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The First Amendment Upside Down. Why We Must Occupy Democracy You’ve been seeing this across the country … Americans assaulted, clubbed, dragged, pepper-sprayed … Why? For exercising their right to free speech and assembly — protesting the increasing concentration of income, wealth, and political power at the top.
The revolving door
The defining political issue of 2012 won’t be the government’s size. It will be who government is for. Americans have never much liked government. After all, the nation was conceived in a revolution against government. But the surge of cynicism now engulfing America isn’t about government’s size. The cynicism comes from a growing perception that government isn’t working for average people.
The most little-understood fact of war, in my opinion, is the sheer, mind-boggling, nearly incomprehensible magnitude of the money which is spent on a daily basis to keep the occupation and boom-and-zoom operations going. Former General Barry McCaffrey put the "burn rate" of US taxpayer dollars in Afghanistan at $9 billion per month, which is fully one-half the average yearly state budget for the 50 states. Two months of this kind of spending is the entire Pell Grant appropriation for 2010. More than one-third of that "burn rate" (and you have to hand it to McCaffrey for not caring how this sounds to the public, literally burning taxpayer money) is fuel costs, both aviation and ground. Time reports that: ...international accounting firm Deloitte puts the cost of fuel for the additional troops at nearly $1,000 a day per soldier — more than $350,000 per year.
We live in a Capitalist country, right? We believe in the power of markets, don’t we? That’s what seperates us from the spectre of Communism that haunted us from the 1950s to end of the 1980s, isn’t it. And we understand the theory: a Capitalist country achieves the most efficient allocation of resources by facilitating trade & commerce by the practice of prices, and price only. No plans, no dictates, no sentiment.
San Francisco, California: The US State Department is once again undermining its own Internet Freedom Initiative - this time by giving the green light to a copyright bill that will adversely affect online free speech around the world. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was introduced in the House of Representatives two weeks ago, and while it does very little to stop piracy, it gives corporations unprecedented power to censor almost any site on the internet. And more vitally, it threatens the very sites and human rights activists that the State Department has previously pledged to protect. In a letter to Rep Howard Bernman, a co-sponsor of the bill, Secretary Hillary Clinton tacitly endorsed the proposed legislation, stating, "There is no contradiction between intellectual property rights protection and enforcement and ensuring freedom of expression on the internet". Prominent supporters of the bill are now distributing the letter as a sign the State Department is behind their bill.
Startling numbers of Americans are “underwater” -- homeowners and students alike -- and so, for that matter, is Congress, even if in quite a different way. In these last years, it’s been flooded with money. Millionaires, including at least 10 centimillionaires, now make up nearly half of our representatives there, and as a group, they have been growing ever richer as Americans grow ever poorer . Bad times?
Illustration: Bill Mayer THIS STORY IS NOT ABOUT THE origins of 2008's financial meltdown. You've probably read more than enough of those already. To make a long story short, it was a perfect storm. Reckless lending enabled a historic housing bubble ; an overseas savings glut and an unprecedented Fed policy of easy money enabled skyrocketing debt; excessive leverage made the global banking system so fragile that it couldn't withstand a tremor, let alone the Big One; the financial system squirreled away trainloads of risk via byzantine credit derivatives and other devices; and banks grew so towering and so interconnected that they became too big to be allowed to fail. With all that in place, it took only a small nudge to bring the entire house of cards crashing to the ground. But that's a story about finance and economics.
Photo Credit: john flanigan November 30, 2011 | Like this article?
A fascinating article has been written by Eliot Spitzer for The Slate which details the massive lying that went on during the GFC. It raises an intriguing question. What functions do lying and truthfulness play in financial systems? The assumption commonly made is that lying and deception are “bad” and truth telling is “good”. This is certainly true in a personal moral sense (with qualifications), but I do not think it readily translates into the corollary — that lying is a social “bad” and truth telling is a social “good”. Especially when it comes to dealing with finance.
Money in politics..
Calls to reform HMRC’s ‘big business’ board HMRC’s four non-executive directors have extensive links with big business. MPs slate HMRC and big business for ‘outrageous’ tax avoidance UK government told to ‘get a grip’ on tax avoidance or the public won’t pay up.
American society / economy / politics
The Investment theory of party competition (sometimes called the Investment theory of politics ) is a political theory developed by University of Massachusetts Boston professor Thomas Ferguson . [ 1 ] The theory focuses on how business elites, not voters, play the leading part in political systems. [ 2 ] :206 The theory offers an alternative to the conventional, voter-focused, political alignment theory and Median voter theorem which has been criticized by Ferguson, et al. [ 2 ] :20–38 [ 3 ] [ edit ] Overview The theory states that, since money driven political systems are expensive and burdensome to ordinary voters, policy is created by competing coalitions of investors, not voters. According to the theory, political parties (and the issues they campaign on) are created entirely for business interests, separated by the interests of numerous factors such as labor-intensive and capital-intensive , and free market and protectionist businesses.
Director of Research Projects Institute for New Economic Thinking Thomas Ferguson is INET’s Director of Research Projects and a member of its Advisory Board. He is also Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute.