Third Party & Independents Archives

Op-Eds in the Shadows

In Senate Majority leader Harry Reid’s rhetoric, the Koch brothers are “a pair of shadowy billionaires” trying to rig the political system. Ok, no one can deny they are rich, having taken their father’s company and increased it’s value at an astonishing rate of about 18% a year by innovating, investing and producing products most of us want to buy and use. They also employ tens of thousands of people and while they may not be as hungry for a camera as say Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group and a fellow billionaire, it seems hard to describe as “shadowy” two business leaders who want nothing more than a clear, rousing debate on issues like government and taxation. Call me stubborn, but writing op-eds in the Wall Street Journal is not exactly hiding in the shadows. Charles Koch clearly wants and calls for a debate where his ideas are what gets voters stirred up - for or even against one suspects - and not twitter-sized swipes.

What shaped the Koch brothers' ideas on government, the economy, on politics in general? I wouldn't even try to answer that one at this point in time because the best way to do that is to let that debate happen right out in public. It's a debate that must be threatening to the status quo in the Beltway as well as to many special interest groups that thrive on government regulation and subsidies. And I don't just mean subsidized housing and Detroit.

To get to that debate, however, it seems we have to get through the "they're too rich" criticism. This seems a little wry from those who haven't picketed Bill Gates or Warren Buffet's homes to protest their bank balances. And that brings us to the Winner Take All critique of the economy: we pay our winners - whether in sports or film or business - more than they're worth. The Koch brothers are very rich so they must be up to no good. Thus the question becomes, what are the innovators, the entrepeneurs, the people who succeed tremendously worth? And the answer depends of course on who decides what that may be. It may frustrate and offend all of us who haven't yet figured out a way to become rich - never mind very rich - but the market remains the only true way, despite any given market's imperfections. In other words, they are worth what we or someone or some or many people are willing to pay that entrepeneur.

For example, have you dug a little into the Richard Grasso controversy? Did you know that the NYSE was a non-profit institution whose executive compensation packages were governed by New York state law? In other words, more by commitees than markets. Did Grasso's 100 million plus package bother you? Think of this, had the NYSE been a for profit organization, like it currently is, during his tenure and Grasso had been the CEO, how much wealth would he have created? How much wealth,in fact, did Grasso's stewardship of the NYSE from 1995 to 2003 help create? Tens of billions, hundreds of billions? Trillions? Had you used a hard and fast metric based on the wealth he helped create, his package might have been worth even more. How much did your trading commisions go up because of Grasso's greed? Oh, that's right they went down. Don't like the management fees a mutual fund charges you? How about an ETF? Thousands of them in fact for every style and product. How we invest has changed in part because of people like Richard Grasso.

So while Harry Reid might target the Koch brothers for being very rich, it seems their opposing ideas on how much government voters might want is what matters.

Posted by AllardK at April 4, 2014 7:12 PM
Comments
Comment #377704

Good post Allard. Reid is simply a twit. The left gets all tangled up in equality. Our Constitution calls for equality under the law…not equality of results.

Posted by: Royal Flush at April 4, 2014 7:55 PM
Comment #377706

http://www.cracked.com/article_18845_6-secret-monopolies-you-didnt-know-run-world.html

Allardk, I believe the Supreme Court is evenly divided on this inequality thing. Were it five liberals and four conservatives on the bench we would likely be living under strikingly different laws. Money might not equate to free speech, citizens united might be repealed, and we might have REAL campaign finance reform in the works.

This issue of inequality is projected into so many facets of everyday life. I’m on the side that believe that 1% of the top owning 46% of everything is not healthy for the nation, as is near half of US taxpayers paying no federal income tax.

It seems that with the new world order and globalisation we have given up on anti-trust laws, campaign finance reform, finance regulation and similar and are just letting the bulls run.

If the trend toward more inequality continues where might it lead? If .1% end up owning 85% of everything will that be ok? Should anything ever be done to bring things back closer to balance? Moderation in all things, and so on - - -

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: roy ellis at April 4, 2014 10:56 PM
Comment #377709

Perhaps the reason Gates and Buffet aren’t picked on despite being very rich is the claim that Reid picked on the Koch Bros for being very rich is bogus. Look deeper into the issue and you might find the real reason.

I do have to say AllardK good job on the doing an entire post on the Koch Bros without bringing up Soros.

Posted by: j2t2 at April 5, 2014 9:12 AM
Comment #377713

Gates and Buffet act in politically correct ways. Buffet is a Democrat. That is how they get away with it.

Re Soros - actually he and the Koch brothers are similar in that they are created as enemies of the opposite side. Neither has really done anything dishonest, but the right doesn’t think Soros is using his money legitimately and the left feels the same way about the Koch brothers.

Harry Reid is an idiot, however. I will never forgive him for his cowardly comments on Iraq when we had men in the field. So if Reid hates the Koch brothers, even if I knew nothing else about them, I would think they were okay.

Posted by: CJ at April 5, 2014 3:20 PM
Comment #377721

Trend of inequality? I think you are mistaking something for something else…

Here’s a video that might help dispel some of the misinformation you may have encountered.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6vF8_ZeqMk

Are we talking wealth inequality or income inequality or wealth mobility? Total wealth or financial wealth?

Let’s agree on the topics and discuss.

Posted by: Rhinehold at April 6, 2014 3:07 AM
Comment #377722

Heh, just had to laugh at this comment I saw somewhere else…

“if only the richest 20% had 81% of the wealth like they did during the post war period, things would be so much better!!” Said no liberal ever.

Posted by: Rhinehold at April 6, 2014 3:20 AM
Comment #377723
Allardk, I believe the Supreme Court is evenly divided on this inequality thing. Were it five liberals and four conservatives on the bench we would likely be living under strikingly different laws. Money might not equate to free speech, citizens united might be repealed, and we might have REAL campaign finance reform in the works.

Possibly, but it would be a much more piss-worse place to live… Government banning books based on political speech because they are published by corporations, newspapers not allowed to question the government, etc… Once you go down the path of limiting free speech, it’s all over.

(Before claiming that I am being crazy, remember that it was THIS government’s representatives in the Supreme Court case of Citizens United that said that they had the power to ban books…)

Posted by: Rhinehold at April 6, 2014 3:22 AM
Comment #377728

Rhinehold, kind of like saying that ‘make guns legal and pretty soon everybody will kill everybody’, etc.

Or, If we allow Article V to be invoked then we will have a runaway convention that will destroy democracy in a minit’, etc.

Moderation in all things makes a good centrist. If one drinks too much sugar water, alcohol, chews too much tobacy, throw too much money at politics, etc, then bad things will happen, IMO.

Otherwise, we have the Corpocracy we deserve.

Posted by: roy ellis at April 6, 2014 3:27 PM
Comment #377729

It would seem to support your position we should ban any form of campaign finance that goes toward limiting money.

The majority of folks would like to limit the money influence but by the slimmest of margins, 5-4 and so on - - - our Republic is being held hostage by big business.

I would like to see a new 3rd party w/a/dif/pol/att where the party limits donations to something reasonable to support the party and their candidates. Say $1-2k per.

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: roy ellis at April 6, 2014 3:38 PM
Comment #377730
Rhinehold, kind of like saying that ‘make guns legal and pretty soon everybody will kill everybody’, etc.

Hardly, the government stated quite clearly that they had the power and government is not the same as millions of people, as you would agree…

It is in effect what the government did in Citizens United, making it illegal to air a documentary of a political nature, something you apparently are ok with?

If we allow Article V to be invoked then we will have a runaway convention that will destroy democracy in a minit’

That is actually a distinct possibility because of the nature of an Article V convention. Owning guns would most likely be illegal, speech would be curtailed, privacy rights would be gone, etc… Or it may not. But the possibility is there because the protections that the constitution have would be negated with such a convention.

Moderation in all things makes a good centrist.

So, we’ll just deny your rights a little bit, we’ll just spy on you a little bit, we’ll just keep gay people from marrying a little bit, we’ll just a have a little national religion, etc?

“I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. - B Goldwater

Truer words…

throw too much money at politics, etc, then bad things will happen

What bad things, Roy? Exactly what are you afraid of? Why does money being spent on commercials scare you so? You realize that more money is spent by Coke each year to try and get us to buy that sugar water than we spend each year deciding who will be president? If the mere spending of money causes people to act, then why does Pepsi still exist?

Posted by: Rhinehold at April 6, 2014 6:04 PM
Comment #377731
The majority of folks would like to limit the money influence but by the slimmest of margins, 5-4 and so on - - - our Republic is being held hostage by big business.

Here’s another Supreme Court decision that was decided 5-4.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miranda_v._Arizona

“The Court held that both inculpatory and exculpatory statements made in response to interrogation by a defendant in police custody will be admissible at trial only if the prosecution can show that the defendant was informed of the right to consult with an attorney before and during questioning and of the right against self-incrimination prior to questioning by police, and that the defendant not only understood these rights, but voluntarily waived them.”

Was that a bad decision then? Was our democracy held hostage because of this decision?

I would like to see a new 3rd party w/a/dif/pol/att where the party limits donations to something reasonable to support the party and their candidates. Say $1-2k per.

Ok, so let’s say the Teamsters union uses up their contributions 2 months out from the election. Then the Chamber of Commerce, who held on to some of their funds, makes an ad buy of epic proportions, defaming the Teamsters seven ways to Sunday. Now the Teamsters can’t respond because they are out of funds and can’t go back and ask donors for enough money to counter the ads, causing the elections of candidates who go on to dissolve the union…

Is that the kind of free speech in politics you are after?

A person gets campaign donations from a number of people, then that person is found doing coke from a hooker’s midriff, now those people are unable to donate money to a different candidate? They’re candidate pulls out and they are unable to participate in the election going foward?

And how do you quantify the spending? Right now, Valarie Jarrett is going to Hollywood trying to get movie makers and tv makers to put political messages into their programming, is that counted? Or athletes?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzRwc5Y8c6g#t=31

Do those shows and movies then fall under the campaign finance laws or is that kind of speech ok? What about News networks (which are pretty big business) having to stop mentioning politics for 2 months prior to an election? Or even endorsing a candidate? Why are those corporations treated differently?

Or is it just that any for profit organization that you disagree with should be limited but everyone you agree with be able to say what they want to say?

The majority of people in this country are christians, apparently according to you since the majority wants it, it should be law, are you ready to spend your Sundays at church or face jail time? If you are sick, you’ll have to get a note from your government approved doctor…

Your whole argument is ridiculous, Roy. I get it, you hate people with money for some reason. I don’t get it, but the real problem is not the money, it is the power… You seriously think that as long as the power exists that people won’t find a way around your silly law about donation limits? Concentrated power is the problem, not the fact that sometimes people you don’t like get to wield it.

Posted by: Rhinehold at April 6, 2014 6:19 PM
Comment #377732

Here are the words of Krist Novoselic, the bassist and co-founder of Nirvana

Another reason I quit the Democrats was the Obama For America (OFA) campaign organization. Here I was schlepping for the state party and there was another group working independently. What members elected these OFA people? They were political appointees of that machine. However, OFA was a brilliant third-party success. It took off from where Howard Dean left off in 2006. OFA raised tons of money from small individual contributions while Obama’s GOP opponent [John McCain] opted for the public-financing program. I don’t support public financing of elections at all. So much for being a crunchy prog!!!

While I’m at it, I believe that the Citizens United ruling was good for Internet freedom and transparency in elections. At the 2012 Washington State Grange convention, I voted against a resolution calling for abolishing corporate personhood. How in the world could I ever vote for abolishing the collective voice of a group!!!

So let’s look at Robert Michels’ and his Iron Law of Oligarchy. His study was written 100 years ago and he nailed it by saying that only a small section of the group emerges as leaders. Is producing leaders really oligarchy or is that the nature of democracy? Democracy is a system of individuals working in a group. You still have to work with others no matter who the leaders are.

Posted by: Rhinehold at April 6, 2014 6:29 PM
Comment #377758

In defense, I don’t have any hatred for wealthy folks or corporations and so on - - -

Money is power that can be used for good, bad, or nothing. It is a tool to be used in bartering for goods and commerce, to buy friendship and influence and so on - - -

My concern is that wealth is concentrated at the top end to the point of diminishing democracy for the common folk. Carlos Slim, should he want to, could have way more influence on my elected representatives than the local folks.

It seems rational that local and state elections be funded for local and state people. But, since corporations and groups of people are allowed to operate in all states, they are allowed to influence local and state elections.

Likewise, now that we are globalised Carlos Slim may want to influence elections in W. Va. to garner support for his coal mining interests and so on - - -

“”You seriously think that as long as the power exists that people won’t find a way around your silly law about donation limits? Concentrated power is the problem, not the fact that sometimes people you don’t like get to wield it.”“

We seem to agree somewhat on ‘concentration’ and ‘nefarious ways of getting around rules/laws’.

The SC has thrown the doors open to ‘more money’ and you seem to support that. I don’t see a solution there.

Big money can get the President’s ear at any hour of the day while the common folk is not even allowed access to Article V Convention, a constitutional right, to, as a group of groups, weigh in on issues. Denied, by elected officials who took an oath to abide by the constitution. What’s that all about?

I would say that Corpocracy doesn’t want any input from the common folk. Those groups are the ‘leaders’ and they will decide the future, and so on - - -

More later - - gotta go hang blinds

Otherwise - - -


Posted by: roy ellis at April 7, 2014 11:14 AM
Comment #378117

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