Under Siege: How Government Centralization and Expansion Puts Democracy in the Service of Special Interests In its first full year of business in 1998, the 99 Cents Only store in the north Los Angeles city of Lancaster did over $5 million in sales. This was welcome news to the city, given the space had been vacant ever since the new “Power Center” shopping development, where 99 Cents was located, opened ten years earlier. Almost immediately, however, 99 Cents’ next door neighbor, Costco, told the city it needed to expand. This story typifies what drives all rent-seeking: Motive and opportunity. Motive and opportunity answers the problem of political corruption at the heart of Lawrence Lessig’s new book, Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress—and a Plan to Stop It. The distrust is justified according to Lessig by looking at the dramatic recent increase in campaign contributions. The motive for all this lobbying? A national economy governed by a single, centralized government, offers a rich variety of opportunities to access the levers of power. But the dog wags his own tail, too.
Occupy the Pentagon Dear Internet: It's No Longer OK to Not Know How Congress Works Dear Internet: It's No Longer OK to Not Know How Congress Works Dec 19, 2011 Clay Johnson This weekend I read a post titled "Dear Congress: It Is No Longer OK To Not Know How the Internet Works." The author, Joshua Kopstein, is right: it's not ok to not know about something before legislating or regulating it. And so a post is born, sympathetically climbing the charts at Reddit and HackerNews, telling Congress to get a clue. The fact is, Congress isn't the only group in this equation that needs to get a clue. What you have to understand is that Congress is saying that they don't understand the Internet isn't a failure of Congress. If Congress is complaining that they don't know about something that you care about, the right answer isn't to tell them to go get educated. But looking for a specific innovation to try and change the way Washington works by the time Congress votes on SOPA is about as foolish as Steve Jobs trying to diet his way out of having pancreatic cancer.
Inside the Corporate Plan to Occupy the Pentagon With time fast running out for the so-called deficit supercommittee, the mammoth amount of government money spent on the military has become a prime target in Washington. But the main focus isn't on big-ticket weapons projects or expensive wars—it's on retirement benefits for the roughly 17 percent of soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen who have served 20 years or more in uniform. Currently the total cost of their benefits is about $50 billion a year. Cuts to military pensions are "the kind of thing you have to consider," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in September. These ideas may sound like a bold new approach in an urgent moment—but in fact, the push for pension cuts and other corporate "reforms" at the Pentagon originates from an obscure advisory panel that has existed for a decade: the Defense Business Board. While the board's ideas have enjoyed support on Capitol Hill over the years, it has made only a modest impact on policy. It's a plan that even Rep.
Governing Through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear Occupy's Next Target: The Iowa Caucus Occupy Iowa Caucus On October 22, more than 100 Occupy Iowa activists gathered outside President Obama's campaign headquarters in Des Moines to protest his failure to stand up for the 99 percent. That same day, John Stauber, the founder of the corporate watchdog Center for Media and Democracy, suggested in a Truthout op-ed that the protest could be the start of something bigger. "In Iowa an Occupy Obama movement has real potential because it could choose to become a player in the Iowa caucuses in a way that is much more than symbolic," he wrote. A group of Occupy Iowa organizers has adopted that very idea and has expanded it to include both parties' caucuses on Tuesday, January 3. An active member of Occupy DC who recently returned to the Hawkeye State, Veysey explains that Occupy Iowa Caucus "does not disrupt the system but uses the system against itself, because the system itself is wrong. Could the plan work?
'Paid Detail Unit' Wall Streets' Cops Counterpunch has an excellent piece up on the New York City police and wall street's cozy relationship / revolving door. Especially regarding 'white shirts'. And, especially something called the "PDU" - the Paid Detail Unit. The corporations pay an average of $37 an hour (no medical, no pension benefit, no overtime pay) for a member of the NYPD, with gun, handcuffs and the ability to arrest. The officer is indemnified by the taxpayer, not the corporation. New York City gets a 10 percent administrative fee on top of the $37 per hour paid to the police. Read the whole thing here: It's an amazing piece. I have to admit, as jaded as I am, even I'm shocked at this. Here's something else: Paid Detail Unit Any outside offduty paid police work must receive prior approval of the Reserve Commander. Emphasis added.
Iowa governor taking threats to "occupy" Iowa caucuses "very seriously" - Political Hotsheet Terry Branstad, the Iowa Republican gubernatorial candidate, speaks to reporters a few weeks before receiving Sarah Palin's endorsement on June 3, 2010. The former governor won the GOP nomination on June 8 and seeks to defeat incumbent Democratic Governor Chet Culver on November 2. AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall Iowa Governor Terry Branstad says he is taking activists' threats to "occupy" the Iowa caucuses "very seriously" - and that state operatives will be working with the Homeland Security Department and law enforcement to "do all we can to protect people's right to participate in this system." "This has never happened before," Branstad said in a Monday press briefing, according to the Des Moines Register. "I think it would be tragic if some shadowy group that won't even announce who they are would be successful in preventing people from participating in this first real test in the presidential selection process," he added. "The Democratic party has failed us. © 2011 CBS Interactive Inc.