We live in an era of defective government.

This corruption is not an accident. It is the product of years of very patient work. It has been brought about through expensive lobbying, relentless propaganda, agnotology. You can see it in this election cycle, where 196 Americans — 0.000063% of the population — have given more than 80% of Super PAC dollars.

Is it democracy or plutocracy when less than 200 people drive election spending in a nation of 300 million?

Previously, we have pointed out how brazen the lobbying has been to actually cut the SEC enforcement budget. This has created an agency that is defective by design. Take a guess who loses in the battle between you, the individual taxpayer versus the corporation.

Wall Street has taken advantage of the crisis and morphed into a cartel. The tragedy is the only entity that is large and powerful enough to offset their wealth and power are national governments. Yet where ever we look, we see that government has been corrupted and rendered neutered by corporations:

-The Federal Reserve Zero Interest Rate policy is a balm to banks whose balance sheets still have so much bad real estate exposure that higher rates will cause corporate bankruptcy;

-The SEC brings minor insider trading cases while enormous financial crimes go unpunished;

-The Supreme Court has granted natural rights to corporations — rights previously reserved for living and breathing Human Beings;

-The CFTC no longer does the sort of daily audits that can prevent fraud like MF Global and PeregrineFG;-The US Attorney’s office has been captured by the Treasury department, which in turn was captured by large Banks long ago;

-Laws that used to be written by Congressional staffers and academics are now drafted by the regulated industry itself;

-The Attorneys General offices of the states are too timid to sue these same banks for obvious perjury;-Tax loopholes allow wealthy companies to pay very little taxes relative to profits;

-Copyrights that should be in the public domain are retained by companies who have changed intellectual property laws by corrupting legislators.

-The Minerals Management Service (MMS) gives away oil leases and mineral rights for pennies on the dollar.-Money has somehow been equated to speech, turning the idea of “One Person, One vote” on its head.

To function properly, all of these agencies need budgets, a career path for a motivated staff. Yet most of that has been gutted.

Take a look at Neil Barofsky’s book Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street. He describes a Federal prosecutorial system that has been systematically disassembled. There are few career lawyers with the know how, budget and balls to go after the big fish. There is little institutional memory.

We see  this throughout government, a product of even a debate that has been corrupted. The framework is not “How can me make government more effective, efficient responsive?”  Instead, the debate has degenerated into “How can we get government out of the way? How can we make taxes lower?

Its not that I want big government, I want effective regulations. Its not that I want to pay higher taxes, I want efficient government that can accomplish things. I don’t want to live in a corporatocracy, I want to live in a nation where there is a Rule of Law.

The only way to make this happen is to change the campaign finance laws. Without that, we are a plutocracy governed by lobbyists.

Hence:  Its the bankers world, we just live in it . . .

Category: Bailouts, Politics, Really, really bad calls, Regulation

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.

53 Responses to “Defective Government by Design”

  1. Toktora says:

    Wait, I recall you describing yourself as having libertarian leanings – doesn’t that imply the preference for laissez faire market “regulation”?

    This post makes you sound like one of the hippies at Occupy…


    BR: This is about the “RULE OF LAW”, and how Crony capitalism and corruption have distorted and destroyed the marketplace — not theoretical abstractions.

    I guess I missed the OWS protests demanding more audits of Futures Brokerages by regulators . . .

  2. powerpenguin says:

    In authoritarian governments, it’s well known that the role of state-run media purporting blatantly false views is not to promote those views but by creating a plurality of views to cause people to doubt the truth. Very much the same phenomenon.
    It’s particularly interesting that it still works even if people know the state-run media is lying…

  3. Greg0658 says:

    I’ve written/said before – like to see a Facebook type application that we direct our leaders on everything .. they would still need to be elected – to cross the t’s & dot the i’s – and could be back to ditch digging with a vote out next month
    on this meme of corruption and the near immediate fix .. rhetoric at this fervor leads to distructive revolutions .. and that would be a play right out of the milleniums old playbook .. wash rinse repeat
    words & music NOT sport .. slow down – these things take time

  4. webmartians says:

    Hmmm … did you support the DISCLOSE act (that failed to muster enough votes)? I admit, I did nothing. There will be a new attempt today. I will, at least, write emails so that my (er, the “company’s”) representatives will know where I stand.

  5. cpd says:

    And the most frustrating point of all – only a very small portion of the electorate even cares. I guess there are a number of reasons for this:
    1. rampant political partisanship, driven by the mainstream media is a huge distraction
    2. a deteriorating education system
    3. a poor economic climate has people focussed on financial self-preservation
    4. reality t.v. – substantially more people care who wins American Idol than who is stealing from the economy
    5. cynicism with the financial and political systems and the view that nothing can change it except an economic crisis greater than in 2008.

    Count me as part of 5.

  6. I believe its a function of BREAD & CIRCUSES.

    As long as the masses are entertained and reasonably well fed, they will be placid.

    This makes the NFL and McDonalds two of the most strategic enterprises in the USA.

  7. Tarkus says:

    You need to re-read the Declaration of Independence, that says “We The People And Corporations of the United States of America”! That’s probably what the Supreme Court used to make it’s decision….

    The media feeds off the payola loop. Political favors -> Campaign money -> Paid media advertising during elections. Don’t really expect to see the topic in the MSM anywhere…,

  8. Tarkus says:

    “We The People And Corporations” – That’s the Constitution. I should be on the Supreme Court… :D

  9. krice2001 says:

    It’s ineffective government by design, you’ve hit the nail on the head, Barry. It’s insideous and clever and well funded.

    People ask why the tax code is so ridiculously complicated. Many look at that and say this is an example of a non-functional government. But lobbyists have worked hard to create all those complicated loopholes that make it so complex. Simplify the tax code? I don’t see how that will be allowed to happen. Those really big individuals (a.k.a corporations) won’t allow that.

    Seems so devious. Make sure the government can’t do it’s basic functions by declawing regulations and defunding agencies that oversee activities and then complain that we need to get the government out of the way because it doesn’t work.

    How can anyone honestly argue with, “Its not that I want big government, I want effective regulations. Its not that I want to pay higher taxes, I want efficient government that can accomplish things. I don’t want to live in a corporatocracy, I want to live in a nation where there is a Rule of Law.” Amen.

  10. dougc says:

    I would add budwiser, video game providesr and the local pusher to the NFL and Mcdonalds but other than that you have the problem nailed.

  11. farmera1 says:

    This country is ungovernable and IMHO shall remain so I’as we fly in ever decreasing concentric circles until we fly up our own ass with a resounding clang. Here’s five of the main reasons why the future is bleak.

    1. Freedom of speech equals money so says the supreme court.
    2. Corporations are people and have the freedoms granted to people by our constitution so says the supreme court.
    3. Congress is for sale to the highest bidder and that is usually corporations in some form.
    4. Lobbyists write the laws.
    5. The FED and Federal government supports a cancerous banking/financial system.

    With massive corruption, unbridled greed, power in the hands of the few there is zero probability this will end well. I’m preparing for the worst.

    I’ve moved on from fixing the current broken system to preparing for the inevitable outcome.

  12. dead hobo says:

    But what’s really cool is that it doesn’t matter if you notice any of this. It’s still going to go on, lots of people will agree, and nobody will do anything about it. Except occasionally at the margins when someone gets too much attention. Dimon might become a sacrificial lamb. His replacement will be better at hiding corruption, which will continue until the end of time. Whine all you want, BR. Nobody cares. And it won’t make a difference, except among the hand wringer class only.

    Ask me about about commodity oriented asset classes and how they pit wall street directly opposed to main street. Commodities as asset classes are the ultimate embodiment of class warfare. Wall street wants high prices so ETF shares can be sold to greater fools at higher prices. Main street wants lower prices so they can afford to live. Even you, BR, scolded people such as me for being out of touch by your claims that high commodity prices are evidence of a strong economy, as opposed to evidence of a gamed and institutionalized pricing system. Has your opinion about commodity pricing changed more to my way of thinking, or should we all pray for $125 oil to save us from high unemployment?

    Anyway, it doesn’t matter. China has a 1000 year history of civil servant corruption. Don’t expect anything different as long as it is a centralized economy. Nobody cares if the minions suffer as long as the government class retains its accumulations from the prior boom periods. Europe will explode soon only because stupidity, stubbornness, and pride are keeping the crooks off balance. After the euro fails in a few months, crooks will take their rightful place in a shadow government and get things moving again.

  13. Lazlo says:

    I went to post this column on facebook page and the post was tied in with a picture of Jim Cramer and an ad for theStreet.com. How does an ad for a corporate whore like Jim Cramer get attached to this column? Does facebook or wordpress have a method for attaching advertising to financials articles when they are reposted on facebook?


    BR: My guess is algorithms based on the overall content of this site. Either they need better algos, or their advertising model is in trouble!

  14. “Agnatology” is a pathological… but natural (like cancer is natural) emergent characteristic of scaled human society.

    It’s roots are in cognitive limits and is related to our origins as hunter-gatherers (particularly implications of natural human community size also called Dunbar’s Number).

    It stands in opposition to the expansion of “Enlightenment” culture… and repeatedly stalls it.

    Issues in Scaling Civlization: The Monsters-from-the-Id Dilemma

    This is not easily solvable. I’m convinced ‘banning’ contribution opens the door to even more thorough ‘agnatology’… (I don’t imagine North Korea allows much political contribution either)

    However transparency and a more level capability for participation in the lobbying process is essential (but likely not sufficient) for addressing the problem.

    Essential elements of such a capacity include a simple micro-contribution capability and its networking (via an unburdened transaction which is essential). Public funding, open debates, lower costs for campaigning… and tools for localization of political participation are all also needed elements.

    But nothing will be accomplished w/o addressing the psycho/social dilemma embedded in each of us as individuals…

    In a small group we tend to see our role as a ‘decision-maker’ much differently than as a member of a very large group.

    I’d phrase it this way:

    Its in large groups that we seek ‘quasi-mythological heroes’ and simple ideologies to solve our problems. But I’d suggest that in small groups…. whether as a member or a family, a club, or a jury… when confronted with a problem… we have fewer illusions.

    The ‘agantology’ problem requires a persistent and active decision to cultivate an involved… and even skeptical electorate.

    Personal Democracy: Disruption as an Enlightenment Essential

    P.S. Had my first Angel/VC meeting. I may just have something here…

  15. silverfox8028 says:

    You’re dreaming if you think Congress will ever change campaign financing laws to the extent they’ll ever influence the current situation.Or they’ll change them to majority gov’t financing…which essentially precludes new candidates from running without strong party backing…with all the associated baggage.
    The only way to fix the problem is TERM LIMITS. Congressional power comes from influence…don’t give any politician the time needed to gain influence. But achieving term limits is as impossible as enacting real campaign financing.
    The dumbest idea is majority voting by the electorate on individual issues…the majority is always wrong at precisely the wrong times.

  16. MichaelTrader says:

    What if this is the real problem: Democracies throughout all of history, all come to an end? What if all of this corruption is a normal part of that ending process?

    Someone once said that a democracy can only succeed if the voters are intelligent and informed. I don’t know of anyone that would say that our self-centered mob satisfies that criteria.


  17. Neil C Denver says:

    Another step in the right direction is to change the Rules of Congress so that elected ‘representatives’ can actually ‘represent’ their constituents!

    As it now stands, the Senate and House majority leaders can prevent minority parties from representing their constituents in debate, bringing bills to the floor and even making amendments to proposed legislation. This happened with the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare). So it is not only corporations who corrupt, but Congress itself as an institution that’s corrupt.

    SOLUTION 1: The Democrats won the 2008 national elections by approximately a 52% to 48% margin. One solution would be for the minority party, in this case the Republicans, to control 24% (half of their 48%) of the Congressional agenda. This would allow for ‘all’ Americans to have actual ‘representation’ in our Federal government.

    Where I disagree with BR is that true patriots can never be corrupted, whereas corrupt politicians can. I also point out that ‘legislation’ is frequently developed by the Executive Branch, e.g. BOEMRE and HHS. In effect, we no longer have the separation of powers that helped balance legitimate differences among our citizens.

    SOLUTION 2: After the Federal Agencies put some flesh on the bones of the so-called ‘legislation’, Congress should re-approve of the final agency prepared rules and regulations ‘before’ they become law. In this way, Congress will become more accountable and Americans will become represented.

  18. pondside says:

    Thanks for saying what needs to be said.

  19. “…Thanks for saying what needs to be said…”

    as Always, and x2



    maybe, now/soon, We’ll begin to Wonder what “Defund to Defend.”, really, means..~

  20. machinehead says:

    ‘The only way to make this happen is to change the campaign finance laws.’

    Amen, bro! Getting government OUT of the business of running primaries and funding campaigns — an enormous subsidy which has locked in a hidebound political duopoly — would finally open the door to new parties with a reform agenda.

    Defund the PIRP — no more corrupt government financing for the Permanent Institutional Republico-democratic Party!

  21. TLH says:

    The solution is public financing of campaigns. It will take a constitutional amendment. People need to realize that political donations are merely bribes. What was illegal for Walmart in Mexico is legal in this country.

  22. BusSchDean says:

    Barry….well done! The first comment (by Toktora) perfectly illustrates the problem: Through ignorance or for self-serving reasons many want to obsure the true meaning of competitive markets. According to their view if you are not for a winner-take-all society you must not be for capitalism. What part of Adam Smith’s intention to LIMIT THE POWER OF SELLERS do they not understand? Rules and laws have always been part of sustaining competitive markets. Thank you for defending that principle.

    Back in the day Judge Gary (US Steel) invited all the steel executives for a dinner that inevitably ended in fixing the price of steel. Gary just want to even out production and make it all more rational, less competitive, …and more profitable. Perhaps Toktora and his/her ilk follow that thinking.

  23. myold41 says:

    Bread and circuses, works for me. I grew up NOT complaining at the dinner table, don’t like the food, don’t eat. Children in dry Africa fight to pick up single grains of rice that have been spilled. We are concerned about what and where we eat, and if the service is good, while half the world’s people are mostly concerned that they MIGHT get to eat today. We, the West, have a very long descending trail to follow, but ever downward in the criminal regimes we call our nations. Be glad that you and yours get to eat today. BR rocks the truth in my world. cdk

  24. m111ark says:

    No. Looking a campaign finance is focusing on symptoms. Not unusual, most everyone calls symptoms problems.

    THE fundamental problem is a fraudulent monetary system. Debt based money is a fraud upon the people, designed to make the very few, very wealthy and the 90% nothing more than debt slaves. Debt money is a ponzi scheme and all ponzi schemes fail…

    … one can hope that the failure occurs thru evolution rather than revolution. Mankind, being an evolutionary being, only creates true reality by evolving… even our own revolution did not accomplish it’s intent, we have not kept our republic.

  25. streeteye says:

    @toktora If you’re libertarian, you should be against unfettered corporate power that has the same effect as government power destroying people’s wealth, and ability to speak out.

    Even Chicago-school scion Richard Posner says Citizens United is legalized bribery.


    “corporations are people my friend”

  26. AHodge says:

    this is right
    the diagnosis and the solution are, i think, far deeper than ending or countering their lobbying, relentless propaganda, campaign finance
    for 30 years the Rs have prostituted the tea party limited govt concept
    spent huge dollars and effort
    attacked it 19 different ways from ayn rand to limbaugh to, discussion groups, test marketing slogans, right wing universities to free market econ. to REGULATION
    mutated it into all govt is bad all the time, all the evidence in their world supports it
    literally 35% of the population fervently believes this
    they can run a political campaign on nothing but
    put me in charge, i will do nothing, get govt out of the way
    that was their campaign the last two times
    and the more government fails the more it proves their thesis, a perfect circle of unbroken logic

  27. Almitra says:

    Every once in a while I am reminded of why I subscribe to your blog site.:

    “He has said that the emperor is naked. And because the emperor is in fact naked, something extremely dangerous has happened: by his action, the greengrocer has addressed the world. He has enabled everyone to peer behind the curtain. He has shown everyone that it is possible to live within the truth. Living within the lie can constitute the system only if it is universal. The principle must embrace and permeate everything. There are no terms whatsoever on which it can co-exist with living within the truth, and therefore everyone who steps out of line denies it in principle and threatens it in its entirety…”

    Vaclav Havel

  28. carleric says:

    Thanks fior articulating my feelings pretty much in toto..

  29. mrg says:

    It’s not just government that is defective by design- ALL of our publicly funded institutions are now defective by design- our schools, law enforcement and military, prison systems, etc. This way the crony capitalists who have seized our government can point to their ineffectiveness, privatize them, and enrich themselves further. Revolution?

  30. cswake says:

    Barry, et. al, the intentions of campaign finance reform and term limits are well placed, but, unfortunately, naive. Even assuming that campaign finance laws were somehow able to pass through the legislative and executive branch unadulterated by lobbyists, what is to prevent the power-seekers from alternative means of influencing the malleable nature of 99% of lawmakers? There’s speaking engagements, book deals, board room seats, “help” for their children when it comes to opening doors to schools, etc. What you ask for is impossible when the people in power have no beliefs that they will stand by. Instead as an unintended consequence, your actions, by removing power from the people and placing it in the government, will further empower those who wish to yield and maintain power.

    We are collectively receiving a first-hand lesson in the values of understanding history.

    Personally, I view Jefferson (and Madison) as having clairvoyance on the subject of governance. “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”

  31. VennData says:

    Yet, you all vote for the “tax cuts pay for themselves” party. It’s you, you are the problem.

  32. romerjt says:

    Comfortably Numb (version better that Pink Floyd)

  33. BusSchDean says:

    cswake: too bad we are not big on education either. The US now ranks toward the bottom of OECD countries in high school completion and 12th in the percent of the population with at least an associates degree. At one time we ranked #1 in both categories. In the latter category Russia is #1 and Canada #2.

  34. AtlasRocked says:

    2 + 2 = 4 Series
    2: In Nation A, the citizens can only vote for commerce regulations
    +2: In Nation B, the citizens can vote for both commerce regulations and benefits

    In nation A, the citizens can only vote for commerce regulations, so they will continually vote for healthy commerce policies that create more commerce and better living conditions, right?

    In nation B, Won’t a sizeable % of the lower earning population show up to vote for benefits, and disregard better regulatory choices?

    In Nation B, As the lesser earning citizens vote for more benefits instead of healthy regulations, won’t the wealthier citizens then start voting for protect-their-wealth policies instead of voting for healthier regulations?

    In nation B, As the regulations worsen due to more citizens voting for benefits issues instead of healthy regulations, won’t the regulatory functions become more unhealthy and the economy begin to suffer increasingly poor health and debt accrual?

  35. Cui Bono says:

    All of what you write is painfully obvious, just not often as well expressed. However… we–us, Americans, all of us–have been through much worse before and come out okay, even better.

    Unfortunately, things are probably going to have to get much worse–riots, strikes, marches and mayhem, before they get better. I tell my thirty-something kids: “Fasten your safety belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride” and my biggest fear, well, one of them anyway, is that I’m not going to be around long enough to enjoy it. I think I’m gonna vote strict “Objectivist” just to speed things up.

    P.S. I have no idea what agnotology is and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna look it up, just to spite your over-educated ass! So there. Ignorance is briss!

  36. Cui Bono says:

    All of what you write is painfully obvious, just not often as well expressed. However… we–us, Americans, all of us here–have been through much worse before and come out okay, even better.

    Unfortunately, things are probably going to have to get much worse–riots, strikes, marches and mayhem, before they get better. I tell my thirty-something kids: “Fasten your safety belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride” and my biggest fear, well, one of them anyway, is that I’m not going to be around long enough to enjoy it. I think I’m gonna vote strict “Objectivist” just to speed things up.

    P.S. I have no idea what agnotology is and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna look it up, just to spite your over-educated ass! So there. Ignorance is briss!

  37. Robert M says:

    The dichotomy that exists in your mind between the political system and the controllable evils of the economic system amazes me. You recently posted that McCain was your choice in 2000 for President. Do you really believe and at that time did you really believe he would not have gone the same route?

  38. AHodge says:

    get government out of the way is a beautifully crafted phrase
    also government off our backs
    so much less radical than close down goverment
    anarchy now
    stop spending on everything
    except a few of my pet projects
    that comes later, or maybe not
    Rs in the House of reps are already in charge of spending
    when they dare

  39. theexpertisin says:

    The election system is a balanced rigging.

    The Big Money is split somewhat evenly between Republicans and Democrats. Wealthy individuals, corporations, unions and the churches pretty much cancel each other out when total funds and time are spent to infliuence elections.

    The voting apparatus is rigged in most states to permit false voting, which favors Democrats.
    The apportion of House seats is rigged by undercounting urban areas, which favors Republicans.

    And the American people, generally educated by a pathetically inept public school system, are too stupid to vote principle over want. They’re lucky to find their polling place on election day. Many still are confused trying to navigate a ballot that should be navigated succeessfully by the third-grader.

    Still, immigrants from all over the world come here because their system of government is worse.

    Are humans worthy to run the planet?

  40. san_fran_sam says:

    You don’t go far enough Barry. What we need is a constitutional amendment that prohibits corporations from being treated as people.

  41. gordo365 says:

    Toktora – why do you associate someone who says they want government to work – as a hippie lover?

    I’m not being snarky. A sincere question.

  42. AtlasRocked says:

    Pathetic post, Barry. We are a democracy. Democracies are awful governments, historically. Plato described 2600 years ago how they fail:

    Democratic self-government does not work, according to Plato, because “….In their ignorance they tend to vote for politicians who beguile them with appearances and nebulous talk,…. Imagine then a ship or a fleet in which there is a captain who is taller and stronger than any of the crew, but who is a little deaf and has a similar infirmity in sight, and whose knowledge of navigation is not much better. The sailors are quarreling with one another about the steering—every one is of the opinion that he has a right to steer, though he has n ever learned the art of navigation.”

    The founding fathers created a senate – of appointed senators, not elected – to avoid the failure pattern. We stopped electing senators in 1913.

    “It adds no small weight to all these considerations, to recollect that history informs us of no long-lived republic which had not a senate. Sparta, Rome, and Carthage are, in fact, the only states to whom that character can be applied. In each of the two first there was a senate for life. The constitution of the senate in the last is less known. ” Signed “Polybius”, Federalist 63.

    Do you see that print? THE ONLY long lived government in human history had appointed senators.

    Co-mingling the roles of benevolence and regulation is completely opposite mandates to the federal gov’t, that’s why they left benevolence out of the constitution as a federal power.

    Resurrect the senate, and outlaw **federal**, not state benevolence, and all these problems go away.

  43. techy says:

    As long as rel1gious beliefs and racial beliefs are the only thing that matters for 35-40% of the population we will be ruled by the elites. Its kind of pointless to discuss everything else.

    Questions is: Can you fix the b1ble belt’s education system, if not then get used to the current system.

  44. Iamthe50percent says:

    “The voting apparatus is rigged in most states to permit false voting, which favors Democrats.”

    Rigged how? Of the literally thousands of voters that have come before me as an election judge, there were only two that could not duplicate their signature. As a deputy registrar, I know that court records were checked for every naturalized citizen that I registered. This retail voting fraud myth that Republicans perpetuate is nonsense. Instead of stealing votes one at a time by cumbersome impersonations, it is much more efficient to steal hundred and thousands at a time within the counting apparatus, by substituting fake ballots or swapping PROM’s in voting machines. Diebold certainly doesn’t favor Democrats.

  45. CB says:

    Thanks for this powerful and well-reasoned post.

    On some level it seems the organizing principles of our society are bad for MOST (-198) of the society. Yet it seems that people still prefer “Big?”  
    Obviously “Big” provides economies of scale, increased market share and overall power for corporations. 
    Why do individuals prefer “Big” business over small? Lower price? Brand recognition and mass marketing? Maybe a natural bias towards “bigger is better” and general herd behavior/cognitive shortcuts?

    Governments likely prefer “Big” as a few big corps. are easier to manage, (non)regulate and be lobbied/funded by than many small ones.
    The big multinationals seem to have more power than individual soveriegn governments at this point.

    By now people SHOULD be wary of the de-humanizing effects of anything BIG – see the Dunbar number. But sadly it seems not to be? Are humans just instinctively awed by biggness? 

    BR – any thoughts on moving to a better country? seriously. what are the biggest negatives of Brazil vs US?

  46. DCG says:

    Thought this was right on re today’s note. The interesting thing is the definition has changed over time as the thought owners don’t want others to see them in the definition.

    Fascism, according to the American Heritage Dictionary (1983) is A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism. Italian philosopher Giovanni Gentile’s entry in the Encyclopedia Italiana read: Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power. No less an authority on fascism than Mussolini was so pleased with that definition that he later claimed credit for it.

  47. “…What we need is a constitutional amendment that prohibits corporations from being treated as people…”


    “”The financial system has been turned over to the Federal Reserve Board. That board administers a finance system by authority of a purely profiteering group. That system is private, conducted for the sole purpose of obtaining the greatest possible profits from the use of other people’s money. This (Federal Reserve) Act establishes the most gigantic trust on Earth. When the president signs this bill, the invisible governments by the monetary power will be legalized. The people may not know it immediately but the day of reckoning is only a few years removed, the worst legislatives crime of the ages perpetrated by this banking bill.”
    - Charles A. Lindbergh, Representative, MN – Banking and Currency and The Money Trust, 1913

    as in, Really?

  48. formerlawyer says:

    Reminds me of the Pogo cartoon:”Yep son, we have met the enemy and he is us.”
    (for the cartoon)

  49. SecondLook says:

    There is a simple solution, but precisely because it’s simple, and would upend the status quo, would never be enacted.

    Don’t worry about where the money comes from, how much money is key.

    A constitutional amendment, limiting the amount that can be spent on any political campaign for a candidate, or, in the case of states with initiatives, referendums, etc., to 1 dollar per registered voter in the electoral region (the amount could adjusted for inflation). Outside spending is prohibited – all monies must be spent directly by the official campaign. Individuals, corporations can contribute, it doesn’t matter since the amount is strictly limited.
    This would apply to all elections, Federal, State, and Local (the last so easily manipulated, and yet, so vital in day to day activities for most of us).

    To give you some idea of how much would be spent, there were as of 2010, 137 million registers voters (60% of the total of eligible voters). The best guess is that total spending, directly and indirectly in 2008 election by and for the two major candidates totaled 2.4 billion. Under the amendment, the total would have been almost 1/10th of that.

    It wouldn’t completely eliminate the influence of money, but it would make less influential, and without having to spend taxpayer money. Of course, it would restrict freedom of speech in this special case – you wouldn’t be able to buy an ad in the paper supporting or opposing a candidate or proposition on the ballot.

    One fringe benefit, leveling the playing field between incumbents and challengers; the former almost always able to raise far more. Two or more candidates, equal in how much they have to spend…

    As I said, simple, not perfect, but perhaps the least intrusive, and still effective, reform – and therefore not ever going to happen.

  50. [...] live in an era of defective government.  As Barry explains, this is not by accident.  Citizens United was simply one of the final pieces [...]

  51. Greg0658 says:

    under the nutshell .. imo expect (at least prepare mentally)

    either way this POTUS election goes .. expect a civil war theatre of war here on our continent

    a Simple Demand Economy

    pick your corporate castle wall waving their flag wrapped in the redwhiteblue vs the countryside folks

    now after the war begins do not expect civil society programs to continue – ie: insurances & markets

    how is it the CapitalOne marketeers knew years ago this was inevitable ?

    again imo .. more D’s will be in us little peoples countryside folks best interest

  52. AtlasRocked says:

    Most of you are suggesting we wait for the politicians to find solutions, meanwhile keep borrowing. We run the country, folks, not the politicians. We are a democracy. Solutions come from bottom up, not top down.

    We are getting poorer results because the changed the recipe by giving the federal government both regulation and benefits powers, these are two TOTALLY conflicting mandates.

    We changed the rules to concentrate all the power in Washington, and that’s changed the power balance.

    Smart executives change the structure of the company to change the behavior of the company. We need to rebalance: Return benevolence to the states. Return to appointed senators. Let’s have 51 locations of power instead of 1.

  53. Greg0658 says:

    quite a quandary for the pacifist

    “love it or leave it” .. age old strategy .. leave voluntarily
    .. then .. fascist* gets your stuff and some other entity gets you

    capitalism survives on population growth (peoples labor & their consumption) nothing more
    (over generalizing gets you into trouble)

    human capitalists are an invasive species (probably more correct / scratch the system specification)

    *psst – search “antonym for pacifist” interesting :-|