Third Party & Independents Archives

Refreshed Perceptions

Until around 1886 it basically came down to a factor of greed. Following the passage of corporate personhood law a second pertinent factor, Corpocracy, was introduced. Secure in their ‘persons’, corporations could now use gov’t as a tool to further their pursuit of greed. 125 years or so later the combination of these two factors have served to return the country to a level not seen since the Great ‘D’ with one big difference. Most large corporations are doing well, some booming while the recession grinds on for all others. Since the Regan era of ‘greed is good’ corporate wealth has expanded by some 250% while the middle class is up by some 45%.

A developing saga involving CITIGROUP serves to provide some incite as to how the Corpocracy uses gov't as a tool to serve corpocracy. CITI may suffer a fine of $285M while their crime likely involves several billions. An interested reader should review the comments at the end of the linked article.

A federal judge has called the SEC settlement weak and has done so in a previous case. Perhaps, becoming a common procedure to give the folks a 'feel good moment' in such situations.

There is a reason for the super low grades assigned to congress, executive and various agencies of gov't.

In the days of yore a corporation served for the 'good of the community' and could be terminated for cause. Today they pay the ridiculous fine, accept no guilt and continue with business as usual. And, so it will go until we can gin up a 3rd party with a diff political attitude and abolish corporate personhood law.

Otherwise, we have the corpocracy we deserve.

Posted by Roy Ellis at October 30, 2011 6:32 PM
Comments
Comment #331240

Roy,
Tom Friedman, a consistent proponent of the wonders of capitalism and the marketplace, wrote a good editorial today on the same subject:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/30/opinion/sunday/friedman-did-you-hear-the-one-about-the-bankers.html?_r=2&emc=eta1

Here are a few quotes; and remember, this is Tom Friedman, of all people:

“Our financial industry has grown so large and rich it has corrupted our real institutions through political donations.”

“Our Congress today is a forum for legalized bribery.”

“We need to focus on four reforms that don’t require new bureaucracies to implement. 1) If a bank is too big to fail, it is too big and needs to be broken up. We can’t risk another trillion-dollar bailout. 2) If your bank’s deposits are federally insured by U.S. taxpayers, you can’t do any proprietary trading with those deposits — period. 3) Derivatives have to be traded on transparent exchanges where we can see if another A.I.G. is building up enormous risk. 4) Finally, an idea from the blogosphere: U.S. congressmen should have to dress like Nascar drivers and wear the logos of all the banks, investment banks, insurance companies and real estate firms that they’re taking money from. The public needs to know.”

The problem with Friedman’s four-part solution is that the people in charge of making these changes are the ones being bribed by Wall Street. And it’s not just the financial sector (although they give the most). With health care reform, the Senate Democrat in charge of the committee, Max Baucus, took one million dollars in campaign contributions from the industry. The public option was off the table before discussions even started.

Your solution is a third party. However, that party will be just as vulnerable to the current system of what amounts to bribery as the two parties in power today. Worse, one party, the Republican party, is openly devoted to the idea of preventing regulations and reforms in the name of ‘freedom,’ and as long as it takes a supermajority to actually accomplish anything, hopes for reform seem faint indeed.

I’ve also seen advocates of a constitutional move through the states. The same problem remains. The delegates can simply be bought by various industries. And does anyone really want to open the constitution to a rewrite by the likes of Michelle Bachmann? And the difficulties of moving this through 38 states makes a federal solution look like a walk in the park.

There’s only one two-part solution that will work. First, there needs to be five SCOTUS justices willing to dismantle rulings allowing corporate personhood. IF that is done, then campaign reform can take place, with publicly funded elections. Arizona presented a good idea that seems like a fair variation on this (it was struck down by the ‘conservative’ Supreme Court), namely, that private donations could be made, but those would be matched by public financing of an opponent.

Placing five judges on the Court would be difficult, but far more realistic than the formation of an untainted and untaintable third party.

Posted by: phx8 at October 30, 2011 8:12 PM
Comment #331241

“Greed is good” is a line uttered by a fictional character created by Oliver Stone, a leftist director. He makes movies, very good ones technically, that attack the free market system and traditional American values. You really cannot mention him as a source.

Re corporate wealth - what does that mean. I own stocks as do most American households. The corporation itself is a pass through.

As you mention, it is a legal person, but it cannot enjoy wealth. That is still the exclusive domain of people. You may believe that executives are too well paid etc, but that is another story.

The idea of limited liability is crucial to the development of any developed market economy. Nobody can afford to invest if each investment, no matter how small, will risk his/her entire fortune.

The Corporation is one of the most important inventions of modern times. Many reforms are possible and perhaps necessary, but we have to recognize the fundamental necessity of corporations. Partnerships and single proprietors just don’t provide sufficient protection in a complex economy.

Posted by: C&J at October 30, 2011 8:18 PM
Comment #331256
“Greed is good” is a line uttered by a fictional character created by Oliver Stone, a leftist director. He makes movies, very good ones technically, that attack the free market system and traditional American values. You really cannot mention him as a source.

Yes C&J Gordon Gekko uttered the phrase but it so exemplifies Reagan and the repubs since the days of Reagan. In fact try this, when at a gathering of friends utter the same phrase and watch how many people toast Reagan.

BTW I didn’t see where Roy used Oliver Stone as a reference. Burt why should that matter? This weird obsession over references from those on the right has such an elitist attitude. “It has to be from a think tank or it don’t count”. Many of us believe think tanks such as those funded by the Koch Bros. are merely propaganda mills.


Re corporate wealth - what does that mean. I own stocks as do most American households. The corporation itself is a pass through.

So is it you sitting on the 3 trillion dollars that could be used to spur investment and create jobs in this Country or is it corporate America?

Posted by: j2t2 at October 30, 2011 10:45 PM
Comment #331260

Pxh8, interesting reply and I agree with most of your thoughts. Clear, we shouldn’t expect a solution to come from the Corpocracy and I completely, fully, overwhelmingly agree that just another 3rd party approach is a sure path to la-la land. And, while we can be hopeful that Reclaim Democracy and Move To Amend will be successful in abolishing corporate personhood I believe we should not ‘put all eggs in one basket’. And, suppose these orgs are successful, what might happen after CP is abolished?

Such reasoning leads me to believe that a 3rd party w/a diff pol opinion should be in the wings to either assist in abolishing CP or perhaps, be the political force to take CP to the mat and keep it that way. For any readers who haven’t heard the spiel, we need a party established in a few rules to prevent co-option by special interests. We need a party established to use its membership as oversight for those members elected/appointed to political office. Elected politicians who wander off the reservation can be rejected from the Party by the membership. The few rules that would apply:

1. Members must sign this pledge affirming their support for the agenda and rules set forth by the Republic Sentry Party.

2. Members will cast their votes relating to party business via the Internet on the party’s website(s).

3. To change, add, or delete a party rule requires a two-thirds approval, based on the total vote cast by the party membership.

4. If 15 percent of members submit a complaint against another member a vote to clear or terminate must be held. All complaints must be posted, in a cumulative manner, on the Party’s website within 8 hours of receipt. (This will be a pro-forma process).

5. Pursuant to Rule #4, a party member who holds an official Party position, or position of U.S. Senator, U.S. House of Representatives, Cabinet Head, Supreme Court Justice, Czar Appointee, Political Appointee, Ambassador, Vice President, and President, must enjoy an approval rating of two-thirds of the total votes cast by the national party membership. Otherwise, his/her party affiliation will be terminated with no further support for current or future political endeavors.

6. Pursuant to Rule #4, a party member elected to a State office must enjoy a two-thirds approval rating, based on the total votes cast by that States party membership. Otherwise, his/her party affiliation will be terminated with no further support for current or future political endeavors. Members serving in the position of U.S. Senator or U.S. House of Representatives are excluded, as these positions are included under rule #5 covering the federal or national sector of government.

The rules put forth represent a STRONG attempt to prevent ANYONE or ANY GROUP from being able to circumvent, abuse, or fail to support the party’s adopted rules and platform without REDRESS by party MEMBERSHIP.

The sole agenda of the Party is the abolishment of CP followed by implementation of REAL campaign finance reform.

Here are some urls that can help one understand that corporations were never granted ‘personhood’ by the courts. Also, explains how corporate personhood has ‘evolved’ over time.

http://yulr.org/corporate-personhood/

http://www.commondreams.org/views02/1226-04.htm

http://reclaimdemocracy.org/personhood/edwards_morgan_corporate.html

This url postulates what might be, after corporate personhood is abolished.

http://proxyexchange.org/2011/10/1242/

C&J, I can’t see how it is possible to amend or modify a law that legally and, for all practical purposes has no standing in law, IMO. It would seem abolishment is the more correct path. No doubt legal scholars could propose law governing corporations based on some 125 years of experience with corporations.

Otherwise, we have the Corpocracy we deserve.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at October 30, 2011 11:17 PM
Comment #331265

j2t2

It is a line uttered as a stereotype by an enemy of the free market.

If a conservative made a movie about liberals, he might have them toast socialism or say the Che was a hero. There are liberals who would say this, but not the majority. The same goes for conservatives and the greed line.

There is an important difference between recognizing that people will act out of self interest and trying to channel that and the GG idea of worshiping it.

The free market creates wealth. I recognize that wealth is a good thing and I like to have money. Anybody who says he disagrees is either nuts or lying. But I know that wealth is something to be used.

Profit is the price of survival. Even in the natural world, if a wolf “spends” more chasing a deer than he “profits” but eating it, he will die. This is just true.

A society cannot accomplish any goal or do any good unless you can sustainably create wealth. In the 1980s, we were celebrating that we were again doing that.

Oliver Stone didn’t understand that. It is a common problem for rich liberals, especially celebrities. They are greedy so they think every else is too.

RE using Oliver Stone as a reference - if you quote Shakespeare w/o knowing or citing, you still have quoted him. The quote was by Oliver Stone, through his character, although Stone is no Shakespeare.

Re “sitting on the wealth” - this would seem to counter the greed argument. If there are good opportunities, wouldn’t their “greed” compel action. If they are not investing there is only one explanation: they don’t find good opportunities.

I understand that some big government types want to socialize this money and deploy it as the politicians want, assuming that politicians are better investors than the people whose money they would seize. We saw how well that worked with Solyndra. Created some jobs for bankruptcy lawyers.

Posted by: C&J at October 31, 2011 5:51 AM
Comment #331276


Oliver Stone?

“I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself.”

Ivan Boesky, U.C. Berkeley, 1986.

“You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself.”

That pretty much sums up the corpocracy, it’s two political parties, and apparently many of their supporters.

Boesky, Milken, Icahn and Reagan, the 1980’s.


Posted by: jlw at October 31, 2011 1:39 PM
Comment #331287

jlw

As you say, these guys are bipartisan. They engaged in illegal acts. Nobody thinks they are good, except maybe Oliver Stone. They are not representative.

Boesky was a crook no more associated with Reagan than you or I. He gave money almost equally to Democrats and Republicans but was generally not politically active.

Milken raised money for Democrats.

Icahn also gives to both parties. He gave money to Kerry for President and Hilary for Senate in 2004. Interestingly, he gave money to George Bush, AL Gore and Micheal Dukakis in 1988. It shows the kind of opportunist.

So you have a point about bipartisan problems, but there is no reason to associate them with Reagan who was an honest man who never engaged in such manipulations.

Posted by: C&J at October 31, 2011 6:02 PM
Comment #331288
Re “sitting on the wealth” - this would seem to counter the greed argument. If there are good opportunities, wouldn’t their “greed” compel action. If they are not investing there is only one explanation: they don’t find good opportunities.

What it actually refutes C&J is your theory “The corporation itself is a pass through.” IMHO. Were it a pass through that gave stockholders the profits they are currently sitting on, because they are not investing the money now, those that did hold stocks would have more money in their pockets to buy goods in this economy.

Posted by: j2t2 at October 31, 2011 6:05 PM
Comment #331290
The idea of limited liability is crucial to the development of any developed market economy. Nobody can afford to invest if each investment, no matter how small, will risk his/her entire fortune.

Oh nonsense C&J. Why cover for the likes of banksters and fraudsters such as Citibank? What ever happened to accepting responsibility for one’s actions?

Posted by: j2t2 at October 31, 2011 7:12 PM
Comment #331291

j2t2

Why would any corporation, any manager, sit on piles of money if he/she believed there was a better investment for the money?

And why would a bureaucrat or politician be a better judge of how that money could be profitably employed?

Re limited liability - we are talking different things. You are presuming that managers acted in bad faith. If that is true I believe there should be consequences. If there is actual fraud, we would expect Obama/Holder Justice Department to act. If they have not done so, we must presume that either they have no case, or they are corrupt. I don’t have information that would lead me to one conclusion over the other.

The limited liability has to do with investors. If you invest in Citibank and pay $100 for a share, you can lose no more than that money. W/o limited liability protection, you could be held joint and severally responsible, i.e. an investment of $100 could cost you your life savings or your home. Obviously, you could no longer have investor owned large businesses under these conditions.

This was the case before limited liability was invented. In those days, people literally sat on piles of money, often hidden in their houses, rather than invest.

Posted by: C&J at October 31, 2011 8:58 PM
Comment #331293

The idea of limited liability.

This is the problem with C&J’s position.

They continue to spout platitudes to their ideology ignoring the fraud that caused the collapse of economy in 2008. They adhere to the same policies that lead to this fraud. They fail to recognize they are part of the problem. Yes, let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater, but let’s not ignore the problem. The fraud of the S&L crisis, the LBO’s, The internet bubble, Enron, and the CDS’s and liars loans were ignored by politicians still spouting the same nonsense. It is bipartisan in nature.

It is the corruption of politics by the capture of the market by corporate and banking interests that is driving these cycles. It isn’t a magic invisible hand. It is a hand directly in your back pocket. The Republican party talking points is to reward the fraudsters. The Democrats may talk about it, but Holder has not prosecuted a single bankster. Geitner and Bernanke have protected them.

This is what the rabble who are being abused by cities and police are protesting.J&C calls them dirty scum, while applauding the infringement of their Constitutional rights to free speech and peaceful assembly which shall not be abridged by permits, curfews or other unconstituional ordinances. Yet J&C continues to cheer for the fraud to continue through double speak and bigoted nonsense posts.

The dirty scum, in my opinion, is quite clearly not what J&C point towards. Jefferson would be shaking his head much like he did during Shay’s Rebellion.

Posted by: Tom Jefferson at October 31, 2011 9:18 PM
Comment #331296

Greed runs thru the whole thing re corporations, perhaps beginning with the railroad barons who worked for 15 years to shoehorn ‘corporate personhood’ into law. The two urls cited below pretty much express my opinon/thoughts as to corporations. Yes, we must have an efficient and well-established way of conducting the generation and flow of goods throughout the world. Yes, there are some good corporations out there. There are some corporations who would like to operate ‘clean’ but are forced, by the nature of the beast, to play into Corpocracy in order to survive as a corporation. Since 1886 corporations evolved from where they were created to serve a community purpose and could be terminated for cause to today, where corporations are the government, ie rule by Corpocracy.

As to whether corporations are moral/amoral: Excerpt: “The current trend toward globalization appears to extend the reach of American corporations around the world, where the potential benefits are enormous as a new form of (or a new name for) colonialism and imperialism, for example, by (1) reducing the cost of natural resources; (2) reducing the cost of labor; and (3) reducing the cost of (local, state, and federal) taxation. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the diminution of sweatshops in the United States should be taking place with a commensurate increase in sweatshops around the world!” End excerpt.

This link presents some of the many ways in which the Corpocracy operates to survive and prosper.

Corporations are basically forced to operate as they do, monopolizing/conglomerating, using gov’t to gain and enforce rules they help them achieve their goals. If a company failed to ‘be greedy’ his competitor would soon do him in, and so it goes.

Only way to put the genie back in the bottle is thru a 3rd party w/a diff pol att - - - rules to prevent co-option by special interests, goal to remove the money influence from gov’t/politics thru abolishment of CP and implementation of REAL campaign finance reform where ALL donations are bundled by one entity and distributed to candidates/incumbents by another. Republic Sentry Party refers…

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at October 31, 2011 10:56 PM
Comment #331328

Tom

As I said above, if there is fraud, it is the job of the Obama Justice Department and regulators to address it. I hope they put those who have committed fraud in jail. If the Obama folks are not doing it, either they have no cases to make or they are corrupt/incompetent. Do you know which of these it is?

Re the “dirty scum” I never called anybody that and I am surprised that you think the way you do about the protesters. I just point out that lots of street people are accreting to the OWS camps. Eventually there will be a rift.

I understand that it is more fun for you to attack straw men than the actual argument I make. That way you can both satisfy your anger and pretend to win. If it makes you happy, continue. But I will have to continue to correct you.

If you are trying to channel Jefferson, recall that his greatest fear was the concentration of power. He probably would have approved of the demonstrators. I think you are right about that. It was one of his failings to have too much faith in the goodness of mobs. He supported the French Revolution, long after it became clear to everybody else that it had taken a terrible and violent turn. But he certainly would NOT have approved of OWS calls for greater central government action. Jefferson would have been much more in tune with the Tea Party, then and now.

You will also recall that Shays Rebellion was one of the proximate causes for the Constitutional Convention, so it had a good effect not intended by Shays.

Roy

Greed and limited viewpoints are endemic to the human condition. We recognize them and try to limit and balance them off against each other. I am opposed to over powerful corporations and very much opposed to them acquiring political power. I observe, however, that attempts to keep them away from political power often result in them getting even more. The problem is with the TOOL of political power itself. If we create the power tool of political intervention, the clever and the powerful will gain access and use it. The only way to prevent the tool of political intervention from being used is to keep the tool from becoming powerful in the first place. We need a more limited government.

I don’t “defend” business people. I think that they are self-interested, as are almost all people and certainly all politicians. NOBODY can be trusted to exercise power w/o restraints. I believe we should not allow the concentration of power. Power can almost never concentrate in private hands sufficiently to cause real danger unless aided and abetted by political processes. That is why rich guys try to get political power.

Posted by: C&J at November 1, 2011 6:20 PM
Comment #331329
Why would any corporation, any manager, sit on piles of money if he/she believed there was a better investment for the money?

Exactly C&J why not pass the money through to the stock holders of the company instead of sitting on these profits if there isn’t any growth opportunity for the company?

And why would a bureaucrat or politician be a better judge of how that money could be profitably employed?

What? Who said that?

Posted by: j2t2 at November 1, 2011 6:30 PM
Comment #331346

j2t2

Presumably the managers of the firms are keeping the money to protect the firms from the vicissitudes of capricious fortune and/or waiting for a better opportunity.

There is no reason to believe that this money should be invested or distributed to stock holders. It is a choice that they are making and we have no justification to substitute our own judgement for theirs. If you own stock in one of these firms, you have the choice to vote your shares or sell them if you don’t like what is going on.

Those who have no right to complain or act are those who don’t own shares or have responsibility to make decisions. In other words, we have not business telling them what to do as long as they obey the applicable laws.

If you or I truly believe that great opportunities exist, we should be taking advantage of them ourselves. We could, in theory, rake in those big bucks until the cognitively challenged come to the right decisions. Personally, I don’t know how to do this at this time. I am fairly sure that Obama is no smarter than I am about it. Maybe you are. Good for you if you are.

Posted by: C&J at November 1, 2011 8:39 PM
Comment #331357

“There is no reason to believe that this money should be invested or distributed to stock holders.”

But, I thought that a corporation was merely a “pass through” entity?

Posted by: Rich at November 1, 2011 9:54 PM
Comment #331360

C&J, “NOBODY can be trusted to exercise power w/o restraints. I believe we should not allow the concentration of power. Power can almost never concentrate in private hands sufficiently to cause real danger unless aided and abetted by political processes.”

Federal spending under Bush grew by 68%. Under Bush the federal budget grew from 18.5% of GDP to 20.3% at the end of his term.

MF Holdings may turn out to be one more example of Corpocracy. That a GS exec could be elected to some high state/federal office is puzzling and amazing. Of course, Solyndra is a good current example. Wacovia bank was chastised for laundering drug money headed to Mexico.
We do need small gov’t which would result in lower taxes but we won’t get that thru Corpocracy. If people can push back against Bank of Am on a debit card fee you would think we could stymie illegal immigration, a real back breaker for jobs and wages.

The duopoly-corpocracy can only be managed by a 3rd party w/a diff pol - - -, IMO. People can have some limited, fleeting success, as in knocking back ATM fees, but it will take a 3rd party to take the nation from the clutches of the Corpocracy.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at November 1, 2011 10:02 PM
Comment #331362

Roy

YOu are making my point re concentration of political power. Nobody should have that kind of concentrated power. Not Bush, not Obama, not even the great Ronald Reagan or the even greater George Washington.

Economic power should be separated from political power as much as possible, and both should be decentralized.

We agree on these things mostly. We disagree about the effectiveness of a third party. I don’t know who would really be in this third party and I doubt it would practice the kind of restraint needed to limit concentration of government power.

Posted by: C&J at November 1, 2011 10:19 PM
Comment #331405

C&J, yes, there seems to be a big majority who agree along as to concentrated power, need for separation, etc.

I first thought that it would be easy to gin up a 3rd party with so many frustrated Independents and some members of the duopoly. I believed that it would be relatively quick and easy to draw on the retiring boomers for volunteering time and effort required to form up a strong party.

Was I ever wrong. Three or four years out now and absolutely no interest from any quarter on throwing in to work on founding a party w/a diff pol att. Every day I pick up a paper or watch the news I am astounded at the inaction to events.

One would think this MF Holdings and the recent drug/border incidents would be a tipping point. Perplexing.

And, its easy to think solutions posed by yourself are the answer and would work, fer shure.

Brief as I can be, “economic power should be separated from political power.” The close relationship between economic and political power is what some refer to as corpocracy. Corpocracy is fed by the money influence, primarily through campaign financing and to an unknown degree, corrupt dealings behind the scene.

I can come up with no plan to remove the money influence from politics and implement REAL campaign finance reform other than through a political party projecting an agenda to do just that. The money and power, corporate and political, is just to great to be overcome by a person, group, party, state(s), congress, etc. And, even if there was limited success there is no glue, laws, etc that could hold/cement such accomplishments in place.

So, try to dream up something that will (1) remove/severly limit the money influence from gov’t/politics and implement REAL CFR. Has to be installed at the highest level of power, congress. Has to be seen/supported by a majority of people who have confidence that the goal can be accomplished. That fairly well defines a need for a new political party, with some wrinkles.

Such a party must be established from the gitgo to shunt the money influence and prevent the party from being co-opted downstream by special interests. This can be affected by having members sign on to a few rules that authorize the membership to serve as oversight for party members that are elected/appointed to official gov’t positions.

Should an incumbent receive a fat vacation for voting in a way that doesn’t support the party agenda then members may complain and if 15% complain an up/down vote on the incumbent is mandated. If the incumbent doesn’t garner 66% favorable vote that incumbent is rejected from the party.

Now, the party must provide the up/down communciations so that members and elected officials can have a good understanding between them. If the elected official can come up front and convince the membership that voting against the agenda, changing the agenda, etc better serves the interest of the party then the challenge to that incumbent would be, perhaps, lessened or nil. Good Internet communications would be a prerequisite for a party with a diff pol att. Certainly, video for the down channel and video and/or text communcations going up to the extend possible. Elected incumbents would make frequent use of party communications. Imagine - incumbents talking to constituents to make sure there is a good understanding between them, no bumps in the road, etc.

I envision that, in addition to members at home acting in an oversight role, each state party would have six or eight volunteers specifically assigned to monitor for situations where incumbents might be voting, preparing to vote, in a way that doesn’t support the party agenda.

Another aspect that should have party appeal; let’s say that a US Senator from the state of Alaska managed to carry out some unethical act. Party members from across the country would register a pro-forma complaint over the Internet and if 15% complain a mandatory up/down vote would be required. Failing to garner 66% favorable vote, that Senator would be rejected from the party. National voting applies to elected/appointed/ambassadors who are party members at the federal level only. Federal types are spending your tax dollars and you should be allowed to reach out and touch them no matter what state they represent.

Shoot, I signed up for this party before the text was dry.

Otherwise, we continue to have the Corpocracy we deserve.


Posted by: Roy Ellis at November 2, 2011 10:44 PM
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