Third Party & Independents Archives

Straight Scoop From The Middle

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/is-american-democracy-headed-to-extinction/2014/03/28/f8084fbe-aa34-11e3-b61e-8051b8b52d06_story.html

Stein Ringen has a poignant article in today’s WaPo relating how democracy, as a form of gov’t is being usurped around the world. Relative to the US he believes that “Power has been sucked out of the constitutional system and usurped by actors such as PACs, think tanks, media and lobbying organizations.”

Much of the legislative process has been replaced with mega monopolies writing the bills, filling in the blanks later, and hiding loopholes in verbosity. Omnibus and similar bills are seldom read or understood with wording included to ensure some laws are automatically renewed every few years requiring no public scrutiny.

Witness the recently passed farm bill which was to save the taxpayer a few bucks. Within a couple of months of its passage loopholes have been evoked to restore spending to previous limits.

In a similar targeted article Ruth Marcus writes that only the power interests groups carries enough clout to overcome the dysfunction of gov't, leading to " bipartisanship in the form of can-kicking, budgetary obfuscation and unaffordable generosity to those with the best connected lobbyists."

She sites the "near automatic process of tax extension, by which hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks, some supposedly temporary, are renewed at the behest of the businesses who rely on them."

The Medicare fix of 1997 was a well intended effort to cut medicare costs. Can kicking became a favorite pastime and this year congress "doubled down on irresponsibility" by applying the 17th band aid and magically created a savings a decade away, spending money today that would have been saved ten years hence.

The House used a voice vote for a no-fingerprint passage. The Senate will vote this week.

She relates that 'tax extenders' for the corporate amount to $47B this year or $693B over a decade.

The folks seem to believe gridlock leads to dysfunction and thus inaction. But, the wily corpocracy does much governing by auto-pilot. Don't we all understand that gov't is much too big and busy to 'read the bills' and keep rehashing the same ole spending bills every couple of years? Don't We?

Athens was 'big' for 250 years. Maybe we will get another 20 years out of it. Doubtful our Founder's would agree.

Otherwise, we could stand up a new 3rd party w/a/dif/pol/att and designed to shunt the money influence. That is the only way to extend the life of our democracy, IMO.

Posted by Roy Ellis at March 31, 2014 9:02 AM
Comments
Comment #377587

So, to try and get your opinion straight, the non-monied, partisan, ideologically extreme, religious, secularist, environmental, oppressive and racist influence is ok, it’s just money that’s the problem?

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 30, 2014 9:37 PM
Comment #377590

Rhinehold, money 98.5% causal, 1.5% other, IMO.

Posted by: roy ellis at March 30, 2014 10:52 PM
Comment #377591

Roy, your comment doesn’t make any sense to me. Money itself is nothing… The problem to me seems to be the people we send to represent us aren’t worthy of being there if they can’t stand up for what their people want them to do.

Of course, the fact that we send them back seems to tell me that they are doing what we want them to do, or we wouldn’t send them. You know, democracy. So by trying to change that outcome not through the election but by eliminating free speech and choice, that would be the real anti-democratic thing.

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 31, 2014 12:28 AM
Comment #377597


Let’s say a pol takes $100k to work on passing a bill which makes it into law. In another instance no money was given, the pol doesn’t work to pass a particular bill and the bill doesn’t make it into law. IMO, the money made the difference in a bill either passing or failing.
From the article, “In the age of mega-expensive politics, candidates depend on sponsors to fund permanent campaigns. When money is allowed to transgress from markets, where it belongs, to politics, where it has no business, those who control it gain power to decide who the successful candidates will be – those they wish to fund – and what they can decide once they are in office. Rich supports get two swings at influencing politics, one as voters and one as donors. Others have only the vote, a power that diminishes as political inflation deflates its value. It is a misunderstanding to think that candidates chase money. It is money that chases candidates.”
Beyond the local level ‘We’ don’t get to choose our candidates. Today, the Rep party and their donors are pushing Jeb Bush on to the stage. If Jeb can garner a near trillion from the likes of General Electric, Koch Bro’s, Shelton Alders? (the casino guy) and similar he has a good chance of winning in 16. If he can’t find the bucks he is likely to lose. It’s all in the money, IMO.

As I understand it, if you don’t vote with the pack on important issues you will be isolated, kicked to the curb, shunned from meetings and so on - - - if you don’t deliver your share of the dollars for funding campaigns you are pretty much dead meat.

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: roy ellis at March 31, 2014 10:59 AM
Comment #377599
Let’s say a pol takes $100k to work on passing a bill which makes it into law. In another instance no money was given, the pol doesn’t work to pass a particular bill and the bill doesn’t make it into law. IMO, the money made the difference in a bill either passing or failing.

How is this pol getting the $100k? There are strict limits on giving money directly to politicians and their campaigns…

But I’m still not sure how money is the problem. If the pol is voting for the bill just because of the money over the benefits of the bill, or what their constituents want, then the constituents should easily vote them out of office and elect the person that would reject that bill the next term. So the benefit of the bill to the ‘buyer’ is small and limited and really not worth it, right?

Beyond the local level ‘We’ don’t get to choose our candidates.

That’s illogical, Roy. ‘we’ vote for all officials at the local, state and federal level.

the Rep party and their donors are pushing Jeb Bush on to the stage. If Jeb can garner a near trillion from the likes of General Electric, Koch Bro’s, Shelton Alders? (the casino guy) and similar he has a good chance of winning in 16.

Only if the people doing the voting want to vote for him.

As I understand it

Take Ron Paul as an example, he was very good at raising money had a lot of money in his war chest, but the Republicans still shunned him because he didn’t represent the interests of the majority of voters who were voting in the elections.

Money gets your name and positions out to the people, so that helps the right candidate, but it doesn’t make people vote for you.

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 31, 2014 11:33 AM
Comment #377601

An example: “The billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is prepared to fund a campaign against Sen. Rand Paul to prevent him from securing the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.”

By your accounts, its a foregone conclusion… But Sheldon Adelson is not the one doing the actual voting. Money can only get ideas into the discussion, it cannot make people accept those ideas.

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 31, 2014 1:34 PM
Comment #377608

Google Glass has chosen Luxottica to market their new high Google glasses. That is, two monopolies getting together to create bigger monopolies. Doubtful that Google asked for bids from Lux and several smaller eyewear companies. Competition is not Kool in a globalised economy. Luxs’ founder’s worth jumped $700M on the announcement, to some $20B.

Posted by: roy ellis at March 31, 2014 10:19 PM
Comment #377609

GM and NHTSA kept the lid on for years re the defective key/lock system on some GM products. Now they are going to need all the political capital they can muster to lower the bill on this one. Half of GM’s mgmt will be assigned to work full time writing campaign checks for the Hill.

Posted by: roy ellis at March 31, 2014 10:23 PM
Comment #377612

Money is a tool.
Like other tools, it can be abused.
Abuse of wealth to influence government means government is For-Sale.
A tiny 0.3% of all 200 million eligible voters make 83% of all federal campaign donations of $200 or more.
Billionaires spend billions to influence voters.

Voters are still culpable though.
So, voters have the government that they elect, and re-elect, and re-elect, … , and deserve.

Posted by: D.a.n at March 31, 2014 11:30 PM
Comment #377624

I will never buy a GM….especially after a government bailout and taxpayers losing billions.

Posted by: d.a.n at April 1, 2014 12:22 PM
Comment #377634


What do MicroSoft, Apple, Caterpillar and HP have in common. All are using tax havens to avoid taxes. Done, thru this recession/depression when the US could use some extra cash.

Over the last decade Caterpillar has avoided $2.4B in taxes thru using Swiss Banks. In 2013 an Apple sub earned $30B over 4 years with no home for tax purposes.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/03/apple-tax-havens_n_3378935.html

“At least 18 companies, including Nike, Microsoft and Apple, are stashing profits in offshore tax havens likely in a bid to avoid paying taxes, according to a new report from the Citizens for Tax Justice, a left-leaning research group. If the companies brought that money home, they would pay combined more than $92 billion in U.S. taxes, the report found.”

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-03-20/companies-offshore-profits-keep-piling-up


“”Irish” and the “Dutch Sandwich.” In Google’s case, it generally works like this: When a company in Europe, the Middle East, or Africa purchases a search ad through Google, it sends the money to Google Ireland. The Irish government taxes corporate profits at 12.5 percent, but Google mostly escapes that tax because its earnings don’t stay in the Dublin office, which reported a pretax profit of less than 1 percent of revenues in 2008.

STORY: Companies’ Offshore Profits Keep Piling Up
Irish law makes it difficult for Google to send the money directly to Bermuda without incurring a large tax hit, so the payment makes a brief detour through the Netherlands, since Ireland doesn’t tax certain payments to companies in other European Union states. Once the money is in the Netherlands, Google can take advantage of generous Dutch tax laws. Its subsidiary there, Google Netherlands Holdings, is just a shell (it has no employees) and passes on about 99.8 percent of what it collects to Bermuda. (The subsidiary managed in Bermuda is technically an Irish company, hence the “Double Irish” nickname.)””

Not that these corps are good or bad. This is just Corpocracy at work. How old is this tax haven thing? Could Congress have known all along? Yuk, Yuk. Been going on for over ten years that I am aware. Lost revenue that will never be.

From wiki: “A 2012 report from the Tax Justice Network estimated that between USD $21 trillion and $32 trillion is sheltered from taxes in unreported tax havens worldwide. If such wealth earns 3% annually and such capital gains were taxed at 30%, it would generate between $190 billion and $280 billion in tax revenues, more than any other tax shelter.[8] If such hidden offshore assets are considered, many countries with governments nominally in debt are shown to be net creditor nations.[9]However, the tax policy director of the Chartered Institute of Taxation expressed skepticism over the accuracy of the figures.[10] A study of 60 large US companies found that they deposited $166 billion in offshore accounts during 2012, sheltering over 40% of their profits from U.S. taxes.””

“”The Wall Street Journal in a study of 60 large U.S. companies found that they deposited $166 billion in offshore accounts in 2012, sheltering over 40% of their profits from U.S. taxes.[11] Similarly, Desai, Foley and Hines in the Journal of Public Economics found that: “in 1999, 59% of U.S. firms with significant foreign operations had affiliates in tax haven countries”, although they did not define “significant” for this purpose.[23] In 2009, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that 83 of the 100 largest U.S. publicly traded corporations and 63 of the 100 largest contractors for the U.S. federal government were maintaining subsidiaries in countries generally considered havens for avoiding taxes. The GAO did not review the companies’ transactions to independently verify that the subsidiaries helped the companies reduce their tax burden, but said only that historically the purpose of such subsidiaries is to cut tax costs.””

Senator Levin, Mich, is heading up a committee on tax evasion and he will be retiring at the end of this year. Would seem like a very wise move, IMO.

Otherwise, new 3rd party and all that - - -

Posted by: roy ellis at April 1, 2014 8:41 PM
Comment #377635

d.a.n, or is it D.a.n, it’s been so long - - -

I do agree that the voters are culpable in that they could vote the rascals out. But, then what? They would have to keep voting them out every two/four years forever as the Corpocracy has the wherewithall, $ , to keep vetted wannabe’s in the pipeline.

Anyone who has watched ‘Watters World’ on O’Reily understands why the rascals will never be voted out. Watter’s collects about a dozen people at random off the street and ask them some simple history questions and it’s the saddest thing you’ve ever seen. I had my own experience last year. I mentioned the ‘white house’ to a new HS grad with all A’s and she responded, “I think it’s in California”, etc.

My firm belief is that the only way we can ‘get a new deal’ is thru a new 3rd party w/a/dif/pol/att and so on - - -

Otherwise, we have the Corpocracy we deserve.

Posted by: roy ellis at April 1, 2014 8:58 PM
Comment #377637

A third party with moderate leanings might work.
But until then, perhaps not rewarding politicians with 90% re-election rates makes sense….for as many elections as it takes.
But that ain’t gonna happen anytime soon (if ever), since the majority of voters prefer to worship their party and wallow in the blind partisan warfare.

Yeah, I’ve seen Watters.
It explains a lot… And the majority of voters have what they deserve.

Posted by: D.a.n at April 2, 2014 12:51 AM
Comment #377653

We had re-election rates of 85-90% before and after Citizens United, what makes anyone think that doing anything with money is going to change that?

Posted by: Rhinehold at April 2, 2014 1:04 PM
Comment #377690

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/supreme-court-strikes-down-limits-on-federal-campaign-donations/2014/04/02/54e16c30-ba74-11e3-9a05-c739f29ccb08_story.html

Campaign finance law is ‘more is better’.

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: roy ellis at April 3, 2014 4:53 PM
Comment #377693

Not a conspiracy theory. Just thinkin outloud. I see where USAID is working to get the Castro’s out of power in Cuba. And, we do know that Shelton Adelson is prepared to spend another $100M on a ‘favorite’ candidate. Also, that Shelton is big on casinos and that the casino group is way eager to get back into Cuba for the prostitute/gambling business.

Only reason I can come up with as to why Shelton wants to be so generous with his own money.

Posted by: roy ellis at April 3, 2014 8:08 PM
Comment #377703

http://reason.com/blog/2014/04/04/poll-63-percent-say-politicians-playin2

While Americans support campaign finance regulation in various forms, the latest Reason-Rupe poll finds the public places more blame on the politicians themselves who play favorites than the money potentially incentivizing their behavior.

When asked which is a more serious problem, 63 percent said “elected officials enacting policies and spending taxpayer money that benefits the special interests they favor” is worse than “special interest groups spending private money on campaigns to elect the politicians they favor.” Thirty-percent said campaign donations were the more serious problem.

This suggests that Americans believe the point at which the problem occurs is not when a special interest group sends money to a politician, but rather the moment the politician decides to use government power to grant special favors to interest groups.

Posted by: Rhinehold at April 4, 2014 6:18 PM
Comment #377717

Folks are going to be human, Rhinehold. I suggest relieving the money influence is the better way.

Corporations are human too. Therefore we can’t expect them to regulate themselves.

Lemur’s in Madagascar are going extinct due to over cutting of timber. The timber cutters are human and will cut down every tree including those in your yard, unless there are some regulations telling them they can’t, etc.

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: roy ellis at April 5, 2014 7:39 PM
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