A Plutocracy Ruled by Self-Centered Jerks?

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Hassan Nemazee, the wealthy Manhattan investment banker, steps over a security chain as he leaves federal court in Manhattan after being sentenced to 12 years in prison for bank fraud. (AP Photo/Larry Neumeister)

Hassan Nemazee, the wealthy Manhattan investment banker, steps over a security chain as he leaves federal court in Manhattan after being sentenced to 12 years in prison for bank fraud. (AP Photo/Larry Neumeister)

Two studies released last week confirmed what most of us already knew: the ultra-wealthy tend to be narcissistic and have a greater sense of entitlement than the rest of us, and Congress only pays attention to their interests. Both studies are consistent with earlier research.

In the first study, published in the current Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Paul Piff of UC Berkeley conducted five experiments which demonstrated that “higher social class is associated with increased entitlement and narcissism.” Given the opportunity, Piff also found that they were more likely to check themselves out in a mirror than were those of lesser means.

Piff looked at how participants scored on a standard scale of “psychological entitlement,” and found that those of a high social class — based on income levels, education and occupational prestige — were more likely to say “I honestly feel I’m just more deserving than others,” while people further down the social ladder were likelier to respond, “I do not necessarily deserve special treatment.”

In an earlier study, published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Piff and four researchers from the University of Toronto conducted a series of experiments which found that “upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals.” This included being more likely to “display unethical decision-making,” steal, lie during a negotiation and cheat in order to win a contest.

In one telling experiment, the researchers observed a busy intersection, and found that drivers of luxury cars were more likely to cut off other drivers and less likely to stop for pedestrians crossing the street than those behind the wheels of more modest vehicles.  “In our crosswalk study, none of the cars in the beater-car category drove through the crosswalk,” Piff told The New York Times. “But you see this huge boost in a driver’s likelihood to commit infractions in more expensive cars.” He added: “BMW drivers are the worst.”

Summing up previous research on the topic, Piff notes that upper-class individuals also “showed reduced sensitivity to others’ suffering” as compared with working- and middle-class people.

Lower-class individuals are more likely to spend time taking care of others, and they are more embedded in social networks that depend on mutual aid. By contrast, upper-class individuals prioritize independence from others: They are less motivated than lower-class individuals to build social relationships and instead seek to differentiate themselves from others.

These findings may appear to represent a bit of psychological trivia, but a study to be published in Political Science Quarterly by Thomas Hayes, a scholar at Trinity University, finds that U.S. senators respond almost exclusively to the interests of their wealthiest constituents – those more likely to be unethical and less sensitive to the suffering of others, according to Piff.

Hayes took data from the Annenberg Election Survey — a massive database of public opinion representing the views of 90,000 voters — and compared them with their senators’ voting records from 2001 through 2010. From 2007 through 2010, U.S. senators were somewhat responsive to the interests of the middle class, but hadn’t been for the first 6 years Hayes studied. The views of the poor didn’t factor into legislators’ voting tendencies at all.

As Eric Dolan noted for The Raw Story, “The neglect of lower income groups was a bipartisan affair. Democrats were not any more responsive to the poor than Republicans.” Hayes wrote that his analysis “suggests oligarchic tendencies in the American system, a finding echoed in other research.”

Hayes’ study is consistent with earlier research, including Princeton University scholar Larry Bartels’ 2005 study of “Economic Inequality and Political Representation.”

There are a few of ways of looking at these findings. They could be the result of genuinely held ideological beliefs which happen to justify inequality and privilege.

According to OpenSecrets, the average net worth of senators in 2011 was $11.9 million, so it could be a matter of legislators advancing their own interests and those of the people with whom they socialize and associate.

But MIT economist Daron Acemoglu, who co-authored Why Nations Fail with Harvard’s James Robinson, says that this kind of political inequality is a product of widening economic disparities. “It’s a general pattern throughout history,” he told Think Progress. “When economic inequality increases, the people who have become economically more powerful will often attempt to use that power in order to gain even more political power. And once they are able to monopolize political power, they will start using that for changing the rules in their favor. And that sort of political inequality is the real danger that’s facing the United States.”

Joshua Holland is a senior digital producer for BillMoyers.com. He’s the author of The Fifteen Biggest Lies About the Economy (and Everything Else the Right Doesn’t Want You to Know about Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America) (Wiley: 2010), and host of Politics and Reality Radio. Follow him on Twitter or drop him an email at hollandj [at] moyersmedia [dot] com.
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  • Anonymous

    This article is a welcome balance to the hype about violence and other behaviors as “prevalent” in lower income communities. While there may be segments of that population who engage in those activities — there are many in that same demographic who are generous and honest.

    Further, unethical and selfish behavior are not synonymous poverty or modest means — but is instead more common in those who feel they are entitled (those who call themselves upper “class” and think they are “deserving of privilege”).

  • Guest

    fOOFD FOR THOUGHT

  • Samuel R.

    We have been witnessing since the so-called Reagan Revolution, the dismantling of the once great American Middle Class. Albeit the brief respite under President Clinton, the tide has long since turned in favor of the rapacious capitalism which is creating tremendous income inequality and social stratification. The chickens have once again come home to roost!

  • Mona

    people unresponsive and lacking empathy are psychopaths. that is exactly what the wall street elites are. my grandmother said that god will take care of the US because we – the american people are charitable. wall street watch out. destroying the people who are charitable will eventually affect you as well.

  • Christine

    I’ve lived long enough to already know that the best, kindest, most ethical people are usually people without much to protect. I do believe, as this article points out, that the unethical behavior comes from the wealthiest segment of our society. Unfortunately, they’ve also grabbed most of the power. The rest of us needs to stop voting in a way that further empowers them (Republican, of course), and we need to pull the Democratic party back to supporting the working people. They rarely do that anymore.

  • AnnaFrieda

    When you have $1billion or more and never have to worry about being poor (or even sinking to just upper-middle class), and yet you go out of your way to fight unions, minimum wage and taxation to… what? get even more money? To me, this behavior reeks of mental illness. It’s strange that people like the Koch, Walton and Trumps think they are all that, not realizing that most of us think they are a menace to society. And the reason most of us are not billionaires is simply because we are “plagued” with ethics, morals and conscience.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/gfwatson George Watson

    Great article confirming many assumptions based on experience and not research. But this idea that political inequality is a ‘danger facing’ the US is naïve. While most are aware how much influence is bought in the Congress, the latest revelations (link below) about the part Larry Summers and Tim Geithner played in the Great Global Recession, as well as their connection to the president, suggests we are well past the point of an easy return to a Republic of the People.
    http://www.opednews.com/populum/podcastplayer.php?pid=229&l=y

  • Anonymous

    In other research it was concluded that many of the upper management and board members have a tendency toward psycopathy.

  • Anonymous

    I remember a when a group of Wall Street traders were interviewed about why they didn’t have any humility about taking the bailout and then getting huge bonuses, leaving the ruins of the economy and all their bad gambling debts on the backs of the taxpayers. As I listened to them insist that they are smarter than other people, and deserve what they have, I was astonished not just at the level of hubris, but at the complete absence of empathy for those who have to live with the consequences of their actions. The paralysis of our government rests on our having taken on their debt as our own, and their subsequent pontificating about the size of the debt we now owe, as if it is OUR moral failure to be addressed by austerity measure. I’m not sure if they’re mentally ill, or if we are for allowing them to be deregulated in the first place.

  • jbmason

    Studies have been confirming for some time that 1 out of 100 people are psychopaths. This means 10% of our society are psychopaths but only a 10th of that group are the sick killers we read about. Most are fairly high functioning people with steady work, families, and hobbies but are void of empathy. That seemingly vindictive boss or co-worker who is only concerned with moving up in the company is likely one of the psychopaths your life. The disturbing link between Psychopathy and leadership has been known for sometime. We have mythologized and celebrated the cut-throat, get-it-done, take-no-prisoners attitude in business and it has become an award winning veil for the psychopath to find reward and become an exalted master to the rich and powerful.

  • elgourdo

    musn’t have had any land rover drivers

  • Anonymous

    The question answers itself.

  • Lenore Oconnell

    I am an adult going to a college for the first time and i am printing this article to take to my American Government Professor. He is politically a conservative but I hope he embraces what your article is saying and encourages the others in the class to read it. i think it is important for the younger people in the class to be familiar with other perspectives and realities of what is going on in our government today. i hope this is legally ok to do. I hope I am not infringing on your copyright by doing this. I apologize if I am, but I want to enlighten as many people as I can as to what is really going on as you do as a writer. Thank you for your courageous work in this field.

  • Susan Paxton

    I’m pretty convinced that many of our plutocrats are basically economic serial killers.

  • JB

    1 out of 100 = 1%. Just sayin’

  • Russell Scott Day

    I can only see road building and airport building and traintrack building and rocketship building as anything to do and run so that that form and function creates the necessity that all of the classes eat together. The first thing to do to cure some of our terrific problems is to outlaw bad food in places where people are trapped and can’t get to other food. No McDonalds inside the airport. No Arbys, No Taco Bell, Hardees, Burger King, Airport Managers will be charged with making sure that the food is of a certain standard. The destruction of the Silk Road strikes me as a setback for civilization.

  • John Ullmann

    dinsf, you are right …on the money.

  • Allyson C

    Apparently, they didn’t do this study in a Wal-Mart parking lot, as far as watching who allows pedestrians to cross…

  • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

    How many beamers do you see in the Wal-Mart parking lot?

  • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

    LOL. I missed that.

  • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

    As if we had a say in it. I agree with the overall thrust of your comment, by the way.

  • http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com/ John Bailo

    So stop having babies.

  • Jennifer Hj

    I think part of the reason that we have more and more wealthy and ultra wealthy politicians is Citizens United…It takes a ridiculous amount of money to run for political office so the only ones that can afford to run are the ultra wealthy. Of course they’re going to then side with the ultra wealthy and kick the rest of us to the side of the road. Time to get the money out of politics! Somehow…some way.

  • Bob Muenchausen

    Uh, yeah, Bill…you could say that.

  • Anonymous

    A lot. Same with Mercedes, Audi, Infinity, etc ..at least the lower end models.

  • Anonymous

    They are sociopaths. Very simple to explain and understand.

  • Anonymous

    so now what?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jason-James-Rubadeau/1841753146 Jason James Rubadeau

    We don’t have more and more wealthy..we have the same people getting wealthier..big difference

  • David

    a lot of economists see the Quantitative Easing ‘ policies (aka money printing) as a leading culprit: the (too big to fail ) banks get all the money they want at .025% from the Fed, It ends up in financial , commodity, and recently real estate markets. If you re not rich enough to be a player iin these markets you just get poorer-we re pretending inflation is 1-2% but of course that doesn t include food or gas-anybody who buys those basics knows inflation isn t 2% -and wages haven t risen since 2006. -the money is staying at the top, just going into speculation..it s not even trickling down.

  • David

    an observation: as the middle class disappears so does a moderate political climate: so many ‘banana republics vassilate back and forth from extreme right to extreme left…and back again- the dysfunction in DC begins to look like that-with neither party really interested in maintaining a stable middle

  • Lisa Lahr

    I have seen this in action where I work and live. I work with poverty stricken refugees who have no one to speak for them. I have tried to talk to senators and congress persons about a poverty relief issue and none of them responded. The one who did couldn’t do anything. My clients are being manipulated and these fools don’t care. I am sure that if my name was Kennedy then someone would call me back.

  • Anonymous

    As if we needed a scientific study to confirm that the Upper Class are selfish sociopaths. Only people stuck in their cyber-caves could have missed this conclusion.
    Democracy in the USA has never been about “the people”, just those with money.

  • Anonymous

    4% are sociopaths (exhibiting extreme selfish behaviour). There are very few psychopaths, people who enjoy inflicting pain on others, maybe 1 in a 1000?

  • Anonymous

    They were told throughout their education that they were better at repeating what they were told, so they got top marks in their exams. They then falsely interpreted this, that they were smarter than the rest of us. They then figured that they deserved more than anyone else & the bankers were keen to hire & reward them. They have been bred to be empathy deficient.

  • Tim Ryan

    What’s the difference between a BMW and a porcupine? Beamer’s got all the pricks on the inside.

    Old joke but its funny how commonsense it is to see the rich as the entitled pukes they are. Really nothing wrong with being an entitled puke until the media and the politicians view it as the only thing worthy of their time, and could give hoot about the 99%.

  • Anonymous

    White collar crime creates far more victims than muggers or burglars but almost none of these creeps end up in jail.

  • Bunny

    Violence is prevalent in low income communities not because the people living there are unethical–but because they have nothing (and therefore nothing to lose). They steal because they have nothing–including the education and skills to better themselves. They deal drugs because they see few other options for “employment” and income. It’s not their lack of empathy that makes them steal and harm others. It’s the lack of empathy of those who have the most that leaves them with nothing. The Bible (which the rich love to quote) says that for those to whom much is given, much is expected. The rich want their freedom and possessions while eschewing the responsibility that accompanies it.

  • Jay Glenn

    organize a peoples congress: regionally, nationally and internationally. a peoples congress is the fulcrum we need to hold governments, corporations and the media accountable. assume responsibility for your world. are you slave or liberator?

  • Ric Shorten

    Unless they all do time…cash penalties are just a cost of doing business!

  • Ric Shorten

    ‘Sir, No Sir’ anti-Vietnam War docu film from 2005 by David Zeiger. See it again…show those 20, 30′s and 40 somethings how we fought the Monster.
    Ric S.@ U of Miami ’69 thro.U of Detroit Mercy ’71
    Now do you see why I’m a little crazy. They are doing it all over again!

  • Ric Shorten

    ‘Sir, No Sir’ anti-Vietnam War docu film from 2005 by David Zeiger. See it again…show those 20, 30′s and 40 somethings how we fought the Monster.

    Now do you see why I’m a little crazy. They are doing it all over again!

  • John Patrick Bush III

    1984, anyone? (Specifically, how the shift of power always is between higher and middle class, with the lower classes only being recognized if it somehow benefits the middle class’s ability to seize power or the upper class’s ability to remain in power. Something George Orwell didn’t foresee however is the internet, and it’s potential to connect and educate the proletariate, however the potential is no good if not taken advantage of. <hint, a meme worth spreading.

  • John Patrick Bush III

    * hint, a meme worth spreading.)

  • Mary Dodd

    “All animals were created equal – but some are more equal than others” George Orwell, Animal Farm

  • Jack Hammer

    very eloquently put, sir.

  • Thomas Czyz

    Civil disobedience. . . is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that numbers of people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. . Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity and war and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.

    Howard Zinn

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    In the USA, 30% of all the money given to politicians, political groups, and media to influence political outcomes comes from the top wealthiest 0.01% of our population.

  • Anonymous

    Exactly. Since the “Reagan revolution”, millionaires have easily become billionaires while billionaires have easily become multi-billionaires. For the uber-rich, apparently, there’s no such thing as “enough.”

  • Bob

    Mitt Romney is the ultimate sociopath- Wall Street was salivating at the vision of his being president!

  • Walter Tonetto

    Those who believe that this or that party, once elected, will do things “right” have invested into illusions … instead of trying to change the world, folks, try changing your minds about the world … only there will you find peace! :-)

  • Blobulent Republican

    Turning off and dropping out isn’t a solution. It just empowers the already overempowered. So, keep up the good work! affectionately signed,

  • PI LIVE

    For such a great country, we have incompetent leaders that are self serving liars, regardless of party. Term limits should be implemented, and contracts signed limited there function for self serving actions.

    http://www.PILIVEradio.com
    Twitter: PILIVEradio
    FB: PI LIVE

  • Susana

    Read all comments. We knew this already. The question is how much more are we willing to take? Are we waiting to live the script of the recent movie Ellysium? Is about us or them. Ladies and Gentlemen all bells are ringing! This will continue until we take it.

  • Noreen Happel

    I think it has something to do with a philosophy we are taught from a young age.
    Be selfish, think only of your own friends and family. I think it may be called Capitalism.

  • Anonymous

    I was never taught that. What kind of parents do you have.

  • Anonymous

    Put in place the regulations that President Roosevelt worked so hard at. And stop voting for people who want less regulations.

  • deleuzean

    Dumbest, most alienating article title ever.

    I exaggerate, but…

    Could some more progressive writers and editors please consider for a second that they might benefit from attempting to draw in readers who are not pre-convinced of their arguments?

    Seems like we’re gonna have to do some of that if we hope to really change things – instead of complaining endlessly about “the bad people” (as defined, of course, by us… in our sad, angry, downtrodden bubble).

  • Pat

    This article speaks the truth, and maybe YOU just don’t like to hear/read the truth! I think these articles are meant to try to help us realize what is going on out there, and that WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING, such as, vote out the bad politicians, spread the word to other people as to what is happening so we can work together to change things, etc. If we all continue to sit complacently then nothing will change, it will only get worse. The TRUTH needs to be told, and some of you just “CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH”. Are you sure you aren’t one of “the bad people” who doesn’t want the rest of us to stand up against what you are doing?

  • Ed

    To simplify your argument, I believe you’re saying: “don’t just preach to the choir.

  • Anonymous

    I think you’re correct, Vox.
    It’s likely the poster meant to identify sociopaths as the 1%, psychopaths as the dangerously armed one-tenth-of-one percent outliers.
    Vocabulary is a dying art.

  • Anonymous

    If you guys had your utopia where capitalists couldn’t become rich from creating goods and services that people want to trade money for, there would still be rich powerful people. In communist and socialist countries there are still the rich and powerful, they are just the politically connected instead of the business people. China and the former Soviet Union had/have layers of elite that got a cushy life that the masses don’t get. And guess what… rich powerful people are still self-centered and jerks. But in our capitalistic country we have the government, and the media monitoring and reporting whether rich, powerful people misbehave.

    When the government has so much power that it decides who deserves money and who doesn’t, the abuses become hidden and people who speak out against the corruption are able to be persecuted by the powerful people whose hands are controlling things and have been given power to bypass limits on their power (natural rights of people, yes, even rich people).

    The only difference will be that the 99% won’t be able complain about the 1%. It’s not more fair, just kept under control. AND the whole system is less productive so there are less goods to go around. Please think before you endorse ideas that have failed, AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN. Who are the perfect unselfish people that can run the system where they can give and take to make things “fair”. They will always think it’s fair for their friends and family to thrive. See Venezuela, Cuba, China, etc., etc., etc.

  • Anonymous

    How will “voting out bad politicians” stop the rich from being selfish? Did you know that the majority of national politicians become rich while in national “service”. (See Harry Reid) All you can do is give them less power, not naively think you are going to find the perfect angels who will use vast amounts of power for good. That’s against human nature. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Checks and balances and the rule of law are the only way to keep selfish rich people (politicians have the most power to do this) from hurting you.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, someone older than 25 that actually believes what Howard Zinn said.

  • Anonymous

    How would be “not take it”? We tried the “Occupy” movements and they did not help and were ridiculed by the media (owned by the rich, of course). Like the Occupy movement, you have not presented an idea as to next steps.

  • Anonymous

    That quote is referring to the gov’t leaders who come to power promising equality for everyone, but end up with a way more cushy elite life than the people they used to get into power. An important lesson that repeats itself every day all over the world.

  • sportzbiker

    Very disturbing. The lawmakers are oblivious to the will and welfare of the people and it will only get worse. The money and power are being concentrated more and more into the hands of the few.

  • Anonymous

    Term limits don’t help. They just replace one rich guy for another. It also limits the power of the people. Making campaigns publicly funded and campaign contributions illegal might help put good people in office. By the time they are on the ballot, they have already been bought by those that paid for their campaign.

  • Anonymous

    So the wingnuts are right, there IS an entitlement society. It’s just not who they keep telling us it is.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, but will giving more power to the lawmakers solve that? No, only more freedoms from government. You will notice that the majority of rich counties (something like 13 out of 20) are concentrated around Washington D. C. Powerful people and their friends get richer and they make it harder for the rest of us to earn a decent living. RAND PAUL ’16!!

  • Anonymous

    The libertarian movement… there will still be rich people, but everyone will have an equal opportunity, not just the powerful, connected and their cronies. Look up Jon Corzine, he’s still a free man after he stole a billion dollars from farmers, because of who he is friends with.

  • Dave Weaver

    “According to OpenSecrets,
    the average net worth of senators in 2011 was $11.9 million, so it
    could be a matter of legislators advancing their own interests and those
    of the people with whom they socialize and associate.”

    Can you say duh? Everyone will “vote” for their own self interest – including representatives and senators. This is NOT news… move along.

  • Pat

    I think there would be some politicians whose interests would be “helping the people”, not their own “self-interests”, if only they could get elected. I never said they have to be perfect angels, but people who truly have character, integrity, honesty, common sense, etc., etc., etc. I do think there are lots of people out there who possess these qualities. The real problem lies with the fact that the rich have the money to fund their campaigns, when I want the average guy/gal to be able to run also. “Campaign finance reform” is what is needed, so the rest of us have a chance to get elected, not just the rich, who only look out for the rich instead of the rest of us. Plus, term limits need to be set, to give others an opportunity to serve, and keep politicians from becoming rich while serving, as you stated. I agree with you that power can corrupt, but not always, even though you state that it is human nature for that to happen. I am truly convinced, (I am a dreamer sometimes), that lots of people would “do the right thing” with their power, and not abuse it for their own selfish interests.

  • Anonymous

    How is that any different that politicians who claim to make everything “fair”? With capitalism we (and the media) can still speak out against inequity, but if you give gov’t the power to switch things around and make them “fair”, their idea of fair will include giving friends and family lots of power and money. The difference will be that you will be arrested for speaking out about it.

  • Anonymous

    That has not been the human experience. Whenever a person or group of people has gotten power (such as the ability to say who can have money and who can’t) it has always corrupted them. Campaign finance reform always just favors the incumbent because they are already in there and have access to publicity and there are no powerful voices that can rise up against them. Why are you scared of more messages being heard in a campaign? Can’t we decide what to believe or not? The media gets to put their opinion out all day every day, why can’t politically minded citizens (or groups of citizens) do the same.

  • FrancescaH

    I hate to tell you thiis but Ron and Rand Paul are both working for the rich – cause the ARE the rich.

  • Anonymous

    That just gives additional power to incumbents. (Who already have a lot of power) Why can’t we judge between all the different voices out there, why do you want to quiet people you don’t like?

  • Anonymous

    Name a politician who isn’t rich…

  • Anonymous

    Or who doesn’t have rich people supporting them…

  • Pat

    “Always corrupted them”, Ann, “always”, are you sure about that? I am not! Plus, you seem very negative, which is not a good thing. Just think if all of us became nothing but negative, who would do anything to make a positive change? I prefer to think, preach, and hope for positive changes ahead for this country. I have 3 sons, who I want to have live here and do well, just like my father and mother and my family did/do. We need to keep trying, and never give up! I am not afraid to challenge what I think is wrong, and work to try to change it, with whatever capabilities I have.

  • deleuzean

    Indeed. Thank you for understanding.

    One challenge I think progressives face is to convince people other than ourselves and our close friends that the changes we believe in are necessary and desirable for all people.

    From my experience in a low-level management job (as well as all sorts of other personal experience), I am a firm believer that it’s quite counter-productive to call people names like “self-centered jerk” when I’d like more than anything to genuinely influence their behavior in what I believe is a positive direction.

    It’s kind of like giving up before you’ve even started, because you’re setting up the “self-centered jerks” as a kind of impenetrable, monolithic “other” group that all you can manage to do is impotently hurl personal insults at.

    I think we have to always move outward from the core premise that goodness, cooperation, altruism, etc. are inherent human qualities that become unfortunately clouded by fear, anger and pain. We need to make friends of our perceived enemies.

    I know it’s difficult to step beyond vindictiveness, because it really does seem like the “self-centered jerks” in positions of power deserve their comeuppance. But you have to remember that THEY are the ones who currently define who will influence policy. Therein lies the challenge.

  • Anonymous

    I tried hard to like Ron Paul. He was definitely not bought like the others. But I cannot support someone who would dismantle all the social safeguards that we have fought so hard to keep. He essentially wants to be President of something he wants to dismantle. Ron Paul’s America would just send all that social security and medicare program money right to the banks and the insurance companies, respectively, making the rich richer and leaving no programs for the poor. This is not something I could support.

  • Tony

    Those are the want to be’s who have to shop at walmart so that they can make those car payments.

  • Anonymous

    Unrealistic people like you give power to politicians based on promises that they make. By the time they have taken so much power that you realize that they are hurting you, it’s too late. Study your history and see what we have compared to other countries around the world before you spout off about changing things to this great democratic republic that has prospered more than any other system in the world. And I don’t give up, I’m politically active and vote every time for politicians to have less power, to control fewer parts of the economy and to give people FREEDOM! Not false promises of slippery notions of “fair”.

  • Ankynan

    Seven studies have shown that people who watch Fox “news” are actually LESS informed than people who watch NO news coverage.

  • deleuzean

    I think it’s quite a good article, actually. It presents very nicely referenced research conclusions in a brief, easy to read form. The problem I have with it is the title, which problem I further elucidated in a reply to another comment above.

    I like social science research. I think the solid, statistically-driven conclusions drawn from it can be very valuable in terms of driving policy decisions. I would say that this is as true for “activist policy making” as it should be for governmental policy making.

    Calling people we disagree with “self-centered jerks,” and doing so right in the headline of an essay that they (the supposed “self-centered jerks”) would very much benefit from reading… that’s not good policy. It’s sloppy thinking driven by anger and hopelessness (much like, I hasten to suggest, your repeated leaning on the caps lock button above), and it happens far too often.

  • Anonymous

    Who judges what is truth? In the last election I watched a moderator say that something Mitt Romney said wasn’t true in the debate and then go on the aftershows and admit that what he said actually was true. And how about all the lies about “you can keep your dr. if you want”, “healthcare will cost less”. The people in power said they were true, but they weren’t.

  • Anonymous

    That ship has left the station, no one will take away SS or Medicare. At this point all anyone is arguing about is whether to let the country go the way of Detroit or be solvent to pay the promises it has already made.

  • Rickey Gard Diamond

    How can we help but promote the self-interests of the self-interested when money determines whether one can run for office or not? Open Secrets indeed. Which rich bastard do you want in power? You get to choose….it’s a free country, right? That’s why we have an all white rich male bastion In Congress and on Wall Street.

  • JonThomas

    Don’t fret too much there Pat. Being hopeful is not being unrealistic. Envision a realistic goal, then work towards it.

    If others want to bow to fatalism, well, that’s what they are working towards.

    Libertarianism has some very good facets, but it’s foolish to assume that without a regulating body, the same human nature that brings about uncontrolled lust and greed, would be controlled by a person who has ‘freedom.’

    Ask yourself how children behave when parents aren’t there to enforce rational measures.

    Freedom, believe it or not, only exists within limits. Anyone who believes it doesn’t, thinks they can breath underwater.

  • JonThomas

    It might be better to to let it default.

  • Bonnie Rice

    Would true democracy ever work? Where everyone gets to vote on everything? A process whereby private citizens can introduce bills? It’s not as if our politicians are spending a lot of time actually voting. Think of the money we’d save. If the rich only had one vote per adult person, they’d be a minuscule minority, but they’d still have their money–just not the added political power. Crazy, I know, but what we’ve got now isn’t working any more either.

  • Anonymous

    check themselves out in a mirror? that’s pathetic/hilarious.

  • JNWesner

    You say “Only the rich can run for office and succeed. The only way to change it would be to make all political contributions illegal and elections financed publicly.” There is another way, but it’s far more difficult. The citizens would need to ignore political advertising (ignoring it all wouldn’t be a bad idea) and listen to the words of the candidates. Then compare their words to their past deeds and see what they would really do if elected. It takes effort and time, but it could correct the problem over time.

  • deleuzean

    I’m pretty confident that Libertarianism is at worst corrupt (at least at the level of its leadership) and at best misguided (at the level of its less powerful rank and file adherents).

    I think we need to work toward policy making that yields *effective* regulation of the economy, protection of workers, consumers and the environment. We need to be willing to try different ways of doing things (for example: the Affordable Care Act), and give them time to work. If they don’t work, then we need to build in the understanding that things that don’t work well will be changed.

    It is, however, glaringly obvious that the deregulation and so-called tax reform (driven by both Republicans and Democrats) of the past 3 decades has made for our nation a huge mess of extreme inequality, economic and otherwise.

    I’m not saying no one should be rich, but maybe we could make it culturally offensive for the extreme degree of inequality that now exists to continue and escalate unquestioned.

  • Anonymous

    One word…depressing.

  • FedUp

    Well, this has always been obvious. The problem is that these are the people who are in positions of power, so they actively create an environment, through legislation or whatever, that caters to themselves and their like-minded special interests. This is one of the fundamental problems with Capitalism, it promotes this attitude and justifies it without sufficient accountability. Then they hide behind the completely unrealistic philosophy that EVERYONE should think like this, that this is indicative of success, and that if you don’t strive for it, you are lazy. Well, perhaps it just means we are more civil, ethical, moral, altruistic, realistic, etc. Don’t try and tell me a blue-collar construction worker, waitress, etc is lazy, they work harder than any millionaire. I’d much rather go to meetings, push paper, and play with Excel spreadsheets than break my back for minimum wage, but at least I don’t have to become a vile narcissist. I’ve always contended there is no such thing as a clean million dollars, a clean political seat, etc. Because you absolutely have to compromise those values to reach that point of “success”. It’s deplorable that we glamorize this in our society, while at the same time being victimized by the 1% to ensure their “entitlements”.

  • FedUp

    “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”. That’s all you need to know, this left vs. right debate is ridiculous, because both are wrong in their absolute perspectives. Unless we have a hybrid society, where the welfare of citizens is more important than the unchecked limitless greed of capitalism, we will always experience the consequences of the extremes in capitalism. There is no reason we can’t have a society where people can get rich. But it shouldn’t be at the expense of the welfare of the many to cater to the few. Take money and business out of politics. Place accountability standards on businesses – if you want to profit from something, you must also be accountable for the consequences of the manufacture and sale of those products. If you’re going to manipulate humans using slick psychological marketing techniques for those cigarettes and Big Mac’s, you should be required to contribute a portion of those products to educating the public, to funding healthcare costs associated with obesity, heart disease, lung disease, etc. There should not be an unfettered environment where earning as much profit as possible is good, and placing the cost of the consequences of those profits on the public.

  • Ankynan

    I’ve been learning about the long-term programs designed to turn us against one another. It’s scary stuff. They really want us to focus on anything but what the Magicians are doing. Check out http://www.hearyourselfthink.org

  • Anonymous

    Who would place “accountability standards” on businesses? The same people who funneled money to their pals at Solyndra an d Evergreen Solar? The same people who allowed NSA officers to spy on their love interests? You admit that power corrupts, yet you want to allow politicians vague subjective powers over free market transactions! It will be abused just like it has been every time it’s been tried.

    The media and the government can slap down bad corp. actors. But some people are stupid and still choose to buy cigarettes and Big Macs. I buy neither, but don’t want a country where politicians make them illegal. People need to have the freedom to feel the consequences of stupid decisions. The government can’t hold your hand and say, no no. People used to be more responsible before the govt started treating everyone like children.

  • Anonymous

    How can libertarian politicians be corrupt when they are giving themselves less power… When they vote themselves less ability to reward thei friends and punish their enemies?

  • JonThomas

    I enjoy some libertarian ideals, but I’m curious..do libertarians believe in changing the Constitution in order to bring it into alignment with the capitalist model?

  • Pamela Mackey

    Ditto.

  • Rob

    You Know, this behavior reminds me of substance addicted addicts.

  • Rob

    Well, the first thing we can do is get rid of the winner take all 2 party system. It’s very easy for the moneyed interests in this country to game the system when only dealing with 2 groups. although not perfect, If you have multiple parties with proportional representation, it would be much harder for these corrupting forces to take hold.

    Secondly, We need to make it illegal, in perpetuity for any former Federal public servant to associate for pay with any lobbying firm, under penalty of imprisonment.

  • Ed

    To be honest, I have some neighbors whom I consider self-centered jerks, but I never tell them that. Instead, I try to patiently move them a little left of their right wing extremism. However, it’s very difficult to convince them. It’s even more difficult to stay patient. The patience needs to be cultivated.

  • Anonymous

    But the Democrats are no better – they want to look like they are listening to the poor. Honestly this whole business of politics and politics as a profession is a scam honored and supported by an outdated system of government – we are living in the Information Age or so we claim – we should SERIOUSLY think about DIRECT DEMOCRACY.

  • Anonymous

    Democrats are no better – they want to look like they are listening to the poor. Honestly this whole business of politics and politics as a profession is a scam honored and supported by an outdated system of government – we are living in the Information Age or so we claim – we should SERIOUSLY think about DIRECT DEMOCRACY.

  • Ed

    Pat,
    I think you completely misunderstood deleuzean. He’s merely saying that if you just preach to those who agree with you, you will anger those who disagree, and thus turn them off completely.

    Your message is filled with anger, and you don’t convince people by implying that they’re jerks.

  • Ed

    No argument from me.

  • Ron Greenstein

    “Suffering comes through ignorance or attachment to illusions. Most people play with illusions like children play with toys. If you get caught up in the ephemeral things of this world and cling to illusory values, suffering is inevitable. It is not easy for little children to give up their toys, for they become the victims of a habit which they cannot undo. In the same way, through millions of lives, you have got into the habit of playing with illusions. It is difficult for you to get disentangled from them.” – Meher Baba

  • deleuzean

    One of the things we need to work toward is separating politicians from the broader and more impersonal notions of government agencies and the policies they are charged with carrying out. Such policies and agencies need to be crafted so that as much as possible they can operate for the benefit of the citizenry with less need for concern about the more or less ethical personalities of individual politicians.

    There is a fundamental misapprehension many libertarians have in which the idea of “powerful politicians” (and taking them down so that their unethical behavior can be curtailed) is conflated with “government” as a whole – the daily functioning of which should rightly be to regulate the functioning of things intra- and inter-nationally that have been proven not to work well when left in the hands of wealthy private individuals and large corporations (because of, for example, the problems pointed out by the research highlighted in the above article).

  • Anonymous

    The current Constitution will do just fine! Libertarians believe in the Constitution, they just don’t believe in ignoring it to make laws, or ignoring it by the executive or judicial branches. We have a beautiful democratic republic, if we can keep it.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, wouldn’t that be nice. And wouldn’t it be nice if I had a pet Pegasus to ride on!!

    When you give them more power they just have more goodies to auction off to lobbyists, family members etc. The key is just to enforce contracts, the Constitution, and basic laws and let people engage in making free agreements to trade.

  • Anonymous

    Libertarians aren’t anarchists. They just believe that the Constitution means what it says and shouldn’t be stretched to encroach on tiny details of our life and livelihood.

    The rule of law, properly enforced is perfectly fine for uncontrolled lust and greed. Name one corporation that has been allowed to run roughshod over individuals, the only two I can think of are politically connected ones. Which is why powers of govt should be limited to those enumerated in the Constitution.

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t see any mention of political affiliation in the article. Did I miss it?

  • JonThomas

    Interesting, especially since the U.S. Constitution is a decidedly Socialist instrument.

    Powers are given to Government for imposing duties and tariffs, the regulation of commerce, and among other delineated powers and principles, the LIMITED times to be given to patents and copyrights.

    Most Libertarians will claim that government has no authority to regulate business. It’s refreshing to see a Libertarian who is actually for the people and the Socialist ideals of the founding fathers. Good for you.

  • Anonymous

    As long as we value currency, instead of truly useful wealth, this will ALWAYS be the outcome. Sometimes, if well implemented, and if corruption is truly made illegal and prosecuted, a Democratic system of governance can counterbalance the Greedy and Avaricious tendencies which typically accompany the world view of those who seek power. This was the system design by the framers who saw themselves as needing to break form the power of Imperial Great Britain. Alas, once the European Bankers, (via seditious inflammation and investment), bought enough influence to convince Woodrow Wilson to enter WWI and he knew that to do so, he must raise the treasury balance, thereofr trading $200MM US Gold backed dollars for the soul of our Democracy and creating a Central bank to fund US Empire building (which the Europeans had learned how to do, and had been doing in Europe for centuries by then), we have been doomed. Nixon confounded it by trading Petrodollars for gold backed money after illegally freezing the value of gold vs. US currency. The rest is Oil covered bloody history, which is about to come to another inflection point as an economy and infrastructure based on $25.00/bbl oil realizes that it has borrowed all the money needed to maintain the illusion of oil being priced @$25.00 bbl causing all other commodities necessary for living to be commensurately undervalued. When we reset value to current energy realities, (1940 1 bbl oil used yielded 100 bbls return – 2012 it’s 1 to 3), and all other commodities reset to a true wealth & resource based credit system, things are likely to look, much, much differently. Assuming you survive the initial onslaught of Urban refugees in full blown crises mode…

  • JonThomas

    Which 2 corporations are you thinking of? If I list JUST 2 of mine, do you promise that you won’t copy the same ones?

    How about the Tobacco companies which lied for years and instead of being held directly accountable to the people they killed, were allowed to beg off with a monetary slap on the wrist.

    Shouldn’t they be in jail on death row for murder.

    How about the recent fertilizer plant explosion in Texas which killed 35 or so people and that government regulations only required to have $1,000,000 in liability insurance?

    They were SUPPOSED to conform to Government safety and environmental regulations, but gosh darn it, they didn’t get it done in time before they killed those people and destroyed a neighborhood.

    I guess ‘the market’ failed to invisibly make those people safer.

    BTW…the Constitution DOES enumerate powers to regulate commerce!

  • jm

    If you have to make laws to gain wealth and position for your company it is not Capitalism it’s Corporatism. It is important to know the difference

  • Rick

    Currency is the problem?

    What an odd thought.

  • Rick

    I wouldn’t blame the voters. Unless they think that their votes are going to people who represent them.

  • Anonymous

    That’s my story – and I’m sticking to it. There is a difference between Debt (me based) and Credit (we based). Currency is to facilitate Empire, nothing more. It stops the legion from pillaging by empowering them with a trade device accepted by local “wealth / Commodity” providers, food, water, the stuff of life. But why would locals accept it? Taxes can only be paid with currency, not cows, water, grain or goats. THAT is what currency is for. Then when you connect it to interest bearing debt, (usury), then you create a need to create money or commodities to pay off the debt, for which money has never been generated. So there is more debt+interest in existence than there is money to be gotten to pay it back. As debt grows, the number of losers (in default) grow, so assets (wealth-commodities), are seized. With nothing to offer then but themselves, and with their labor not being valued as worthy of currency, unless they go into slavery, or prison, or die, someone has to take care of them. That’s what the taxes are for. But at the end of the day, no money is ever brought into existence to cover the interest on debts, so your currency system is the most well loved ponzi scheme in the history of mankind. It’s humanities biggest flim-flam. Worse – everybody believes in it. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We’ve MADE it that way, intentionally.

  • Patrick Henry

    ” The real problem lies with the fact that the rich have the money to fund their campaigns “….only partly true. More importantly, was the Citizens United supreme court ruling which in essence allows PACs to hide the identity of the plutocrats and corporatist
    who are buying congress and country. It is the unbridled greed of these people that has undermined the economic and social fabric of the U.S.. There are, imho, people in government, wall street and board rooms who have committed treason and belong in prison!!! I live for the day when the peasants storm the castle.

  • BBQDad

    We can buy all that you have with a tiny fraction of our wealth. We can use eminent domain to force you to sell it to us—at a price we dictate. We can use the power of the State to impose our will upon you. Fewer than four out of a thousand of you will ever escape from the bottom one-fifth of the economy.
    We’ve broken your unions, we’ve exported many of your jobs to Communist Red China, and we’ve hired illegal aliens to do the jobs we cannot reasonably export to the ChiComs.
    We’ve established our absolute right to deceive you, and to abrogate contracts with you if we wish, including the contracts that say you get a pension, so that we can take away your incomes when you are old.

    We’ve bought your Federal and State Governments. We own them, and they work obediently for us, not you.
    You will do whatever we tell you to do.
    You will do nothing that we do not tell you to do.
    You will accept gratefully whatever we choose to give you.
    You will never, ever complain.

  • deleuzean

    I’m just going to give it one more shot to see if you’ll try to understand the point I’m trying to make, because it seems like you persistently want to disregard my point in favor of bringing things back to the “get rid of the government in order to stop bad politicians abusing their power” argument.

    I think you are even in partial agreement with me.

    The fact is that as a nation the US is simply too large and too populous to function effectively with the extremely basic system of government that you and other Libertarians suggest – particularly as applies to so called “free agreements to trade.” Again, this argument is supported by the research in the above essay. Disproportionately wealthy people are capable, because of their extreme wealth, to make different kinds of “free agreements to trade,” and the evidence presented above supports the notion that they require some kind of system of regulation to help reign in their tendency to behave badly.

    And again, I want to emphasize the concept of “systems” instead of “individual politicians.”

  • JO

    So, euthanasia for the super-rich? Perhaps the only solution to our country’s problems.

  • MyStory Revealed

    The article said this is pervasive in both parties, as I recall.

  • Anonymous

    Basically, why our whole society (and the Earth itself) is swirling down the toilet bowl. We can’t be a nation worth living in without real citizen democracy, transparency, a healthy and open media, and a thriving and dominant majority in the middle class. Can we bring back the 93% tax rate for the super rich now? And reinstate the Fairness Act and all the rest of the stuff Reagan and his myopic ilk threw into the garbage can? If we don’t, the narcissistic nincompoops with destroy the environment and everything else.

  • Anonymous

    I really thought it was supposed to be a democracy, I really did.

  • Anonymous

    They will only get started before the people will rise up in a class war and kill most of them. That won’t get us out of the toilet, but it will sure give satisfaction to all of us in the downwardly-mobile middle class, we whose families sweated and bled to build this nest for these cowbirds to lay their eggs in.

  • Anonymous

    Why euthanasia? I want to hear the Koch brothers shriek in agony for a few days. I say dissolve them alive in an aquarium filled six inches deep with H2SO4.

  • Anonymous

    That attitude puts a bullseye on your bellybutton, BBQdad. And so also on to your children. Of course, you are being sarcastic, but when the class war comes, I suspect that the worst offenders, like the Koch brothers, Norquist, Limbaugh, Coulter, and Beck, will die absolutely horrifying deaths. Perhaps by inserting a slime eel into their rectums and letting it eat its way out.

  • Phil Coates

    The same could equally be said about NBC news, CBS News, ABC News, MSNBC and CNN News. They all have their own agenda that drives their messages through the news. Fox is the only channel with a conservative political bent, the rest are decidedly liberal.

  • Phil Coates

    A challenge we all face is to accept that what we hold to be a “positive direction” in our own view may be quite the opposite in the point of view of others. Looking to someone from Berkeley for anything other than a pro-liberal conclusion to any political or social study is almost certain to be a waste of time. Unless we are open to the possibility that our enemies may be right, we have no business expecting them to be receptive to views they do not share.

    Money-making is rarely on the agenda of those who choose academia as their field of work so we cannot expect them to be sympathetic to those who focus has been on creating wealth through their ideas and hard work. Bill Gates, Andrew Carnegie and many rich men across the years have been responsible for creating work opportunities for countless millions, for funding and founding academic institutions and for making massive contributions to charities and other areas of public benefit. Whether they look in the mirror more than I do or feel satisfaction for what they may have achieved is of no real consequence to me in evaluating thier contribution to the global community.

  • Anonymous

    If we had an estate tax with teeth, that would indeed get us out of the toilet, maybe even get a nice warm bath started.

    But beware the fundamental misattribution error, always!

  • Anonymous

    If you think about it, money *is* laundering. It divorces power from context, influence from influencer.

  • Anonymous

    You wouldn’t blame the voters for thinking all the world of what is little more than a biennial beauty pageant of aristocrats? Why stay at the table if all you’re doing is losing? The game needs you more than you need it.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t believe representative democracy *can* represent people equally. By design, it advantages those of high birth and operates as a covert aristocracy. In light of the article, the outcome should be obvious.

  • Anonymous

    Who told you that? High school civics is only the part of the story that’s believed appropriate for those of low birth. The little people are discouraged from knowing the true and complete story, lest they get ideas above their station.

    Which was all well and good when the Anglo-Saxon caste system had real social utility. Now, the tenets of Anglo-Saxon culture have outlived their usefulness, and it’s time to start afresh.

  • Anonymous

    And that makes it acceptable? Why do you think the rich will have any less agency absent government? They can still hire Pinkerton’s and judges, and we still can’t.

  • Anonymous

    Are you so willfully blind to the power of money?

  • Anonymous

    What employer would accept that the right of the employee to wreck up their factory/office for the remainder of their scheduled shift is superior to their right to physically remove the employee from the premises?

    Without a way for a citizen to directly, instantly and with full force and effect fire an elected official, the hazards will persist.

  • Anonymous

    Partisanship is for weak, stupid doormats.

    You do know it’s 100% lawful to completely lie in a news piece, don’t you? Go look up Jane Akre.

  • Anonymous

    General strikes are illegal precisely because they work. Think about that.

  • Anonymous

    Because they’re proven liars, and the Constitution provides far too many protections to liars. Why don’t you want communities getting together and doing things? How much do you and/or your employers profit from keeping them from acting/buying as a unit?

  • Anonymous

    Not necessarily. What if one’s assent to the system is a large fraction of its power? General strikes are illegal because they work.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, a significant part of K-12 schooling is devoted to rationalizing unearned aristocratic power (by any other name).

  • Anonymous

    It goes back to Federalist #10, and the British Empire in particular made a fine art of it.

  • Anonymous

    There is no left in US politics. There’s a center-right pro-aristocrat party and a far-right pro-aristocrat party. The aristocrats are the designated winners, with great portions of the system built to ensure that outcome, and you won’t even be allowed to vote against them.

    Turning one’s back to the system seems the most powerful act right now.

  • Anonymous

    In truth, a good idea. The dead-weight MBAs of the world demand 3% annual growth, forever, and that can come from more productivity or more customers. I wonder if anti-abortion political activity is inversely correlated with productivity growth…

  • Anonymous

    And demand that representatives, if there is no other way to render that evil unnecessary, work from their district. There is no reason to have any legislature sitting in plenary session beyond the ceremonial, and plenty of reasons to chain them closer to their nominal constituents than to K Street.

  • Anonymous

    Partisan fluffery. The actions of Obama on behalf of high finance and against its customers are well-documented. Why are partisans so schizophrenic, right down to the splitting?

  • Anonymous

    Well that’s only as long as the current game matters to people, isn’t it?

  • Anonymous

    ALWAYS make a point to assume they are acting completely rationally based on their information and perceptions. Never be so quick to label someone as mentally ill.

    The rational explanation is: Insurance. The more you have, it is believed, the more likely you will be first in line when scarcity comes. That’s what happens without community lifeboats guaranteed to everyone: someone builds their own, mounts cannon on it and then what?

  • Anonymous

    May I suggest a trip to Wikipedia to look up the “fundamental misattribution error”? In fact, may I suggest that for everyone who happens to read this and is a bit too sure of who is to blame?

  • Anonymous

    Why would they care? Why would they need charity when they have coercion?

  • Anonymous

    Or, maybe bourgeois legitimacy doesn’t mean much to them in an absolute, not relative, sense.

  • Anonymous

    Sounds to me like you might be someone who understands why Article 1, Section 10 of the Constitution says “no state shall make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a tender in payment of debt.”

  • Pat

    Me spout off!!! Really, look who’s talking! You have more posts on here then anyone. You sound a little “know it all-ish” too. You don’t have all the answers, and neither does anybody else on here. If only we had more doers than talkers!

  • moderator

    Pat and AnnW

    You both have made your points, please avoid personal attacks or you will be unable to continue commenting.

    Sean @ Moyers

  • moderator

    Pat and Ann W

    You both have made your points clearly. Please avoid personal attacks or you will be unable to continue commenting.

    Sean @ Moyers

  • George

    What you allude to is the fact that there are no parties at the 1% level. It’s all for us and none for all. And they have effectively bought both major political parties in America to ensure their interest are always first. The latest revelations about Obama, Summers, Geithner and Robert Rubin suggest the Dems are just as much in the hip pocket of the Plutocrats as the Republicans are. And the illusion we’re choosing different governance philosophies is totally bogus. The truth becomes increasingly apparent with every passing day in Washington, where no one can figure out why Obama is behaving like a Republican, with respect to financial and business issues. He’s just doing what all good politicians do – payback their supporters. ;-)

  • Richard

    Your view of Libertarians is simplistic and quite misleading. Very few would claim that govt in general has no authority to regulate business. True, they see the marketplace as the arbiter of default, and they’re especially skeptical of federal intervention in the economy, but even then there’s no blanket opposition to federal action in the sovereign interest, if that stance is achieved through constitutional means.

    Calling the US Constitution “socialist” is pretty absurd, too, unless you have adopted the Fox News/Glenn Beck definition of the word. In economic terms, it was a compromise document between the mercantalists and the free-traders. Of course the Constitution empowers the government to act for the general welfare of the people, but it does not empower it to communalise private property to achieve that end. The original Constitution allowed the federal government to tax wealth (although not wages), or even set up state-owned enterprises, but has numerous safeguards against the forced amalgamation and distribution of property and capital.

  • Richard

    Not every Libertarian thinks Ayn Rand was a prophet. Nor are a majority of the obstructionist Republicans libertarian-minded at all.

    In fact, Libertarianism isthe only political tendency that underscores the connection between corporatism and government bloat. They don’t oppose Obamacare because it is “socialist”; they oppose it because it hands unprecedented market power to an annointed insurance cartel, and enlists federal money directly in the cause of the highest possible prices. They argue against federal spending generally because they believe it exterminates competition, giving rise to a corporate ologarchies in which wealth is apportioned rather than earned.

    In other words, Libertarians understand the difference between the free market, and corporate rule. That’s more than you can say about most Republicans, or Democrats.

  • Damian

    The
    future is so much more than just the world. Present day technology is
    sufficient for individuals to build personal spacecraft as well as
    orbiting habitats and factories with all necessary life support systems
    and communications. Yet almost no one understand the power and
    capabilities of the programmable femto-second quantum cascade laser
    array which can implement both catalytic chemical restructuring on
    demand but molecular positioning and orientation as well for
    nano-assembly.
    What does this mean? It means that you can fabricate your hamburger, computer, spaceship or whatever is physically possible to construct be it nanobots to repair your DNA or fix your ailing liver or give you eyes in the back of your head – the limits are not yet imaginable.
    The point of my post is – Why are we squabbling over who gets a piddling entitlement when what I’ve just mentioned is a very real present day possibility for everyone?

  • Damian

    Scarcity
    is artificial. Don’t buy the lie. The only thing we need to fix all the
    world’s problems has already been made. A while ago Bell labs produced a
    programmable femto-second quantum cascade laser array (QCLA) on a chip
    which supports the functions of a programmable catalyst for steering
    chemical reactions of any supply of elements of chemicals into anything
    that can even theoretically be made from
    those constituents – as well as moving the molecules around &
    positioning them for assembly into larger structures. With this one
    could implement 100% recycling, food and drug production at home as well
    as everything presently manufactured in factories and an unknown number
    of things that could only be produced by such additive processes.
    (including more QCLAs so your friends could have one and make some for
    their friends…)
    Demand access!

  • Anonymous

    Who is stopping a “community from getting together and doing things”? No one is stopping that. Have you heard of the AARP? Even the Occupy movement last year tried to use communities to get political power. You are free to do whatever you want. How do “my employers” stand in the way of that? I have no idea what you are talking about.

  • Corlia

    Perhaps slave labor? I like that idea….

  • Corlia

    Thank you for this interesting and insightful article. It confirms what we’ve suspected for a long time.

  • Timothy Burns

    OOOh! So much more creative than your H2SO4 idea! We’ll make you head executioner!

  • Timothy Burns

    America has NEVER been a democracy. It is a Federal Republic.

  • A Progressive Patriot

    Romney

  • A Progressive Patriot

    Amen

  • JonThomas

    Well, it is true that my comment was simplistic, but it was not misleading. Just as there are many variances in the beliefs of any political, or economic system, the form of Libertarian-ism which I was discussing, and the form that many Libertarians advocate is exemplified by Ann W, the person with whom I was responding.

    I shall take back my use of the word “most,” as it obviously paints with too broad a brush.

    If you scroll down below, in other comments, you will find the Libertarian defense of corporations. You will see that the form of Libertarian-ism being propounded is that of laissez faire Capitalism.

    It is interesting that there is an internal struggle to define Libertarian ideals. It’s the same problem many groups have. Just when you can be proud of something, someone comes along, claiming to be a ‘brother’ and says or does the most ridiculous thing. Oh well.

    As far as my characterization of the Constitution, the document itself describes the Government not as being a mindless entity of it’s own, but rather an organization of the People brought together in a union to accomplish the goals laid out in the Constitution. It does align quite closely with the ideals of Social democracy.

    Among those goals is the regulation of commerce, to garner (after compensation) ‘communal’ private property, and to protect the welfare of the people (and against your supposition, it is ‘empowered to communalize private property to achieve that end’…think 5th Amendment. The acquisition of the land for military bases, federal, state, county, and municipal parks are prime examples.)

    You are however correct that there are also safeguards against government over-reach. The point I was making, albeit in the extreme to make a case and reign in the conversation, is that contrary to what many Free-Market Libertarians would like people to believe, the Constitution does in no-way support an ‘invisible hand,’ completely free from any regulation.

    The Constitution clearly spells out the role of the People, the Society, in the regulation of commercial interests.

    My own personal read, as far as it’s role concerning the economy, is that The Constitution forms a balance between the wants of any person, group, or institution (including the Government itself) and the welfare of The People who come together to form The Union.

    As I said, there are many facets of Libertarian-ism which I believe are in the best interests of humanity, but I think before it can become useful, Libertarians must strive to get their house in order. Perhaps the best thing they can do, in order to avoid misapprehension, is to distance themselves from Conservative, Free-Market, Crony Capitalist Republicans.

    Ty for providing a more static, balanced view of the Libertarian ideal.

  • ccaffrey

    Exactly!! A point I have often exchanged with friends. That may be the reason every major faith tradition warns against the love of wealth and worldly power. It’s a level of addiction that would make a junkie blush. But like most severe addictions it takes no heed of the wide swath of destruction it leaves in its path. It is at this level, too, an addiction to competition. Really, when you have a bazillion dollars, what more could you need…obviously a bazillion and TWO dollars if your competitor has a baziilion and ONE. What puzzles me, though, is if you look at people who are fans of a particular sports team, they would be screaming bloody murder if one team, or the referees, were found to be committing violations or taking bribes. Yet, in the far more serious matters of the laws that govern our and our childrens’ futures, people just shrug and say “oh well, that’s politics.” They seem to equally excuse “business” as though the kind of business practices in place are set in stone somewhere.

  • Phil Coates

    Perhaps it’s really not that the rich get ahead so much as the the selfish get rich. Some rich people get poor and die penniless and some poor people succeed and end up as rich women and men. Many lottery winners end up poor.

  • ccaffrey

    I think it advantages those of high money, or high campaign contributions, not necessarily of high birth. Look at John Boehner’s background or Rick Perry’s. Nope. The money and power accrue AFTER they get into positions of power, and increases based on how much they can do for those in business or banking.

  • Richard

    It’s quite true that Libertarians love corporations — the more of them, the better — and are skeptical of any state efforts to restrict economic freedom. This is wholly distinct, though, from advocating corporate political power, or abdicating the right of the people to good representative government.

    Libertarians understand that Big Govt is most dangerous when it colludes with Big Biz. And indeed most federal spending initiatives primarily benefit those contracted to carry it out, and fuel wholly predictable unintended consequences. Obamacare is no exception.

    LIbertarian intellectual history is defined not only by its aversion to federal bloat, but also its supicion of large banking structures, their seemless integration with the Federal Reserve, and their ability produce the illusion of wealth where none is actually created, and much of it destroyed. At one end of the Libertarian specturm, you find “hard money” people advocating virtually the same approach to monetisation as the fin-de-siecle populists and William Jennings Bryant. Others want a modernised gold standard. But either approach would be a massive challenge to the status quo by dismantling or scaling down the Federal Reserve — far more radical than anything liberal dems propose.

    Among sincere Libertarians (not the sham Fox News variety), there are of course divisions. Some are pro-globalisation and oppose any and all capital controls; others are actually mercantalists who prioritise sovereign imperatives, oppose “free-trade” agreements with countries hostile to American interests, and apply a strict interests test to all overseas dealings in both geo-politics and trade.

    And at the coal face, Libertarian thought allows for a widest possible view on social policy, simply by recognising that the Constution never removed state sovereignty on those matters, except where explicitly specified. A Libertarian can be explicitly pro-life or pro-choice, for example. But Libertarians almost all oppose Roe V Wade, NOT because it enshrined abortion as a right, but because it usurped the power of the states to govern their own social policy. That’s why even pro-life Libertarians generally oppose a constitutional amendment banning abortion.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with you on everything except the tax rate and the fairness act. Neither on is fair to anyone. How can raising the tax rate on the rich help the middle class? How does the fairness act help anyone? Please explain? Thanks!

  • http://thewayitis-kj.blogspot.com/ Kent Johnson

    How about “Social entrepeneur” Bob Buford and his billionaire pals exploiting the untapped economic potential of churches and charities as a step to world domination, to fulfill the dream of their lord and savior, Management-consultant turned ” “social ecologist” Peter F Drucker…

    Starting with the “New Reformation” of Christianity on the multi-campus Megachurch network model.

    Buford’s partner Phil Anschutz alone is worth $10 Billion…Hill and Knowlton’s president was in on the ground floor–Saddleback.. Willow Creek, C Peter Wagner were all groomed and financed by Leadership Network, Based In Dallas, founded by
    Drucker and Buford.
    That’s how Oprah’s favorite preacher Rick Warren gets to “Transform” mineral-rich African countries for the U. N.

  • segmentis

    Are you quite mad? Think about the difference between 1% of a billionaire’s income and 1% of the income of someone below the poverty line–increasingly more Americans. Then consider that taxes are used for services and infrastructure that benefit us all, and make everyone’s success possible in the first place. As for the Fairness Doctrine, contrary to Limbaugh’s lies, it only required that both sides be given equal time on the airwaves taxpayers of all political beliefs subsidize. How on earth would that not be fair?

  • Heather Mash

    I’ve noticed that, too much money and not enough interest in the greater good of all people. H.

  • segmentis

    The people are getting their “information” from media owned by the ultra-rich and from politicians who twist the truth and don’t get called on it. So in reality, the people do NOT, in fact, know who and what sucks.

  • Heather Mash

    Rick, the statement ‘Currency is the problem?” ..”What an odd thought.” I like your comment, but TL jr. has no ‘thought’ at all if he truly believes it. Wonder if TL jr. would like to expanded on this statement? H.

  • segmentis

    And the center cannot hold. Greedy short-sightedness on the part of the few eventually (1) eliminates the market as fewer and fewer people can afford to pay for goods and services and (2) leads to revolution, beheadings, that sort of thing. Fools and their money.

  • Heather Mash

    The people are not to blame! Corporations have taken over legislation, voters rights, financial control around the world. There seems to be a terrible imbalance between our democracy and Corporation control, with no oversights and legislation Corporations make to protect themselves for profit sake. It’s not big government that’s undermining our Country or the people it’s too big to fail Corporations.

  • Heather Mash

    If you read our history you will find that the 1% always played both parties this is nothing new. What’s new is corporate control with out oversight they’re all too big to fail. The Tea Party was backed by the Koch Brothers surprised? It’s money that talks and the Koch brothers used and stired up angry people that are anti governmnet and some that are extremists in their relgious views to undermine our democracy to serve their own views. Check out PEW research and see the demographs of the Tea Party. H.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe I am mad in some peoples viewpoint! First the taxes you say will be used to benefit everyone will not do so. When ever taxes are raised Congress merely uses the money to start new unneeded programs supposedly for the poor. New government agencies are created that do not benefit anyone except the government. More power is given to the government to control everyone’s lives. Look at what happened with the financial meltdown. We already had the SEC in place to police the banks and financial institutions. Did they do their jobs? No! They were to busy watching porn to try and make sure that the banks weren’t creating another financial meltdown. Of course our government has some blame coming. As does the Fed. Remember Barney Frank saying everything was fine at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2007? Remember Ben Bernanke saying that the housing market was fine also in 2007. Bush continued to question the problems that were brewing at Fannie and Freddie but was told by Frank everything was fine. We all know what happened next. Now we have a huge law in the making called Dodd Frank. New agencies were created to do what the SEC was supposed to do. My point is that when taxes are raised to take care of a certain problem, the money is never used by our elite government to take care of the problem. The problem is never fixed and we just add what money we need on to the debt and borrow another trillion dollars. I would agree with you about the taxes if only our congress would use it wisely. They never do and don’t deserve any more tax money from anyone until they get their act together. As for your fairness act, how is it really fair when a tv or radio network only has to let an opposing viewpoint broadcast. They do not have to give equal time to the opposing viewpoint, only broadcast that view. A network like NBC, which is extremely liberal can devote 23 hours and 55 minutes to liberal groups and only 5 minutes to conservative groups. They broadcast the conservative viewpoint so they followed the law. How could you ever say that the fairness act is fair to everyone?

  • carol

    You have something here. We would be spending a lot of time on the voting, but what we have definitely isn’t working. And the supreme court ruling favoring corporations has just made everything worse.

  • Carol

    The system makes it virtually impossible for anyone other than those with much disposable income to run for office. Think of all the capital “wasted” in actually funding our elections time after time.

  • Ed

    Your bias is so obvious. You praise Bush and blame Democrats Frank and Dodd. Also, Bernanke was first appointed by Bush in 2006. Before that he was chairman of Bush’s council of economic advisers. You obviously have a good ear for Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, since you parrot them very well.

    The problems started because GOP Sen. Phil Gramm and GOP Rep. Leach pushed through congress in 1999 the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act originally passed in 1933 to separate consumer banking from commercial and brokerage banking. That was the start of the game-playing by too-big-to-fail financial institutions like Lehman and Bank of America which took over Merrill-Lynch.

    The repeal of Glass-Steagall caused the downturn which served us well since 1933.

    It’s a Republican problem which was allowed by the Democrats because of their lack of backbone.

    It’s sad that many people have some strong opinions, but lack the knowledge and information to back them up.

  • Anonymous

    I am not biased. I don’t like either party. As for the facts I stated them. As for Glass-Steagall, which president signed that into law? I think it was Clinton, was it not. I don’t like what the republicans did with Glass-Steagall either, but your hero Clinton did sign it. If he thought it was so terrible why did he sign it? As for your other hero Obama, he made a lot of dough suing the banks into making the very loans to those that could not afford them. I do believe that those two things went along way in crashing the economy. Both democrats! I admit that the republicans have had a hand in destroying our economy. I have no love loss for any of these jerks in congress. Your democrats had just as much to do with our downfall as the republicans. Nether party has any honor at all. As for the facts, check out how Bush did question Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. You talk about me not having the info to back it up. C

  • moderator

    Please read our comment policy before posting. Personal attacks will be deleted and you will no longer be able to participate in our community.

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  • moderator

    Ed and 5465vick

    You have both made yor points clearly. Please avoid any personal attacks

    Thanks
    Sean @ Moyers

  • moderator

    5465vick and Ed

    You have both made your points clearly. Please avoid personal attacks.

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  • Anonymous

    I made no personal attack! This person just seems to be a know it all without checking facts!

  • moderator

    You have made your points clearly and concisely it is time to move on.

    Sean @ Moyers

  • Anonymous

    I have no problem moving on. However I have seen many personal nattacks much worse than what I said on here. Mr. know it all is tame compared to what I’ve seen before. Are you the one policing this sight? If so you need to watch for some of the other people calling each other nasty names. It has happened several times since I’ve been on here! If you feel the need to delete me for Mr. know it all that’s fine with me!

  • Ed

    If you go back to my message, you’ll see that I was very critical of the Democrats.

    Also, if you go back to my message, you’ll see that I stated that Glass-Steagall was signed in 1933 (by FDR)–not Clinton, as you state. So I regret that I must repeat that you speak without the correct information.

    Nothing personal. I’d be glad to discuss politics with you after you do some research.

  • Ed

    Sorry. I replied again before I noticed your message. I’ll moderate my tone.

  • Anonymous

    This is how they win, the same way the Nazi’s did…by destroying schools and businesses and dividing the masses so they’re broken into small enough pieces that they can be destroyed individually. And from that they take power:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=V-pxUIBO5EU#t=43

    If people would stop squabbling about their differences and just put the people in power in their place, we’d be able to accomplish something, but they want to keep us arguing.

  • Dave Weaver

    I agree – in part…

    candidates must have sufficient disposable income to forgo income during the election process… Once in, they “seem” to have no problem earning money via their investments. Did you ever wonder how that happens?

  • Anonymous

    Better yet – why don’t YOU tell ME how you think money works & what it’s history is. I’ve been an avid student of the subject for some 8 years now.

  • Daniel Miller

    I like to compare them to predators that have been brought to a new environment like snakehead fish or Japanese tree beetles. Without a predator to keep them in check they ruin entire ecosystems. Unlike the wolves reintroduced into Yellowstone, which brought the ecosystem back into balance, they will continue to destroy until systematic changes are made. Greed will no doubt be the fall of our democracy, and I can’t help but think how horrible it is that we get to sit on the sidelines and watch as our elected officials were compliant with these decisions.

  • Anonymous

    I think he meant the repeal of Glass-Steagall was signed by Clinton, which is true. The thing Americans need to wake up to is that the government loves us bickering about Republican vs. Democrat. That keeps the system going as it is. Until we realize in large numbers that NONE of them work for our best interests, nothing will change and, actually, will continue to get worse as they both protect corporate and banking interests and continue to undermine everyone else.

  • Anonymous

    Sadly, I agree with everything you say. It really looks hopeless. Can
    this be turned around when there’s indisputable gerrymandering, voter
    suppression, the demise of unions, SCOTUS ruling for the wealthy
    corporations and making it more difficult to fight voter suppression:

    There seems to be no inclination in Congress to try to stop gerrymandering.

    A
    legislator from Pennsylvania declared that the passing of Voter Id
    would assure a Romney victory in his state in PA. Legislators from other
    states have–implicitly or explicitly–said the same thing.

    Unions
    were the only force able to modestly fund campaigns against the extreme
    right wing, and they have shrunk in number to a level of impotence.

    SCOTUS
    has lifted all limits on corporate or individual funding of political
    campaigns, and they have severely weakened the Voters’ Rights Act. And
    don’t forget that corporations are people.

    Rachel
    Maddow stated a few days ago that things seem to be turning around. She
    quoted a few positive examples, but I’m not as optimistic as she is. We
    will have a better idea after the 2014 elections, but I fear that the
    only thing that can turn things around is if the unemployment rate for
    whites hits about 30 pct. (And, yes, I am white.)

  • rwyckoff

    So, tell us something we don’t already know….

  • Dana

    It is a pretty fair bet that someone with billions and billions of dollars to their name did not earn all that money by the sweat of their brow. They got it by gaming the system. Up to a point, it can be helpful to learn how to leverage your assets to bring you more income; if we had to work for every dollar we ever earned, we’d be in poverty the moment we became disabled. (I’m watching this principle in action with a dear friend of mine, in fact. He’s worked all his life, and now he’s poor.)

    BUT. You only need just so much income to get along well in the world. Anything above that is superfluous. And if most of your very high income is from dividends or interest, chances are very good that not only didn’t you work for it, but the profits from which you gained that income were probably produced by shorting other people on their wages, cutting corners in production, destroying the environment, etc., since that’s where the big profits lie in our society.

    Even someone like Warren Buffet does not have totally clean hands where this is concerned. So at a certain point we have to ask ourselves why it’s OK for them to shortchange so many people and sacrifice so many people’s health and destroy so much of the natural world without giving enough back to society.

    So if you didn’t earn it by the sweat of your brow then I say it’s fair game. At MINIMUM all income needs to be taxed at the same rates. That alone would increase tax revenue significantly.

  • Dana

    Bush spent us out of a budgetary surplus right back into the hole. Don’t EVEN defend that war criminal here.

    We have a debt we need to pay off. We can’t get there by turning the poor out into the gutter to die. They don’t take up enough of the budget to be able to pay off all the debt with what we spend on them.

    We also have crumbling infrastructure that desperately needs to be updated. In case you haven’t noticed, there have been some bridge collapses in recent years, and then there was that little town down in Louisiana that was pretty much wiped out in 2005 which could have been saved with an updated levee or three. We don’t dare trust any of this to the private sector–profit is traditionally obtained by watering down quality and cutting corners, and they will totally do that, even if it means loss of life.

    So. Pay up.

  • Dana

    The thing is, when we tried voting for someone else, we got blamed for Bush getting into the White House, even though that “someone else” got less than 5 percent of the vote and the election was ultimately decided by the Supreme Court.

    I’m glad people are finally coming around to the argument “someone else” made that Dems and GOP are basically Tweedledee and Tweedledum, but it would have been nice if they’d figured that out in 1999 instead of now.

    So are we ready for another party? I know I sure am. :)

  • Dana

    We don’t even need an estate tax with teeth. We have a huge hole in the tax system that needs closing first–the fact that we consider interest and dividend income a different class than wage income.

    What is the capital gains tax, anyway–fifteen percent, flat? What if we bracketed it and taxed it exactly the same as wage income?

    I’m all for that.

  • Dana

    Not really. Our government figured out they can ignore most blowhards with the occasional attention paid to a really outstanding one as an example to the rest. It takes them less resources and money to pretend the blowhards don’t exist.

    Kinda like they never needed to install telescreens in every home as in George Orwell’s dystopia. They just needed to encourage the population to watch crap on TV. Standardizing minds with a fraction of the effort and cost, no extra troops necessary. And who in the government wants to watch citizens picking their noses in the living room anyway?

  • Dana

    There’s no such thing as non-fiat currency. Even gold and silver vary widely in “worth” from day to day, and if it came down to a crisis, you can’t eat them.

  • Dana

    We don’t choose the candidates, though. If we at least chose them it would be one thing. But it’s always the elites. Even the delegates at party conventions were elected or appointed by someone who isn’t the average voter.

  • Tom Hunter

    It seems like it’s time to get the pitch forks out!

  • VJ Hamilton

    I recognized this behavioral pattern in my County Supervisor’s insensitivity to my neighborhood being controlled by gangs. After being traumatized by being in the crossfire of three murders and having my life threatened by the gang members because I refused to allow them to block my driveway and bully my neighbors about their driveway, I started an email harangue campaign to get the Supervisor’s attention and, hopefully, get some action taken to stop the harassment we were forced to live with daily. I started by accusing him of being a supporter, else how could the gang’s continued existence in the midst of law-abiding families be explained? I had to write about 20 emails, ending with notification that the mother of the gangsters was threatening to “act like the Boston bomber around here,” before any noticeable change in their behavior was observed. Now, two are in jail, another is under warrant for arrest, and the house is much quieter, the neighbors suddenly freed from threat.
    The email tactic I consider a weapon of the weak. I had no hope of getting the Supervisor’s attention in any other way. I have no money, but I do vote, and I told him so. I also pay taxes, am a homeowner, and received a fairly decent education and know how to write. So, I took the only option open to me to lodge my protest. I’d simply had enough of being traumatized, unable to sleep, and afraid to step into my own front yard.
    Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is one of those narcissistic folks your article describes. He doesn’t care a whit for folks without money and he is supported by one of the weakest of middle-class groups, the Black middle-class, which is shrinking precipitously, and never really had any power when compared to its Anglo counterpart.
    No matter if we, the poor, unemployed, underemployed, low-class, no-class folks don’t have money, we have to fight with whatever comes to hand. That’s an attitude I’ve cultivated watching and listening to Bill Moyers.

  • Anonymous

    I guess you are now a class warrior.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent coverage, as always. Serious as it is, I am just enjoying that hilarious photo and caption. Kudos to the photo editor.

    Don’t let this topic fade from view. This is good follow-up to the October 2012 coverage of this issue with Matt Taibbi and Christina Freeland, and her New Yorker piece on the ridiculous Leon Cooperman letter.

  • Anonymous

    As a bike commuter, I have plenty of anecdotal evidence to support that study on luxury vehicles! Also, beware of large conveyances with pro-gun bumper stickers. And minivans.

  • Shirley0401

    I think many people do this because the expectations are honestly lower for morality in business than in sports.
    The expectation is that those in the business of making a profit will do whatever will maximize their ability to make the maximum profit. It’s been that way for awhile. (Think of the stereotype of the used car salesman.) What’s strange, to me, is that there used to be a significant segment of the population (or at least artists/thinkers) who were unapologetically critical of this mindset, and scornful of those who adhered to it. Now, however, it seems like it’s only those on the “fringe” (Chomsky, etc) who hold this view.
    As far as I can tell, it has got to have something to do with the financialization (if that’s a word — I mean it as opposed to monitization, here) of business. Maybe I’m naive, but I feel as though, 30 years ago, most people had the idea that it was fine and honorable to make a product, or provide a service, and be paid according to the value/scarcity of same. And in film/TV, bankers were usually bad guys. Greedy, not contributing anything of real value, and just bleeding those who actually made or provided something worthwhile.
    Now, however, the expectation isn’t that you find the pot of gold you’ll make a great new product, or figure out a better way of doing something. It’s when you figure out how to get people to invest, regardless of the actual value of what you’re making/doing.

    End rant. But: yeah.

  • Shirley0401

    Would you agree that what’s described above is, at least in part, a natural danger inherent in adhering to a capitalist model?

  • Shirley0401

    Not everyone. There are a lot of good people out there, people who I suspect, if they were to somehow end up in office, would vote against their own interests if it was the best/moral thing to do. I’m not historian, but unless I’m mistaken, we’ve had politicians who, though personally wealthy, agreed that the wealthy should shoulder a proportionately larger portion of the burden for public services. Because it was in the best interests of (get this) the country as a whole.*
    But it seems as though this is true of nearly everyone who has the means, desire, and characteristics necessary to run for, and win, national office.
    In theory, they take oaths to vote for the interests of their constituents, don’t they? One might hope some of them would actually attempt to live up to this responsibility.
    *Of course, you could argue that they did so because what was best for the country as a whole would ultimately be what was best for them, as a thriving economy is in the owner/rentier class’ best interests, too. Which would make them less better, albeit more far-sighted than the current crop.

  • Anonymous

    Research shows equal societies work better in all aspects. The USA is the most inequal on the scale. But in reality it is not 9.5 times as much the rich earn then the poor but a CEO earns 350 times as much then a poor worker. So we have nothing to expect from the elite if we want our world to be different. That is that. Back to it starts on microlevel then will influence the macrolevel. From microcosmos to macrocosmos. But then politicians were never intended to dominate and control the people. They were supposed to represent us and protect our interests. My personal microcosmos is still a bit off, am doing my best battling lifelong complex ptsd. But i am so glad i am not one of these psycho/sociopaths gambling in weatherderivatives or any other derivatives or about to start the third world war. Even if it would mean death, death would be preferable then to be one of the guys. But then i am a woman, long overdate.

  • Shirley0401

    Not sure how many politicians care about what kind of living the “rest of us” earn, but if there are any, Rand Paul doesn’t strike me as a likely candidate for being one of them.
    As I recall from interviews surrounding the budget he put forth a few years back, his big ideas amounted to his own secret recipe of “every man for himself,” with some catchphrase keywords like “job creators” and “business-friendly” thrown in.
    What will he do that you expect will make it easier for you, personally, to earn a decent living? Just curious.

  • Byard Pidgeon

    It’s repeal of Glass-Steagall that Clinton signed…I know, picky picky, but getting it right eliminates some confusion.

  • Svenska

    Just look at Hollywood.

  • Anonymous

    “From 2007 through 2010, U.S. senators were somewhat responsive to the interests of the middle class, but hadn’t been for the first 6 years Hayes studied. The views of the poor didn’t factor into legislators’ voting tendencies at all.”

    The results of the studies sound right on the money, but how was responsiveness determined, I wonder? And how would the senators know what a given constituent’s income level was?

  • Anonymous

    Couldn’t agree more.

  • Anonymous

    I like it, I just don’t think it’s sustainable.

  • DavidW

    A way to dilute the concentration is to use cooperative enterprise to take market share away from these corporate overlords. Think about a credit union sector double it’s size and how much influence it can have, when the banks have to adjust. Or if Food Co-ops could take just 10% of the national grocery market and how all markets would respond. More wealth would be kept locally and not add to the power of the current “crop” of these overly, self-entitled jerks.

  • Lisa M. Alter

    People have stopped having babies. Might be a problem with that down the road but why actually think things through?

  • judi

    What is that supposed to mean?

  • Kenneth C. Fingeret

    Hello VoxFox,

    It’s hard to get them convicted when they make the laws and judge those that come before them in the “injustice system”!

  • Kenneth C. Fingeret

    Hello Christine,

    The Democratic party has been corrupted by the Rethug/TeaTards party. There is only a few in kongress that form the democratic wing of the Democratic party. A new party must be formed with the ideals and ability to bring back Liberté, égalité, fraternité *liberty, equality, fraternity). If that doesn’t happen then we have a “Hobson’s Choice”. We get Tweedledee or Tweedledum. Either one is about as useful as an appendix. Since this won’t happen anywhere in the next decade or two I say that the US of A is doomed to become the next collapsed/destroyed “Roman Empire”.

  • Kenneth C. Fingeret

    Hello marxmarv,

    If I understand you a situation in the past was in April 14, 1912 on the Atlantic Ocean. The RMS Titanic (the unsinkable ship) had hit an iceberg and was sinking. The breakdown of those that survived and those that did not can be seen here. http://www.anesi.com/titanic.htm

  • Kenneth C. Fingeret

    Hello dinsf,

    You were listening to a group of sociopaths and psychopaths. Could you expect anything else coming out of their pieholes!

  • Kenneth C. Fingeret

    Hello Lenore Oconnell,

    There is a doctrine called “fair usage” which “might” cover you use of the article. The best thing is to ask for permission from the author/publisher. A few time you did not capitalize the letter I (I know that I do not always proofread as carefully as I should and sometimes what I am trying to say gets muddied). Your comment is easily understood.

  • Kenneth C. Fingeret

    Hello Russell Scott Day,

    What about the “Slik Road”. lol

  • Kenneth C. Fingeret

    Hello Jennifer Hj,

    A very lofty ideal but the system is so corrupt that unless this system is destroyed and something better takes its place the only way we are going is downward into chaos!

  • Mark Schurdevin

    we are all class warriors, some just haven’t been aware

  • Anonymous

    That repeal was also pushed by Clinton, who also gave us NAFTA. Both parties are to blame here, and if the progressives in this country were anything but a sad reflection of their former selves, they would admit that and attempt to change the Democratic party. So far all I’ve heard are some poor excuses.

  • William Millsaps

    Nothing new here…really could you not tell all of this from daily life?

  • William Millsaps

    By the size of their donations…plus a US senator if so inclined can learn what color your bed clothes are…

  • Anonymous

    I regret that my comment was interpreted as pro-Democratic. I admit, however, that it was anti-Republican. When one says both parties are to blame, I can’t argue that point. But what I do argue is that both parties do not share the blame equally. The Republicans have repeatedly blocked Democratic proposals simply to avoid giving Democrats credit and ensuring their re-election.
    The fault of the Democrats, chiefly Obama, is their lack of backbone in standing up to the GOP. Obama has repeatedly started from a compromise position and, if finally reaching an agreement, moving to the right, instead of the center, which would be a true compromise.
    What we need is a third party, but the two major parties have made that prospect almost impossible.
    A major problem is that both parties depend on Wall Street for campaign funding.

  • Anonymous

    It’s not just the very wealthy. Those in very high positions of authority with little consequence for failure are the same. I cannot even BEGIN to tell you the striking incompetencies of university administrators where I was tenured and taught for almost two decades. I resigned as it just kept getting worse and worse. Politicians and university administrators see themselves as the same thing. Sadly, these days in public universities, they ARE the same thing. And the lying and cheating goes on unabated.

  • Anonymous

    This is just another hate piece directed at wealthy people You can be sure they do not want you to picture Hollywood types or rich Democrats though. I often see people driving luxury cars in lower income neighborhoods and they drive exactly like this. And I regularly see people who do not look rich at all, park their Lexus or Caddy in a handicap spot or even in a fire lane and walk into a store. It is usually a black person. Doubtful they are rich.

  • Anonymous

    WOW !!
    I guess you don’t see the irony in the fact that you call this a “hate piece” while your comment is filled with hate indicated by all the stereotypes you describe.

  • DarqueSideOfTheMoon

    It’s true! Amongst my wealthiest friends I’ve noted the most unethical behavior! Cheating, lying, engaging in patently unethical business practices – yet they complain loudly about others’ sense of ‘entitlement’. Go figure.

  • DavidW

    The power of the purse influences political power projection. We aren’t “removing” power, we would be “taking” power by taking market share and we do that by growing and expanding the Cooperative Enterprise model by using the capital tools these power brokers have always had access to. We do this by educating people about the history of why this model of business came about and how it works today. Will everyone be convinced? No; and that isn’t expected.

    It also isn’t congress that wants to restrict the Credit Union sector, it’s the banking lobby. One third of Americans are members of Credit Unions but most don’t know what’s going on, they thing that it’s a club that operates like a bank that they joined. We need to continually educate and market with every opportunity that comes by to convince people to support and invest in these cooperative enterprises.

    We the people, need to get on it. Because in the current system, people are too busy working two jobs, or too poor to spend time away from their jobs, or too poor and uneducated and unmotivated to do anything about this.

    We, in order to have political democracy, need economic democracy and the powers that be aren’t going to give that to anyone willy-milly, we have to rise to that by buying our own businesses and learn how to run them to meet our economic, cultural, social and political needs. Then we exercise that economic power through our cooperative businesses, which by the way will take market share and reduce the economic power that gives these jerks their marching orders.

    Don’t be poor and unmotivated. Learn more about this possibility by googling Co-op, Cooperative, Cooperative Enterprise, Rochdale Pioneers. Do it.

  • DavidW

    So, according to the right this would be an argument for small government to keep “jerks” at bay. From the left this would be an argument for less big business to reduce the size of the “jerks.”

    Let’s all look up Cooperative Enterprise and the Rochdale plan to figure out how to keep us from getting to that place where the “jerks” have all the economic power and therefore can call the shots.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with almost everything you say. Except when you say it isn’t Congress, it’s the banking lobby. This is true up to a point, but Congress passes the bills.

    The problem is the campaign funding structure which gives lobbyists–paid mainly by the corporations– the power to sometimes have exclusive access to federal legislators, even to actually writing the bills. A good part of the blame also goes to SCOTUS that allows corporations to virtually write blank checks.

  • DavidW

    Let us split hairs. Congress as I was using it in my comment in its purest form, is a tool of the people. The job of representatives there is to enact the “will” of the people. So congress shouldn’t have any free will of its own in a textbook sorta, boiled down to its essence kinda way.

    Congress responds to the lobbyists and “interprets” (I’m being generous here) that; as the will of the people. It’s the expectation of the people that is being thwarted when the thinking of most of us is that Congress has its own will and damn the rest of us.

    We are the authority granters as a whole and not as individuals and we must act together. In order to do so we must become as educated and as tied into the system as these lobbyists, or change the system.

    So in a pure sense it is the banking lobby, working the enact the will of the “jerks,” we should be countering and not Congress. Congress is a “tool” of the people as the banking lobby is a tool of the Monied and Powered Elites.

    So, ignore the free will of all the representatives, for now, when you interpret my comment.

    Did you know that there are now about 300 plus groups across the country trying to organize new food Co-op storefronts? It’s a small step to taking back our economic power as a people. Look up the Rochdale Pioneers to get a reference in history.

    Cooperative Enterprise can be a way to tamp down the damage caused by the plutocratic “jerks” in big business and big government. If the right agrees to start talking about big business the same way it talks about big government, I can’t see why the left won’t start talking the same way about big government it does about big business. If that’s something this polarized country can agree upon, why don’t we get together to work on that?

  • Anonymous

    Again I agree with most of what you say. But a big problem is that the Democratic party, thanks to the virtual demise of the unions, is also getting its funding from Wall Street through their lobbyists.

    You say, “I can’t see why the left won’t start talking the same way about big government it does about big business.” (sic)

    I’m all for that, but as I said elsewhere in these comments, with gerrymandering, SCOTUS decisions, diminution of funds from left of center, voter ID laws, right wing control of significant media, etc. the only thing (or mostly the only thing) that will change things is when 25 or 30 pct of white workers become unemployed (or greatly under-employed, which has been happening too extensively). By the way, to avoid misunderstanding or accusations, I am white.

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments. But mostly I remember when you used the phrase “small step.
    Yes, it’s a step, but we need some big steps.

    Regards,
    Ed

  • DavidW

    I agree with you about your points and the change we need. I suppose that my proposals about cooperative enterprise are small, and my wish is for them to be big enough to have an economic impact. Enough so that the people who make up the body “politeek” are urged on to action by their own sense of righteousness and not some party line. They must be economically viable enough to participate, with free time to be educated and informed about issues to make their decisions on who and what to vote for. Rather than against.

    Shop Co-op!

    Oh and context my friend – “If the RIGHT AGREES to start talking about big business the same way it talks about big government, …I can’t see why the left won’t start talking the same way about big government it does about big business.”

  • Anonymous

    Again I find myself in agreement with MOST things you say.

    To be clear, I DID notice your conditional clause, “If the RIGHT AGREES…” However, I thought it irrelevant because I can’t see the right agreeing–except for the few moderates–about anything the Dems say, especially this administration. But, worse yet, is the lack of backbone in the Democratic party, which is probably caused by the fact that they need to go to Wall Street for campaign funding–more so in national elections.

    I definitely agree with you on the necessity of education, but education doesn’t just come; it must be sought after.
    And I’m afraid I’m very pessimistic on this point.

    I have friends and acquaintances who believe all the problems stem the amount of their tax money spent on Blacks and Mexicans–the “takers” as Romney and Ryan would call them

    Sadly, they’re educated people who get sick in their stomach over this. They don’t consider themselves takers when they’re on Soc. Sec. and Medicare, or unemployment compensation. I’ve been retired for 16 years and I’ve gotten back about 8 times the amount that I paid in, so I guess I’m a–gasp!–taker.

    But getting back to education, I’m sure you’ve seen or read the stories of interviews with college students who didn’t know who their senator or governor was but, at least in the case of men, they know most of the hitting average and pitching records of baseball players. Likewise, the statistics for the NFL.

    I know an IT director who has traveled–more than once–over 200 miles to hear Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity speak.

    So I stick to my point that there needs to be unusually high unemployment among whites before they’ll start educating themselves, mostly by simply paying attention to our political system. But, sadly, they know all the catch phrases of the mindless sitcoms and, when I don’t understand what they’re talking about, they think I live on Mars.

    I certainly respect your opinions, but please, please give me a solution other than Co-ops. I think they’re a good idea, but I’m sure you have others.

  • Laura Reynolds

    Story idea: Especially in light of the UCLA study by Patricia M. Greenfield (“The Changing Psychology of Culture From 1800 Through 2000″) on the inverse relationship between wealth and charity/community engagement, I began thinking about the extremely wealthy in our day vs. the “robber barons” of the late 1800s and early 1900s. They seemed to feel obliged to found universities and libraries, and create great architecture and support art for our nation. Why aren’t they doing any of that now? Or am I wrong?

    I can only think of the Gates Foundation and Zuckerberg’s support of a New Jersey school district as examples of substantial, visible charity by the extremely wealthy. Couldn’t they, for example, save the Detroit Institute of Arts? (Not to mention raising wages, of course.) Is the wealth at the top being used to improve our nation at all? Or is it merely being used to create more money? I’d love to see a quantitative analysis on this.

  • DavidW

    Well then, think of the possibility of a cooperatively owned news reporting property that is not supported by foundations with 501(c)3 charity money. A property that is neither a robber baron’s vanity project or a hedge fund’s collateral in a derivative and not a corporate center or profit and only profit.

    An opportunity for another voice to add to that of Bill Moyer’s and even Al Jazzera America to become part of the NPR and PBS landscape. To provide the possibility that yes Beck, Limbaugh, and Hannity have a voice as well when the social conservatives pick-up on the idea.

    No power brokers, no looking over the shoulder of reporters, maybe a decent firewall between advertising and what the people who own this paper or media property want.

    Co-ops cannot be the only solution, but they can be a model for others to follow. Forgive me if I gave the impression that cooperative enterprise can solve all our political and economic ills. They can be one of many options to get the people on the map of american attention and then we start the rallying and connecting. But it doesn’t have to be just food co-ops, bakeries and credit unions. It can me department stores, newspapers (or media properties), and housing complexes.

    With growth and expansion, we reduce our dependence upon the current suppliers and they lose market share and therefore some economic might.

    There will still be those with more money in their safes to hold us all hostage, but we won’t be as dependent upon their largess. There is less relevance to their political whims when we are able to take back more (not all) of the political system within one of our lifetimes.

  • Anonymous

    It all sounds good, but we need a third (and fourth?) party and 25 pct. white unemployment to make it happen.

    Best regards

  • Daniel Miller

    What is there to bite about. I was making a comparison between a natural phenomenon and our current societal issues. There was a point in time where you can say Rome collapsed. My suggestion can not possibly have come true yet. After all it is not like people are stealing the bricks from the Washington memorial to build shelter.

  • Daniel Miller

    Ecosystems always keep themselves balanced though. If too many wolves are around they thin the herd to the point of starvation. Only the strongest will survive those conditions. Same thing happens if there are too many elk. They eat all the vegetation and all vegetarians suffer. It works that way all the way up and down the food chain. Too much of anything and your species suffers. I have not sspecifically heard this was happening with the elk, but I did see after the wolves were reintroduced several hundred plants and animals began thriving again. Things are balanced again.

  • Anonymous

    You dare criticize our saintly founding fathers? You probably also criticize St. Ronald Reagan.

    After slavery, there was the FIGHT for civil rights: it took 100 years, and the FIGHTING goes on. The FIGHT for the black vote. Then the FIGHT for women’s suffrage. The FIGHT for union representation (many men were killed by the Pinkerton private police force). The FIGHT t for equal pay for women. The FIGHT for safe meat. The FIGHT for safe drugs. The FIGHT for safe water. The FIGHT for safe food. The FIGHT for a safe working place. The FIGHT for gay rights.

    And now we must start all over: the FIGHT for women’s rights, the FIGHT for the right to vote, etc., etc. etc. You all get the idea.

    And you all notice the pattern: FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT–a thousand times.

  • DavidW

    Well, until then I will keep working to do more with less.
    Best and warmest regards!

  • Anonymous

    A noble goal.

    I’m not sure it’s naive. After all the Republican party grabbed the upper hand by starting at the local level, moving inexorably to the states’ levels with great success at the national level. It took them decades, but it eventually worked.

    Civil rights is still not completely accomplished after 150 years. I once read that China, after 4000 years, changed their civil service exams!

    So maybe less is more.

    I’ve enjoyed our communications. Maybe we can keep it up. At least until we completely agree on everything, which might mean we can go on for quite a while.

    Also, best and warmest regards.

  • Shirley0401

    I just don’t see how “less government” will necessarily improve the average citizen’s life. What I’ve seen since the “less government” craze took off in the 80′s: increasing wealth inequality, decreasing social mobility, weakening of labor, more privatization. All of this, as far as I can tell, beats a path away from, not to, increased opportunity for regular folks. The government, at least theoretically, has to take the interests of all constituents into account, whereas business is focused only on making owners/shareholders wealthy. Which has its place, but isn’t sufficient for seeing that most people have a meaningful place in the world. If that makes sense?
    *
    You write: “It would go to people and businesses buying things which translates into more jobs for everyone.”
    If the only goal is for “things” to get “bought,” does it matter so much who (businesses v government) is doing the buying?
    *
    I’m not trying to be flippant, just trying to understand, as I’ve seen your arguments before and it just doesn’t add up for me (probably as mine don’t add up for you). And while I’m sure there will be some people who use the money they save by paying less in taxes to start a business, or otherwise improve themselves, it just doesn’t seem to work that way, on a large scale…

  • Shirley0401

    I know the Koch brothers are big arts patrons. I think the ultra-wealthy give, they just tend to give to “sexy” charities, such as arts centers, rather than the places the work gets done, such as outreach offices and work-training programs.

  • Anonymous

    Start screening for sociopaths since that’s what these guys are and–start cutting down on how much they can leave their heirs; don’t allow their heirs to take over their corporations–if there’s any way to do that.

    If they’re all not careful this country is going to go the way of China–only a lot bloodier since (1) the Chinese people have always been at heart a more peaceful people than white people and (2) we have a lot of hate groups, gangs, etc. and (3) we have SO MANY guns. This all makes for a very volatile situation. When people finally realize how badly they’re being screwed, they’re gonna hit the roof and something’s gonna hit the fan. (I don’t use bad words because when I’ve used those words sometimes my comments haven’t been allowed. On some websites even the words ‘crap’ and ‘screw’ have messed me up. Go figure! Someone’s Aunt Prude!

  • Anonymous

    Businessmen have always been liars and cheats. Chinese businessmen will go to a fortune teller to see if it’s okay to cheat someone they’ve become partners with.

  • Anonymous

    And when crimes happen under the administrations of these people you’re talking about, such as girls being raped by jocks, they cover it up or discredit the girl. They deserve to meet someone in a dark alley some night.

  • Anonymous

    As far as I can see only two ways. One is to vote out repugs and dems. Vote in third party candidates and see if they can do anything. Everyone knows what the other choice is.

  • moderator

    Thank you for your kind words and thanks for being part of our community!

    Sean @ Moyers

  • Anonymous

    Absent that vindictive, bloody uprising, recognizing capital gains as just like any other income would *partially* correct the perverse bias against wage income in the tax system. But inheritance is another source of unearned wealth (and of incumbent advantage) that deserves scrutiny and action, uprising or no. There are many other biases against wage labor throughout the neofeudalist system which could also be addressed, but starting at the top two and working down seems the right order.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with what you say, but I reiterate what I’ve said before in these comments:

    Nothing will happen until there’s a major population uprising which will force people to pay more attention to what’s going on. And the only way that will happen is when there’s a 25 to 30 pct WHITE unemployment rate. To avoid misunderstanding or name-calling, be advised that I am a white male ( as i stated more than once in these comments).

  • Anonymous

    As I mentioned to you before, your co-op idea is fine, but it needs extensive management and coordination to work in the short time that is necessary. We can’t wait 10 or 20 years.

  • Anonymous

    As I also said before in these comments, I agree with most of what Nader says, but he’s too caustic to be seen as anything but a radical. He’s the direct opposite of Obama, who thinks all he has to do is meet with his opponents and both sides will work everything out.

    Hopefully, there will come a leader who believes in a middle ground, who will not be as single-minded or doctrinaire as Nader. But will not be such a pushover as Obama. Even being in the middle ground, you need to be tough and willing to exercise power, e.g., Lyndon Johnson.

  • Anonymous

    In addition to their charitable giving and their support of “Nova” and other science-based programs on PBS, the Koch Brothers are well known as supporters of the GOP and antagonists to progressive programs that help the middle class. There are no “good” or “bad” rich people, only varying levels of self-aggrandizement, most of which expense is visited on the middle and lower classes.

  • Anonymous

    So let me get this straight. Rich people are antagonistic to programs that help the middle and lower classes. But this does not make them bad because their intentions are not to hurt but simply for self-aggrandizement. So they don’t realize the harm they do? If they’re that dumb, how did they get rich?

    Somewhere you lost me. Maybe if you give a better explanation.

  • DavidW

    What’s a pitch fork? Where does that fit into a fancy table setting? Do I need one at my next dinner party?

  • DavidW

    Do we need to reintroduce bears, wolves and cougars to the Hamptons?

  • Anonymous

    With all due respect, I see it as too long a process.

  • Dcubed

    As if the empathy-poor of the wealthy are immune to wanting things for less- or free. As if they aren’t contributing to or supporting their own businesses and stock holdings. As if they don’t ever send their expendables to pick up necessities.
    A lack of charity will contribute generously to your own financial wealth.

  • Dcubed

    Who has a “Titanic survival stats” post for this^ ?

  • Dcubed

    What- and create a shortage of fuel and consumers for war, abortion, GMO’s/pesticides, pharmaceuticals, nuclear waste and Wallyworld?
    Parasites need hosts for survival; if they kill us all, they die too. Let’s hope they feel entitled to their own survival.

  • DavidW

    It may possibly well be and we could all be doomed to toil in the feudal fields of the robber barons if I don’t get any help.

  • Anonymous

    Historically, the rich have used their tax deductions for things that make them look good.. feel good about themselves, or impress those in their class. The may set up a Museum, or fund an fund an orchestra, which in and of itself is a good thing, but it has nothing most probably to do with what one would think of as “charity”, it is a “usually padded” tax loophole for them, and makes them look good in the process. They would walk right by the beggar on the street, or maybe even call the cops on him. Their are some notable exceptions, but even some of them are because they have their own agenda. The Kock Brothers actions are never founded on anything but greed or power. PBS is about control of one more media Ditto NOVA

  • Anonymous

    Koch Brothers, and so many others…Only because of the tax loopholes. Sometimes the results are good, but at what cost to society. Usually steal from taxes and effect very few positively.

  • Anonymous

    Nader was the real example of what is discussed in the article, an opportunist who used other peoples plight and or findings to make himself look good. He was responsible for the demise of a couple early US attempts at small cars because they were ripe for exploitation “to make him look good” and had to cheat and lie to do it. Set back US auto small car attempts by 20 years. That is just one example of hundreds. Look up unsafe at any speed. One of the cases. Not sure it will tell you the background he took advantage of, and test a of a chevie at the Ford test track. No, sorry, Nader is not the , nor was he ever, the savior..but a more conniving, smarter version of the bad guys.

  • Anonymous

    My point was that like most of us, the Kochs do things that can be characterized as good and as bad. They’re imperfect like all of us. Money doesn’t in and of itself turn good people bad. The frame of mind that most often results in the accumulation of money is to blame. Bottom line, there are “good” and “bad” rich people, not because of what they have, but because of who they are.

  • Anonymous

    Are you saying that as long as the Koch Bros. love and provide for their family and give to charities or organizations, such as PBS (which probably keeps public broadcasting off their backs which has happened, by the way, plus it’s an easy tax write off), then they’re nice people.

    No, they need to stop defending oil companies concerning their spills and huge government subsidies, and use their money to find alternative energy sources. This doesn’t mean that they need to stop supporting oil right this second. They can put money into wind and solar power and whatever else may develop, and gradually decrease oil dependence, as the alternative fuel industry keeps growing.

    But they don’t do that. They fight everything that would cost them a dime’s worth of oil. Future generations be damned.

    Also, I haven’t heard of them giving to fight AIDS as does Bill Gates and other billionaires. Or feed the hungry, EVEN IN THIS COUNTRY. On the contrary, they fight any benefits for the so-called takers, of whom I am one because I collect Social Security and use Medicare.

  • Anonymous

    Whether we like it or not, “nice” people sometimes do not-nice things, and unfriendly, callous people sometimes do “good” things. Most people are not all good or all bad. Painting someone as a villain or hero makes him/her into a cartoon. Even Hitler and Stalin loved their children and music and flowers. Does that mean I like them? Of course not. Don’t be simplistic.

  • Anonymous

    So far, you haven’t explicitly said anything unfavorable about the Koch Bros. Doesn’t that make you simplistic?

  • Anonymous

    From my very first post: “…the Koch Brothers are well known as supporters of the GOP and antagonists to progressive programs that help the middle class.” How is that not unfavorable? I’ve compared them to Hitler and Stalin. How is that not unfavorable? You’re apparently looking for a black-and-white answer. There isn’t one. Now I’ve given you the same answer three times, each time in different words. Sorry, but that’s all you get.

  • Anonymous

    The “libertarian” movement is bankrolled by plutocrats. It’s a joke.

  • Anonymous

    Ron Paul is also profoundly racist, misogynist, and homophobic.

  • Anonymous

    Ugh, liberturds. Let’s destroy all of government! We can totally trust corporations and employers not to scr3w over ordinary people!

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    LOL no. Political parties are how the progressive agenda of the mid-20th century was achieved.

    Manarchists really need to become acquainted better with reality.

  • Anonymous

    Mmm mmm mmmm, delicious Kool-Aid!

  • Anonymous

    Actually, you did NOT compare them to Hitler and Stalin. You simply said, “Even Hitler and Stalin loved their children and music and flowers.” That is not a comparison.

    You may consider that nitpicking, but to me it’s very significant. I’m a very liberal person (in the political sense) but I still dislike the argument that I hear over and over when someone does an evil deed that “They’re only human like all of us,” or something to that effect.

    I apologize if I upset you but, even if you don’t think so, your words–except for your last comment– seem to defend the Koch brothers.

    I think there IS a black and white answer. Because Hitler loved flowers doesn’t make his actions “gray,” They were BLACK. Please reread your comments prior to your last one, and I think you’ll see that they have a different tone (from your last).

  • Anonymous

    One of the leading features of the founding fathers’ writing of the Constitution was the concept of checks and balances with the 3 branches of government.

    Unfortunately, the Republicans, led by the Tea party have turned that concept upside down. I don’t know what can be done about it. But, as I have said many times in these comments and other websites, the people who support the GOP will only realize this–maybe–when unemployment hist 25 or 30 pct. for white people. Full disclosure: I am white and retired.

  • Anonymous

    They tend to give to the charities that move in their circles, that do things that their friends will see their names on. They do things they see as being of benefit to themselves. Other people, well, not so much.

  • Anonymous

    Eddyiron – I agree. For some people, having a great deal of wealth can severely stunt their ability to be empathetic. I think the strongest indicator of the ability of great wealth to do this is whether the subject came from humble beginnings and built their own wealth, or if they were born into it and had it handed to them. I think the following comparisons between George Soros and the Koch Bros. does a good job of illustrating and supporting my supposition.

    When George Soros was fourteen, his family was forced to
    flee their native Hungary when the Nazis invaded. The family had already changed their name from Schwartz to Soros, but it still wasn’t safe to be there.

    Charles and David Koch were born into one of the wealthiest families in the Universe. When they were eighteen and twenty-three, respectively, their father— Fred Koch — co-founded the John Birch Society in order to purify America and protect her from such Communist filth as Dwight Eisenhower and Harry Truman.

    When George Soros was seventeen, he moved to London. He worked as a waiter and a porter to pay for his college education. At twenty-six, he moved to New York and became a financial analyst on Wall Street. He started his own investment
    fund when he was thirty.

    In 1967 the Koch Brothers inherited $300 million from their father. Some of their inheritance went toward creating a fake “environmental” organization — Citizens for the Environment — whose sole purpose was to convince everyone that
    acid rain was a myth. They’ve also donated $48 million to various “climate change is a myth” organizations. In 2004 they founded Americans For Prosperity and FreedomWorks which, as you know, begat the teabaggers.

    In 1979, George Soros set up scholarships for black students in South Africa. During the 1980s he donated hundreds of millions of dollars to help peaceful democracy movements in Eastern Europe. In 1992 he donated $50 million to help protect civilians who were caught up in the Bosnian war. In 1996 he donated another $50 million to fight poverty in Africa.

  • Anonymous

    Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Overturn Citizens United – get corruption (money) out of government.

  • Anonymous

    Some are busy taking over “public” institutions (land grant universities) and trying to make them private/into their own image(s).

  • Anonymous

    Well, we do need to cut “entitlements”. What people must understand is that the biggest takers are the rich, not some mythical poor woman having a baby every year to increase her welfare check. Walmart employees costs the taxpayers billions to subsidize their payroll. It is the corporation that is the welfare cheat, not the poor suckers working for poverty wages. Oil companies make billions every year, pay zero in taxes, get millions in tax rebates, drill on public land, take resources that belong to the people, then price gouge the public for gasoline and heating oil.

  • cgmcle

    Sociopaths.

  • JJ042804

    The Koch Brothers are Members of ALEC, which influences politics on their behalf. Cuts of unemployment, cuts to Social Security, the TPP, NAFTA, and the KXL, that’s what’s coming from them. It’s all about them making profits at “any” cost and if People die, that’s just collateral damage of doing business!

  • JJ042804

    I don’t think trying to influence our electoral process and our Policies to their favor is a good thing. I see it as what it is, criminal!

  • Anonymous

    Libertarian sociopaths.