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Projections of a Shameless Ruling Class and the Corrupt System They Continue to Putrefy with Every Thing They Do
Back in late 2015 I listened to By The People by Charles Murray. Today I am finally reading it properly. I am only a third of the way through so I expect to have much more to say at a later date but I just have to stop here and pass on these three paragraphs that comprise a short section titled In a Corrupt System, Officials Shake Down Businesses (see pages 93-94):
Members of Congress do not just passively accept corporate contributions as the price of an appointment. They also take the initiative, behaving in ways that look like shakedowns. The former CEO of a major corporation put it this way: “What has been called legalized bribery looks like extortion to us. . . . I know from personal experience and from other executives that it’s not easy saying no to appeals for cash from powerful members of Congress or their operative. . . . The threat may be veiled, but the message is clear: failing to donate could hurt your company.”
I would point out that “powerful members of Congress” are most likely the faces and voices most common on your network and cable media screens and microphones.
The shakedowns also occur in what Peter Schweizer calls “tollbooth” charges: donations paid to get a politician to do what he is supposed to do anyway. Thus, for example, the Wireless Tax Fairness Act was expected to com to a vote in the fall of 2011. It was supported by the cell-phone industry, had broad bipartisan support, and was certain to pass. But for months House Speaker John Boehner did not bring the bill to the floor for a vote. Finally, he declared a vote for November 1, 2011. The day before the vote, twenty-eight executives of AT&T wrote checks for John Boehner’s campaign fund. The day of the vote, twenty-eight executives of Verizon sent checks to members of Congress, both Democrats and Republican. That’s how the tollbooth works. It’s not big money – a total of about $50,000. But John Boehner was not behaving in some novel way; Speakers of the House going back to Jim Wright have routinely collected tolls. But think about it for a minute: Large numbers of executives do not spontaneously write campaign contributions on the same day. A message had to have gone out from someone that went something like this: “I’m happy to report that our bill is going to be brought to the floor for a vote tomorrow, but I’m told that it would be appropriate for us to come up with X amount of dollars. That works out to Y dollars from each of you.” It’s corruption. There’s no other word for it.
It seems corruption is not the occasional defect in the system but has been wholly integrated into the system. It is the system…and it is bipartisan. (And if a new, very lucrative avenue had opened up, do not think for a moment that they all didn’t jump in with both feet. And if you do not think that many offices on both sides of the aisle are not puckered up awfully tight about someone cracking the Ukraine files wide open then…<<<SQUIRREL>>>)
Oh, but it gets even worse:
Or take the case of tax extenders. The tax code is riddled with special “temporary” corporate tax breaks that have an expiration date. But Congress can vote to retain those tax breaks through “tax extenders.” And so it has become an annual game in Washington: Congress leaves it up in the air whether a given tax will be extended and then, just before the tax extender is approved by the relevant committee (which ensures approval by the full House or Senate), a flood of checks arrives for Senators or House members who run the key committees that can push through the tax extenders. One of the most important of these “temporary” tax breaks is the tax credit for research and development (R&D) expenditures enacted in 1981. Its effectiveness in promoting technological innovations is widely thought to have provided major benefits to the nation as a whole. So why, more than thirty years later, is the R&D tax credit still temporary? “They trot out the R&D tax credit every few years,” observed Bob Herbold, former COO of Microsoft, “and it’s always with their hands open, looking for money. It’s like an annuity for them. They won’t make it permanent because it doesn’t make sense for them to make it permanent.” In 1998, there were 42 tax extenders. By 2011, they had more than tripled, to 154.
Now, with that in mind, I challenge you all to go back (literally or just as an experiment in memory) and review all of that sanctimonious pap you have heard in the recent “Impeachment Soap Opera” (a clear insult to writers for the daytime time fillers; all of whom produce better scripts than we were put through over the last weeks) about “the rule of law,” “no one is above the law,” “bribery,” and/or “founders” this or “constitutional oath” that…and remember just what those tools really are and exactly how much respect they have for you. Especially the 220-plus “patriots” that voted for this sham. (As a bonus assignment, I recommend thinking through what this means for those active and vocal supporters of such scum in your neighborhood.)
Have a nice day, sir.Published in General
Oh, but it’s not called extortion when a Congressman does it.
Whoops, we stepped behind the curtain and noticed how the sausage gets made. With the goofy newsmedia that only sells narratives little wonder it’s such a shock.
I had no idea, what an eye opener!
This is not an easy process. Even given agreement on what constitutes corruption, once some corruption is allowed, setting the corruption boundaries becomes almost a hopeless exercise. We see this repeated in other areas and those seem much like siblings or cousins to corruption. Examples are the classification of sensitive material by government law enforcement and intelligence, including military, agencies, decisions about how to conduct an impeachment trial or the impeachment process we just witnessed . Are each of these not just a different species of corruption?
But, for sanity, we need to do something to get out of the quagmire in which we are wallowing.
Prosecutorial discretion is another one abused extremely by the federal government.
So, should a ban on corporate and union political donations be back on the table?
I have no problem with overturning Citizens United, as long as unions are governed by the same rules as corporations. PAC money is becoming egregious as well. The genius of a Republic-a union of individual states- was to avoid these excesses of an uncontrollably huge central government. And yet, despite the foresight of our founders, here we are.
I’m in favor of restricting political campaign donations to come only from individuals. I don’t know exactly what kind of action should be applied to PAC’s and lobbying in Washington, but something needs to be done. The undue influence wielded in our society began to emerge in the corporate sector after our civil war and conditions for individual Americans political influence have been increasingly diminished.
And we wonder how politicians retire as millionaires? Right. Thanks for this post, @philo.
This is unfixable as long as they control so much. A return to a Federal system would help a lot.
But, humans are scum. We will always have corruption. I’d dare say a republican form of government is the most corrupt. Except for all the others.
And people wonder how poor Congressmen get rich.
Term limits, folks . . .
We need a Convention of States. Whatever dangers that may pose, the current situation appears unfixable.
I recall a debate on campaign finance reform back in the early 90s in which some witnesses were corporate executives begging for limits. Since corporations are limited in what they can expressly donate,
the mobCongressmen hit up the CEO, VPs and their lobbyists for individual contributions AND expect them to round up friends, realatives, employees, colleagues and fellow trade association members for additional dough.
The income figures for some corporate lobbyists I knew then appeared scandalous on paper but they were expected to donate big chunks to promote the interests of the company. They could not be directly reimbursed so it was a legal campaign slush fund.
In a meeting with Bob Dole and industry figures, my boss told Dole that (our client’s CEO) was behind his presidential bid. Dole replied “That’s news to me.” Meaning don’t drop names until the check has been deposited.
Every time you hear leftist blather about corporate special interests running Washington try to picture sheep forcing the wolves to feed.
One of the candidates that mastered this art was Tom DeLay. And the Clintons are also expert at it. They’d all consider 50,000 bucks to be pocket change and beneath them receiving it.
Hillary wrassled some 32 millions of dollars from Saudi and Qatar officials, with the unspoken quid pro quo being that she would get those officials a “boots on the ground” war going on in Syria, with American service people there in force. The money was laundered by The Clinton Foundation.
She then persuaded Barack Obama to use his Presidential bully pulpit to implore that we the people tell everyone in Congress how much we wanted this war in Syria. Well, record numbers of people called, faxed, and emailed Congress, with some 79% of all communications indicating the last thing the public wanted after ten years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan was more war. But armaments were sent to Syria anyway.
The weapons arriving in Syria then went to Libya, where there was some 320 billions of dollars of gold bullion that Saudis, the Qatar officials, the French and the Clintons felt could be theirs to split up, once Kaddaffi was killed. Right now whoever has that bullion is not talking. Some say the French have it. But whoever has it, they have given the Clintons a finders’ fee, you can be sure of it.
The other sections of this part of the book are titled:
It is hard not to see that the federal behemoth is corrupt to its very core. With that clarity, the immediate reflex of that system to the threat at hand (i.e. Trump) makes much more sense.
Money finds a way. I don’t know the answer but expect the “work around” to be worse…I suspect your proposal would be destined to failure of McCain-Feingold-ian proportions.
People who don’t want a convention always cite the dangers. The truth is, the dangers are minimal. The most common complaint is “There’ll be a runaway convention all all sorts of stuff will get put in.”
My response is, “So what?” The more garbage that gets thrown into an amendment, the less likely states will ratify it. Any attempt to introduce amendments outside of the previously agreed to agenda will be ignored.
Frankly, I’m surprised the Democrats haven’t tried a convention of the states. My guess is they know failure is guaranteed . . .
The risks / dangers of a runaway convention vs. the certainty of the slow (but accelerating), irreversible, managed decline we are currently working through? I suspect one’s assessment of that choice depends on which side of the Gulag fence he thinks he will be on. (HINT: Optimists and Arizona Democrats are wrong.)
For those interested, as I am now nearing the midway point of the book quoted in the post above, I do highly recommend it…but with a little context.
I thoroughly enjoyed Coming Apart (2012) by the same author shortly after it came out. In it Mr. Murray presented a depressing case very well but then, in my opinion (and from distant memory at this point), closed out the book with an upbeat and positive outlook. It seemed out of place with everything I had just absorbed.
In this more current book (2015) he is making the case that the current system is fully corrupt and not fixable through the electoral processes due to advanced, irreversible, institutional sclerosis. He is not wrong and much of the “hope” from Coming Apart has faded. But even this revised “modified limited hangout,” if you will, is already severely dated. It either predates (or he simply is not yet ready to acknowledge) the emergence from the shadows of more active forces working against liberty in addition to the passive condition identified above.
I look forward to his next iteration…
The odd miracle of 2016 is that a distinctly non-intellectual new president who has not followed the guidance of the great wisdom of his betters has had an extraordinarily successful run at the same time elite academic centers have become both vile and absurd.
If more than a quarter of black voters join working class whites (and the normals from all demographic sectors) in a rejection of both Enlightened management of the economy and the divisive mind-games spawned by the elite, the ‘coming apart’ will be reversed. There is hope.