Category: Corruption

David Koch’s 1980 Insane Libertarian Platform

| April 11, 2014 | Reply

When he ran for VP of the United States, David Koch wanted to outlaw mandatory seatbelts, and a whole lot more insanity.  This is free market fundamentalism at its absolute destructive worst.

Here are some more positions he took (this list is from the Office of Bernie Sanders):

Here are just a few excerpts of the Libertarian Party platform that David Koch ran on in 1980:
“We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws, and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Election Commission.”

“We favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.”

“We oppose any compulsory insurance or tax-supported plan to provide health services, including those which finance abortion services.”

“We also favor the deregulation of the medical insurance industry.”

“We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system. Pending that repeal, participation in Social Security should be made voluntary.”

“We propose the abolition of the governmental Postal Service. The present system, in addition to being inefficient, encourages governmental surveillance of private correspondence. Pending abolition, we call for an end to the monopoly system and for allowing free competition in all aspects of postal service.”

“We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.”

“We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.”

“As an interim measure, all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately.”

“We support repeal of all law which impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws.”

“We advocate the complete separation of education and State. Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.”

“We condemn compulsory education laws … and we call for the immediate repeal of such laws.”

“We support the repeal of all taxes on the income or property of private schools, whether profit or non-profit.”

“We support the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency.”

“We support abolition of the Department of Energy.”

“We call for the dissolution of all government agencies concerned with transportation, including the Department of Transportation.”

“We demand the return of America’s railroad system to private ownership. We call for the privatization of the public roads and national highway system.”

“We specifically oppose laws requiring an individual to buy or use so-called “self-protection” equipment such as safety belts, air bags, or crash helmets.”

“We advocate the abolition of the Federal Aviation Administration.”

“We advocate the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration.”

“We support an end to all subsidies for child-bearing built into our present laws, including all welfare plans and the provision of tax-supported services for children.”

“We oppose all government welfare, relief projects, and ‘aid to the poor’ programs. All these government programs are privacy-invading, paternalistic, demeaning, and inefficient. The proper source of help for such persons is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.”

“We call for the privatization of the inland waterways, and of the distribution system that brings water to industry, agriculture and households.”

“We call for the repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.”

“We call for the abolition of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”

“We support the repeal of all state usury laws.”

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Formula for Predicting case outcomes at the United States Supreme Court

| April 8, 2014 | Reply

At Truthout, Mike Lofgren concludes that the formula for predicting future case outcomes of the United States Supreme Court is simple and that references to the Constitution are merely smokescreen. Roberts is well aware of this bait and switch: “Roberts is wise enough to know that and is wise enough to conceal his hand with occasional strategic references to the free speech or free exercise clauses in the First Amendment.” Instead of really upholding constitutional rights, the Roberts court Lofgren states that the cases are results oriented; they are about upholding the superior political privileges of rich interests in society. The unspoken basis is “freedom of contract notion (without government restrictions), from which many subsequent pro-corporation decisions have flowed, the court’s majority was basing its decision on economic ideology rather than constitutional interpretation.”

The Court’s recent ultra-narrow definition of “corruption” is a case in point. [More . . . ]

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How to deal with corruption

| April 4, 2014 | 1 Reply

Represent.us has a lot of energy and ideas. Here’s the reaction to McCutcheon:

It is time to move from defense to offense, and pass a wave of local anti-corruption laws across the nation over the next few years — while simultaneously organizing a 21st century anti-corruption movement made of grassroots conservatives, moderatesand progressives. The nation is ripe for such a movement, with voters abandoning the major parties in droves. A recent Pew study shows that a full half of millennials identify as political independents, up from 38% in 2004. It is the combination of passing bold reforms in cities and states, while creating a loud and visible, right-left anti-corruption movement that will provide the political power necessary to forcechange.

We stand at a crossroads. Political corruption has grown so severe that reality is much closer to the dark TV drama “House of Cards” than what we learned about in grammar school. A recent New Yorker story about corruption in North Carolina describes state Senate Majority Leader John Unger:

“Unger recalled the first time that a lobbyist for a chemical company asked him to vote on a bill. “I said, ‘I don’t sign on to anything until I read it.’ And he said, ‘Well, that’s not the way it works around here.’ I said, ‘Well, I don’t know how it works down here, but that’s the way I work.’ And he said, ‘Well, if you don’t learn to get along, when it comes to your reelection, we’ll stick a fork in you.”
McCutcheon turned that lobbyist’s salad fork into a pitchfork. But with the right strategy, we the people can, and will, stick a fork in the beast that our system has become.

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Like a broken record . . .

| April 3, 2014 | Reply
Like a broken record . . .

Over on my Facebook page, I fear that I’m sounding like a broken record about government corruption, but the thing that has become massively damaged is the fundamental basis for our way of governing, the thing we are so proud of when we wave our flag.

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What Karl Marx got right

| February 19, 2014 | Reply

To this point, Karl Marx offered a system of government that has not worked well anywhere that it has been tried, at least so far. I took a college course on Marx many years ago, and I was impressed with many of his criticisms of capitalism. Some of those criticisms of capitalism are becoming apparent to most of us, as set forth in this article by Sean McElwee of Rolling Stone. Here are the headings:

1. The Great Recession (Capitalism’s Chaotic Nature)
2. The iPhone 5S (Imaginary Appetites)
3. The IMF (The Globalization of Capitalism)
4. Walmart (Monopoly)
5. Low Wages, Big Profits (The Reserve Army of Industrial Labor)

McElwee’s conclusion:

Marx was wrong about many things. Most of his writing focuses on a critique of capitalism rather than a proposal of what to replace it with – which left it open to misinterpretation by madmen like Stalin in the 20th century. But his work still shapes our world in a positive way as well. When he argued for a progressive income tax in the Communist Manifesto, no country had one. Now, there is scarcely a country without a progressive income tax, and it’s one small way that the U.S. tries to fight income inequality.

Here’s a related article by Jesse Myerson of Salon: “Why you’re wrong about communism: 7 huge misconceptions about it (and capitalism).” Here are the misconceptions:

1. Only communist economies rely on state violence.
2. Capitalist economies are based on free exchange.
3. Communism killed 110 million* people for resisting dispossession.
4. Capitalist governments don’t commit human rights atrocities.
5. 21st Century American communism would resemble 20th century Soviet and Chinese horrors.
6. Communism fosters uniformity.
7. Capitalism fosters individuality.

Myerson’s conclusion regarding misconception 7:

As a matter of fact, most of the greatest art under capitalism has always come from people who are oppressed and alienated (see: the blues, jazz, rock & roll, and hip-hop). Then, thanks to capitalism, it is homogenized, marketed, and milked for all its value by the “entrepreneurs” sitting at the top of the heap, stroking their satiated flanks in admiration of themselves for getting everyone beneath them to believe that we are free.

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Elizabeth Warren: Obama filling federal bench slots with corporate attorneys

| February 6, 2014 | Reply

Barack Obama is seeking only skin-deep diversity when he chooses judicial nominees. 70% of judicial nominees come from the corporate sector and only 3.6 percent of the president’s nominees have a background in public interest organizations. Elizabeth Warren is concerned:

“Power is becoming more and more concentrated on one side,” she said. “Professional diversity is one way to insulate the courts from corporate capture.”

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Chris Hedges discusses our undoing

| February 2, 2014 | Reply

Chris Hedges is difficult to read, but not because he is a bad writer. Rather, it is because he is not satisfied with official lies. Consider these observations of Hedges:

Our financial system—like our participatory democracy—is a mirage. The Federal Reserve purchases $85 billion in U.S. Treasury bonds—much of it worthless subprime mortgages—each month. It has been artificially propping up the government and Wall Street like this for five years. It has loaned trillions of dollars at virtually no interest to banks and firms that make money—because wages are kept low—by lending it to us at staggering interest rates that can climb to as high as 30 percent. … Or our corporate oligarchs hoard the money or gamble with it in an overinflated stock market. Estimates put the looting by banks and investment firms of the U.S. Treasury at between $15 trillion and $20 trillion. But none of us know. The figures are not public. And the reason this systematic looting will continue until collapse is that our economy [would] go into a tailspin without this giddy infusion of free cash.

Who has the strength to see problems as immense and as obvious as these? Not many people, but their are some.

Yet we, like Ahab and his crew, rationalize our collective madness. All calls for prudence, for halting the march toward economic, political and environmental catastrophe, for sane limits on carbon emissions, are ignored or ridiculed. Even with the flashing red lights before us, the increased droughts, rapid melting of glaciers and Arctic ice, monster tornadoes, vast hurricanes, crop failures, floods, raging wildfires and soaring temperatures, we bow slavishly before hedonism and greed and the enticing illusion of limitless power, intelligence and prowess.

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The secrets and lies about the bailout

| January 29, 2014 | Reply

This article by Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone is a year old, but it really lays out the national fraud that we call “the bailout.” Here’s an excerpt:

We were told that the taxpayer was stepping in – only temporarily, mind you – to prop up the economy and save the world from financial catastrophe. What we actually ended up doing was the exact opposite: committing American taxpayers to permanent, blind support of an ungovernable, unregulatable, hyperconcentrated new financial system that exacerbates the greed and inequality that caused the crash, and forces Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup to increase risk rather than reduce it. The result is one of those deals where one wrong decision early on blossoms into a lush nightmare of unintended consequences. We thought we were just letting a friend crash at the house for a few days; we ended up with a family of hillbillies who moved in forever, sleeping nine to a bed and building a meth lab on the front lawn.

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Senators must raise 10K per day

| January 28, 2014 | Reply

This is an astounding fact that, in and of itself, shouts for overhaul of the system:

“A senator has to raise $10,000 every day that they are in office to make the average amount that’s spent today in a Senate race.” So who are the Senators going to spend most of their time with? You and me, so that they can raise $50 or $100, or with big corporations and powerful trade organizations? And what type of legislation are they going to tend to support?

Senator raising money

Here’s another example from represent.us:

We decided to target Jim Himes because he’s emblematic of a much larger systemic problem: Our Congress is being corrupted by big money and no longer represents the people. Rep. Himes co-sponsored and helped push a bill called H.R. 992 through the House. 992 would further deregulate derivatives, a financial instrument that played a major role in the 2008 crisis (source).

Our organization doesn’t have a position on derivatives trading. What we do have a position is corruption, and this is a textbook case. The New York Times revealed that 992 was written by big bank lobbyists — 70 of the 85 lines in 992 were written by lobbyists for CitiGroup.

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