and will command a great premium. “Visionaries thrive” is something I am actively taking to the bank.

  39. browndlee says:

    I know, you are trained as a lawyer. Even though Eisenhower used the phrase military, industrial, educational complex a number of times through the years, and as you can see by reading the speach he referred to it for several paragraphs in this speach I guess you are technically correct. In his address he didn’t use that exact phrase. Hooray, the lawyer wins a technical decision. You should go into politics where that kind of nickle and dime differentiation wins the day.

    ~~~

    BR: Let’s review: You completely missed the point of one of the most famous Presidential addresses in history, and did so in order to somehow jury rig it into a pet issue of yours, which has nothing to do whatsoever with either a) the original post or 2) Eisenhower’s speech.

    And I am the one doing “nickle and dime differentiation?”

  40. Tarkus says:

    “The corrupt US Supreme Court provided a sympathetic venue for the creation of corporate rights never envisioned by the Founding Fathers”

    I am still waiting for Constitutional-Conservative politicians and their supporters to rail against this and decry activist Supreme Court judges who would make laws that were never intended by the Founding Fathers.

    The hypocrisy of their silence is deafening….

  41. willid3 says:

    you know its not really new that we have a Corporatocracy. we just fell back to what we had back prior to the 1930s. and prior to WW2. back in the old days the government was controlled by the top elite 1%. just like now.

  42. dead hobo says:

    Truth? Maybe. The best I hope for is “not a lie”.

    BTW, thanks for another year of allowing me to vent and express, buddy.

  43. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    It’s posts like this that have prompted me to (recently) add TBP to my daily blogbrowse; I generally arrive via Yves excellent NC.

    Agree with Vineyard Views that some years back, a post like this would have seemed ‘nutters’; it’s tragic that it feels so astute today. Also agree with alyosha that being able to try and cut through the smokescreen is a survival skill.

    Part of the problems stem from the SCOTUS… which has devolved into an ideological disgrace. The “Citizens United” decision read as if the majority of the members simply threw up their hands in a panic, while wailing technology! — it’s all just wayyyy too complicated for us to understand. So we give up! The Internet! 500+ channels of teevee! So many avenues to communicate! It’s all scary and complicated, so we’ll just toady to ‘corporations’, even if they are whole owned subsidiaries of Dictators R Us, because that way we don’t have to think too hard. What a disgrace!

    I can’t imagine IKE would have rendered any such decision.
    But then, ‘technology’ didn’t intimidate him and he had an attention span longer than a nanosecond.
    Also, he knew that ‘finance’ was not the alpha and omega of an economic system.

    Great post.

  44. The Window Washer says:

    Barry,
    Thanks for another year of great work.
    I’m ready for another year ride on The Big Picture.
    I did something the other day that suprise me I sent a young guy in his “Education Phase” to your site instead of handing him books to read. I linked to you apprentice book list at my job was done, for now.
    Thanks for all the heavy lifting.

  45. wannabe says:

    I find it ironic that the one group of people you actually single out for opprobrium also happens to be the the only group of people who reliably warn about the dangers of regulatory capture and resulting misallocation of resources. The federal govt expanded it’s scope, reach and spending to unprecedented levels in the years leading up to our near economic ruin. Is your point that it doesn’t have enough money and power?

    ~~~

    BR: No my point is we are fucked. You might have missed it, its so subtle it slipped by unnoticed . . .

  46. BR,

    you offer up a fine thought-piece..with that, I’m not sure what’s Worse–that you are, largely, Correct, or, that so few are willing to give Voice to such Truths (?)

    regardless, keen Sight has, always, been a competitive advantage..

    May yours continue into 2011, and beyond.
    ~~

    as has been said, “The Truth is Out There..”

    “Truth that has merely been learned is like an artificial limb, a false tooth, a waxen nose; it adheres to us only because it is put on.

    But truth acquired by thought of our own is like a natural limb; it alone really belongs to us.”
    - Arthur Schopenhauer

    “The search for truth is more precious than its possession.”
    - Albert Einstein

    “The object of the superior man is truth.”
    - Confucius

    “Truth is the property of no individual but is the treasure of all men.”
    - Ralph Waldo Emerson

    “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crises.
    The great point is to bring them the real facts.”
    - Abraham Lincoln
    ~~

    We’ve so many, Great Ones, that have come before us, our Job is easy. Amazing, to contemplate, that We risk Failing at it.

    Maybe, we’d do well by strating here http://www.wepin.com/articles/afp/ , for a different understanding of where We’re at err..

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/err

  47. Tarkus says:

    In the draft of his historic speech, Eisenhower used the phrase “military-industrial-congressional complex”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military%E2%80%93industrial_complex

    “In the penultimate draft of the address, Eisenhower initially used the term military-industrial-congressional complex, and thus indicated the essential role that the United States Congress plays in the propagation of the military industry. But, it is said, that the president chose to strike the word congressional in order to placate members of the legislative branch of the federal government.”

  48. Andy T says:

    To everyone here who “hates what America has become” or constantly “laments” on the so called “Corpotocracy” and how terrible this country is and how terrible “evil” countries are….

    Either Leave or Do Something About It.

    i.e.:

    Stop banking at Too Big Too Fail Banks
    Stop shopping at WalMart, Target, Kohls, Amazon, etc, etc, etc. Those are all corporations who lobby, right?
    Quit your job at the “Corporation” you work for! Why would you want to work for a lousy corporation?!
    Start demonstrating outside your Congressman’s office to demand change.
    Buy only American made and assembled products.
    If you want to help out Global Warming, start biking or walking to work and turn your A/Cs off during the summer.

    In other words, make your 2011 Resolution to be: “Do Something About It.”

    This kind of kvetching (whining) and persistent lamenting about how “bad things are” is not in the American spirit.

    Get pissed off and do something about it.

  49. S Brennan says:

    Andy T Says: “Either Leave or Do Something About It”

    What Andy T Means: “Either leave, or do what I say”

    I just love the proliferation of mindless authoritarianism

    What people DID in 2006-2008 is vote out of power the Republican party…and guess what Andy? They got the EXACT SAME policies from Democratic leadership. Your list is typical of an elitist who has little contact with the working world most people live in.

    Stop shopping at blah blah blah…instead shop at a trendy boutique.

    Quit your job at the “Corporation” blah blah blah, you might be too clueless to notice, but there aren’t, as a percent of population, to many Americans working at corporations in fact that’s one of the complaints people have…listen, don’t dictate.

    Start demonstrating outside your Congressman’s office blah blah blah. Yeah, get arrested for nothing. Congressmen are paid whores, most people can’t afford to pay for their service.

    Buy only American made and assembled products blah blah blah…I produce products in America and try as I might I can’t follow your dictate, if you had slightest clue you’d know that.

    Walk to work blah blah blah, sure I’ll just get hired someplace convenient…dear God do you know arrogant you sound…

    nuff…

  50. boveri says:

    Wow, well done Barry. It’s the corporate lobby that invented “free trade” which is newspeak for how to hollow out the technological muscle that previously built modern manufacturing facilities here and sent it to China.

  51. falconsgyre says:

    Barry, read you for a long time now, loved every minute, especially your outrage. The eloquence is well recognized. I work for the corporates powers of whom you speak. And the people who work for them are all around us – as employment goes, they are often the only game in town. A crappy one in many ways, but the only one.

    The reality of corruption in America is sinking in. It’s not a way we are used to thinking about our country, notwithstanding Ike’s warning. The crisis exposed it, and showed how much we don’t want to believe – we’d rather fasten it on an unfortunate happenstance or single out an individual. But it’s systemic. Agreed.

    You’ve done a lot – with your book and your various writings – to help with the awareness. But there is still an amorphousness to the discontent in people’s hearts. And the interwoven nature of the problem with our society and culture and form of government and ideological positions and so on that is insidious.

    What do we do? Let’s let a big bank fail – really fail – and take the hit. Let’s apply our laws, as you have often suggested. We really really need some leaders …

  52. gloppie says:

    Thank you Barry.
    May 2011 bring happiness to you, your loved ones, and the nice folks on this blog.
    The others (you know who you are), well I’m not going to say it, this is a cherished time of year.

  53. derekce says:

    It’s amazing that other countries have more choices than Americans at the ballot box . Most countries have multiple parties with a chance to represent them and we get tweddledum or tweddledummer. Americans need to seriously do what’s necessary to blow up the current duopoly. Changes to the current Congressional structure and terms are needed as well as finance reform. Also, national election day should be a national holiday. It’s an important day treat it as such.

  54. philipat says:

    Totally agree Barry. As contributed in many earlier threads:

    1. Corporate profit margins are at record levels because of manufacturing in low cost centres such as China. Manufacturing jobs aren’t going back to the US so unemployment rates will remain high. The political classes blame China and the RMB. But with Chinese workers making USD150/Month, it would make ZERO difference if the RMB DOUBLED in value. But it’s convenient for the Corporatocracy and the political classes who serve them to deflect the blame.
    2. At least the Corporatocracy could pay some taxes in the US? I can’t produce details (BR did once say he would try to run numbers for at least the Companies in the DJ Average) but, anecdotally.any of these Companies very very little tax in the US. Tax deductions for a whole range of items, including research, very little of which is basic research and Transfer pricing through tax haven countries allow this.
    3. Revise the tax code to address all of the above with an AMT for Corporations? Balanced budget amendement to the Constitution? Term limits for all elected officials>Presidentiall line item veto restored? No earmarks?

    Fixed! I’m not holding my breath. Read OP, rinse, dry and repeat.

  55. falconsgyre,

    your Post, specifically: “…The reality of corruption in America is sinking in. It’s not a way we are used to thinking about our country, notwithstanding Ike’s warning. The crisis exposed it, and showed how much we don’t want to believe – we’d rather fasten it on an unfortunate happenstance or single out an individual. But it’s systemic. Agreed.

    You’ve done a lot – with your book and your various writings – to help with the awareness. But there is still an amorphousness to the discontent in people’s hearts. And the interwoven nature of the problem with our society and culture and form of government and ideological positions and so on that is insidious…”

    made me recall this Quote:

    “If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end;if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truthonly soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.”
    - C.S. Lewis

    needless to say, the ‘softsoap’ is, still, b*******, even if it’s 99 44/100% Pure..
    ~~

    as well, this: “…But there is still an amorphousness to the discontent in people’s hearts… the interwoven nature of the problem…is insidious…”

    see: “It takes two to speak truth, one to speak and another to hear.”
    - Henry David Thoreau

    and, with that, you may wonder if those ‘struggling with the Size and Shape of the Problem’, aren’t, merely, choosing not to Hear–while contenting themselves–being part of the Warp.

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/warp see n. def #4

  56. [...] Weekend Must-Read: Searching for the Truth in an Age of Disingenuousness (TBP) [...]

  57. willid3 says:

    bad news there is an AMT for corporations. they just have it rigged so that they can get around it very easily. and i saw stories in Business week regarding how little corporations actually pay in taxes. a big group pay almost nothing (and a big group of profitable ones pay 0. seems like the only way they pay much in taxes is if the screw up their accounting some where ). and that the same group that wants to lower their tax rates even more. while the stated rate is about mid pack (not that you would ever hear that from them), they want it to be lower still. oh and get out of their way so they can continue to innovate (like their new innovation in the foreclosure business, robo signing! that has worked so well for them). and that innovated loan products (NINJA, stated income, and many others!). and doing the required paperwork to sell the notes??? we don’t need to do stinking paperwork!!!

  58. Almitra says:

    Great post and great comments. My New Year’s resoltuion is to continue to seek the pony.

    I especially like the recognition of the marginalization of Unions. A steady erosion that accelerated with the firing of the Air Traffic Controllers by Reagan early in his first term.

    Labour will rise again, but not where it once was strong. Labour will rise after Capital has run out of cheap, compliant and underexploited peoples. Look to Chindia. Meanwhile, like Barry, adapt to the part of the global economy that is harmonizing down or move to the part that is harmonizing up.

    It’s all good in the long run, if we don’t screw up the planet beyond repair while we sort it all out.

  59. wannabe says:

    BR Says: “No my point is we are fucked. You might have missed it, its so subtle it slipped by unnoticed . . .”

    So the while the federal govt has steadily grown bigger than ever, we the people have steadily gotten more fucked than ever.

    But ever increasing and centralizing govt’s authorities misuse of power and influence is NOT a problem, libertarians are the problem? ???

    The biggest corporations write/buy the regulations/bailouts they want/need. This is facilitated by centralizing power in Washington DC more than anything else. Now it seems that Goldman Sachs has achieved a position of total regulatory capture. They OWN the federal govt completely whose each regulatory failure is rewarded with greater regulatory authority.

    The one group of people you rag on more than any (it seems to me) is the only group of people who even has this issue on their radar.

  60. DeDude says:

    The only entity with sufficient power to have the potential to protect the sheeple from these superpredators is the federal government. So the predators have attacked from two angles, directly by corruption and indirectly by convincing the sheeple that big gobinment is their enemy. Sad thing about an idiocracy, the idiots are free to shoot themselves in the foot.

  61. beaufou says:

    Thank you for sharing freely all this information and knowledge with us year round, and thanks to all the contributors.
    Happy new year.

  62. Forget the pony. I’ll wait until you guys dig it out and buy it on a slight markup.

    That said, it has been over a decade now that the ‘truth’ has been accessible to the masses. The ‘people’ should long ago have coalesced and struck with laser precision. That they haven’t tells me they are more with ‘em than against ‘em. That is what is troubling me.

    I hope that changes. I am also seeing that the psychos that are provoking this fight won’t back down until it breaks out. I don’t know if that is God’s form of justice (the irreversible, compounding momentum of psychopathic behavior) or what but I don’t think this show is over yet. I think we have just seen the end of the beginning and we are setting the stage for what is next

  63. dss says:

    @S Brennan,

    Well said.

  64. mathman says:

    the connection between the White House and Wall Street becoming ever more clear:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/30/alters-the-promise-epilog_n_802866.html

  65. formerlawyer says:

    I wonder if the “corpratist conspiracy talk” is just another way to express class warfare, just without the “socialist” or “communist” taint?

  66. DuchessGateau says:

    EXCELLENT post, BR, and not the first time you have made this point, but it needs repeating. Our new political reality is apparently too painful for people to accept, or too difficult for them to understand. The people are extremely thick, and refuse to recognize reality. Even many who are upset about the Supreme Court decision to treat corporations as individuals (regarding political “speech”) either cannot or will not admit that our government is wholly and obviously owned.

    Never mind the fact that Congress handed Hank Paulson their power of the purse (Congress alone holds that power, and it cannot be “given” to an unelected individual), then Paulson gave trillions to insolvent Wall St banks. A democratic House and Senate worked hand-in-glove with Paulson on behalf of Wall St. (and European banks, but that may not have been known).

    In many ways this issue is similar to the issue of Wall St insolvency, which became very apparent in 2007, but has never yet been admitted by the government, media, many economists, or understood by the public, despite the crash in 2008. They had to “save the system,” but maintain that the banks are completely solvent..!

    Similar to pounding home the realities about the economic crisis, you do the public a great service by reiterating your recognition of the fact that we are screwed. I think that by repeating your understanding of the financial crisis on your blog, TV, NPR, etc. that you have educated many and had great influence. The public truly needs to wake up from its deep torpor regarding our completely sold-out political parties. You and your blog are extremely influential, so thank you for stating what many recognize, but are afraid to say. Politicians are afraid they will be called crazy, or extremists, or disloyal, so it is up to bloggers to broach the subject of reality. Again.

    But it ain’t over till it’s over. We may be screwed in the short run, but can recover over time IF people understand what has happened, and keeps happening. Just as with the financial crisis, it’s important to get this right. We know Wall St bought politicians, but we don’t know how european banks are able to help themselves to billions from our treasury. Obviously there is corruption and influence which compromises our sovereignty, but what or who is behind it, and how far does it extend? Just banks, or governments? How much more will they take? Will the drowning men of Wall St and Europe take the U.S. down with them, or will the U.S. treasury keep all of them afloat? We need our own Nigel Farrage. I nominate Alan Grayson.

  67. DeDude says:

    The corporate Alternative Minimum Tax we need should be 50% of the sum of all bonuses plus the total value of compensation for the 5 top leaders of the company with a flat 10 million deduction to make sure it does not hit small and midsize businesses.

  68. JerseyCynic says:

    Thank you again Mr. Ritholtz for sharing your financial insight.

    Mark E Hoffer says: “We’ve so many, Great Ones, that have come before us, our Job is easy. Amazing, to contemplate, that We risk Failing at it. Maybe, we’d do well by starting here … http://www.wepin.com/articles/afp/

    We need to find a way to get the plebs to start reading the anti-federalist papers. Do you know anyone who “tweets” to a large audience?

    MR. HOFFER — ???? December ’08 ????? PLEASE start posting.
    In re: “we.ve been waiting years”, you write:

    “While I appreciate the sentiment, I am mystified, at the same time.

    As I thought I had made, abundantly, clear, if there are Topics, or Ideas, that you’d like to see, or discuss, feel free..

    One can leave it in the ‘Comments’, or send an email..

    Past that, I will say that I do intend to commence a ‘weblog’, in, fairly, near-time.

    To date, I haven’t felt the need to add to the ever-burgeoning Sea of Dis-/Information available, at this time, on the “i-net”.

    With that, I’ve decided to lay down an electron trail of Fact that hasn’t, to my knowledge, yet hit the WorldWideWiretap..

    Whether this happens @ .blogspot remains to be seen, though, surely, I’ll let you know, if elsewhere..

    In Sum, I hope that all y’all, and yours, are finding the light during these days, and that you have spark, enough, to light a candle in the darkness.

    And, hopefully, we will all Remember the best trade is to: Give what you cannot Keep, to Gain what you cannot Lose.

    As always, any comments, feel free..”

    well, that’s my comment — ???Dec. ’08 ??? (and what “wayne” said in the comments)

    The truth IS out there as ANDY T points out to us.

    Let’s do something about it. I’ve run out of ideas. Maybe my youngest daughter will help (12th grader/hopeful history major)

    some great ideas here:

    http://dailycensored.com/2011/01/01/2011-americans-re-take-their-country-from-psychopathic-orwellian-fascists/

  69. Jersey Cynic,

    you should think about why I listed this Quote: ““Truth that has merely been learned is like an artificial limb, a false tooth, a waxen nose; it adheres to us only because it is put on.

    But truth acquired by thought of our own is like a natural limb; it alone really belongs to us.”
    - Arthur Schopenhauer

    first..
    ~~
    To me, it does little Good, as I was alluding to in the Post, of mine, you were ‘highlighting’, to ” add to the ever-burgeoning Sea of Dis-/Information available, at this time, on the “i-net”.”

    and, your Postulate: “…I’ve run out of ideas…” does, even, less.

    though, really, I’m not sure what your Main Point is..

    also, see: “…As I thought I had made, abundantly, clear, if there are Topics, or Ideas, that you’d like to see, or discuss, feel free..

    One can leave it in the ‘Comments’, or send an email…”
    ~~

    and, note, for Clarity, in this 2-d Medium, I’m not cross, just, to reiterate, “I’m not sure what your Main Point is..”
    ~~

    past all that, thought it was a + that “The Economist” is, finally, getting around to..
    http://www.economist.com/node/17722733?story_id=17722733

    BR’s Post is well-titled.
    ~~
    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/postulate

  70. JerseyCynic says:

    Good Morning Mr. Hoffer,

    Thank you for your reply. Please forgive my lack of clarity above. (I’ll blame it on the ipad — hard to make a point on that thing) I’m on the desktop now.

    When I saw your link to the anti-federalist papers and your comment about it being a good place “to start”, it really struck a chord with me. I have just started reading them. When I clicked on your name above and was redirected to your website, I just assumed you were posting/blogging on the subject. And then after I read your most recent post (12/08), it just threw me off guard I guess. You seem to have the power to really make people think. I wish you would post more — that’s all. I understand how you feel about adding “to the ever-burgeoning Sea of Dis-/Information available, at this time, on the “i-net”.” It appears you have found your “inner peace” — I guess I’m just jealous.

    Maybe it’s time to don those rose colored glasses once again. I removed them when I starting surfing/blogging a decade ago. Haven’t had a good night’s sleep since. Is it possible that I’ve read myself stupid??
    LOVE the Schopenhauer (we share the same birthday) quote.

    I will look for your email addy for further comments. Thanks for your time.

    I put the wrong link in my prior comment. Here is the correct one:

    http://www.examiner.com/la-county-nonpartisan-in-los-angeles/why-we-write-end-orwellian-us-economics-to-unleash-trillions-of-our-dollars

  71. AHodge says:

    Ahhh Eisenhower
    our last good president..most clearly in foreign policy.
    As for being f…..d
    its a democracy
    we only f….d when we
    bend over
    grab our sox
    and say “a little to the left please”

  72. JerseyCynic says:

    “There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.”
    ~Mario Savio

  73. Jersey Cynic,

    just to be Clear, the point, w. The Economist-link, wasn’t to suggest ‘the donning of the ‘Rose-colored Glasses’…

    quite the opposite–I was glad to see that they were focusing on ‘the beginning’ of the “PR ‘Industrial Complex’”

    and, it tied in, nicely, with BR’s Title “searching-for-the-truth-in-an-age-of-disingenuousness”..

    the point was that ‘the Age’ is, quite, longer than many suspect, or care to note..
    ~~

    Savio’s quote is interesting–could be summed as “Defund to Defend”, yes?
    ~~

    though, to your Q: ” Is it possible that I’ve read myself stupid??”, I’d, highly, doubt it.
    ~~

    as an aside, this http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/74412.html in general, seems applicable

  74. [...] Happy New Year. We will try and find some ponies in 2011. Read the rest of the article here. [...]

  75. JerseyCynic says:

    Hello again Mr. Hoffer,

    I understand the point you were making with the PR industrial complex link. I just feel that I, personally, always looked on the brighter side of things — my entire life — until I started surfing the net and blogging. Ignorance IS bliss for sure. I have learned more online than I ever did in HS and college. It just frustrates me so much how so many folks are still so willfully ignorant. There is no excuse anymore, now that we have the internet.

    GREAT READ at rockwell. I happened to catch this post when I read your Economist-link:
    The disposable academic. Why doing a PhD is often a waste of time – http://www.economist.com/node/17723223

    “Defund to Defend” yes yes yes

  76. [...] backlog still growing (FT Alphaville) • The Tyranny of Defense Inc. (The Atlantic) Hey, I was just discussing this! • Why You Shouldn’t Trust Wall Street’s Top Stocks for 2011 (WSJ) • Is [...]