Skip to content

The New Moderate Witnesses the 99% Declaration (Part 2 of 2)

July 12, 2012


Philadelphia, July 4, 2012. I found a prime parking spot near the National Constitution Center, grabbed a bottle of cold water from a street vendor and hurried toward the meeting place. According to my trusty cell phone, it was exactly 3 p.m. and 97 degrees Fahrenheit.

I arrived at grassy, shade-deprived Independence Mall just in time to watch the 99% Declaration delegation parading toward the designated patch of turf for the reading of the grievances. If their numbers were slim, the audience waiting for them was even slimmer.

Yes, the heat and the July sun were brutal and unrelenting, but you’d have expected a more abundant gathering of Philadelphians to greet the group that promised to reboot American democracy. Instead, we were looking at a dozen or so diehard patriots and roughly the same number of National Park employees clustering in the few shadows produced by the miniature trees and taller shrubs at the edge of the mall. This couldn’t have been an auspicious sign.

The 99 Percenters began to stream onto the mall. Some of them meandered toward Independence Hall while others stood their ground on the official meeting spot at the corner of Fifth and Market Streets — prime Philadelphia real estate for a revolutionary gathering. One of the leaders urged a few colleagues to round up the meanderers and herd them back to the fold. This operation took several minutes while the organizers organized themselves and set up a podium.

I scanned the gathering and made a few rough estimates. The delegates appeared to number about forty. (There had been approximately forty more at Continental Congress 2.0, but some had walked out over ideological differences and others simply skipped the festivities.) About two-thirds were men. The group spanned the age spectrum from about 20 to 70-plus, visibly weighted at both ends… lots of grad students and retirees, I presumed. Predominantly but not entirely white. Informal and a little shaggy but also alert and well-behaved.

Some of the 99 Percenters carried anti-corporate placards, chanted about the “banksters” or wore t-shirts with messages like “Practice Truth, Fear Nothing.” I noticed a spirited middle-aged woman with luxuriant hippie hair who had run for Congress… an extraverted young man in a wheelchair… a charismatic African American student with waist-long dreadlocks. And apparently a few representatives of the rival Occupy Wall Street crowd had tagged along to hear the message. (One of them insisted that 9/11 was an inside job and that the FBI had declared war on all of us.)

A young reporter from the Philadelphia Daily News (Philly’s tabloid equivalent of the more famous New York Daily News) interviewed one of the delegates. She appeared to be the only member of the press in attendance, unless you count The New Moderate… no TV cameras, no sense that the whole world was watching.

It was time for the reading of the Grievances. Bullhorn in hand, the first speaker conducted a “mic check” that sounded like a church responsorial. The delegates repeated each phrase verbatim, in eerie unison, sounding more like programmed androids than free-thinking radical patriots. I grew a little uneasy. But it was only a mic check, after all — to ensure that the speaker could be heard over the bustle of Market Street.

Now the assembled delegates took turns reading the final draft of their Petition for a Redress of Grievances. Brimming with righteous enthusiasm, they managed to rouse the overheated listeners (including this one) with their soaring, patriotic and appropriately accusatory message. In fact, the petition struck me as noteworthy enough to reproduce here in its entirety, and I urge you to read it from start to finish:

Continental Congress 2.0
Petition for a Redress of Grievances

A New Declaration

The people have the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
BE IT RESOLVED THAT WE, THE PEOPLE of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in order to form a more perfect Union, by, for and of the People, have convened a NEW CONTINENTAL CONGRESS this week of July 4, 2012 in the City of Philadelphia. We, the people, have deliberated, drafted and ratified a PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES to be served upon the United States Congress, Supreme Court, and President, prior to November 6, 2012.
Our country is beset by problems too large to fit comfortably under rubrics like liberal, independent, or conservative.

No single label fits, and no single ideology suits, but what we all have in common is that we are all (left, right, and center) being marginalized and defeated by the moneyed interests of the 1% as we struggle for life, liberty, happiness, comfort, and health. The 1% have enjoyed inordinate power and influence over our lives as they spread propaganda through the corporate media, and extract our nation’s wealth, only to deposit it out of the country. All the while, the 1% are delighted by our inability to recognize and address our common plight in any meaningful way.


We are the truckers, the teachers, the first-responders, the engineers, the self-employed and unemployed, the off-grid and organic farmers as well as the cutting-edge, fully-wired, 4G digital entrepreneurs. We are the butchers, the bakers, the builders and the makers. We are the foundation of our country!

We gather in Philadelphia for a cause larger than ourselves. If we are to succeed in taking back our country we must put aside the petty partisan differences that might divide us. We must recognize that many of those differences have been created and demonstrated by the 1% in their efforts to maintain control and profits at our expense.

We will not agree on everything and that is to be expected. We only need to agree on ONE THING:

American Government cannot continue to be sold to the highest bidder.

Another group of Americans joined together in Philadelphia over the days leading up to what we now proudly call Independence Day. Those Georgia planters, New York bankers, Massachusetts lawyers and Virginia scholars had radical differences and little in common when they began, but they finished by signing a Declaration that gave birth to our great nation and changed the world. We, too, can change the world by renewing their vision and our democracy.

We petition the government for redress of the following grievances:

Our government has allowed organizations to have undue influence and control over policy decisions affecting the people. The rights of organizations, including corporations, nation states, labor unions, and other collected bodies, are not the same as living human beings. No single organization shall have more influence over our government than that of an individual citizen. Corporations are not people.

Our government has allowed freedom of speech to be corrupted by the influence of money. Money is property, not speech.

Our electoral system has been unjustly weighted in favor of two major political parties. This, in combination with enormous campaign expenditures has subverted our democracy and discouraged citizens from participating in the electoral process.

Our current political system allows for the legal bribery of our government officials. They have been part of a “revolving door” with the private lobbying sector and have engaged in insider trading with the very companies they are charged with regulating.

Mainstream media, with no regard for the public they are meant to serve, have misled and misinformed the people, suppressing informed debate and crippling democracy in their single-minded pursuit of profit.

Our privately-controlled and exploitative monetary system, unjust trade policies, and regressive tax system, which greatly favor the 1%, are increasing inequality and eroding the American dream.

Our Congress has aided and abetted a massive fraud by predatory lenders, bankers, speculators, and financiers which has deprived millions of Americans of their homes, property, and livelihoods.

Our government has not recognized our right to clean air, clean water, untainted soil, and safe food. It has failed or refused to enact and enforce laws preventing the destruction of our natural ecosystem, willfully ignoring empirical evidence of significant harm caused by human interaction with the environment.

Our government has failed to protect essential civil liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. American citizens should not be indefinitely detained without due process of law. Their rights to privacy and freedom of speech on the internet should be ensured, and the choices of romantic partners must not be restricted by the government.

Our country imprisons more people per capita than any other country in the world to feed the profits of the growing private prison-industrial complex. Many people are imprisoned for non-violent drug crimes causing harm only to themselves while white collar criminals, who have defrauded the American people, walk free.

Our Congress has abdicated its responsibility for the declaration of war, allowing the United States military to engage in unconstitutional military actions and occupations abroad. There is an unacceptable lack of transparency in negotiations between the military and multi-national industrial contractors who profit from perpetual war.

After Congress has allowed or required our men and women to be sent into military action, it is has failed to uphold its promises of benefits and medical care to those who have served unless they have been physically injured. This is not right.

Our government has failed to prevent healthcare, insurance, and pharmaceutical companies from profiteering off of the illnesses and injuries of the American people. The for-profit healthcare system is immoral and economically unsustainable.

The current state of our education system is abysmal and under-funded. Without a well-educated populace, a democracy cannot adequately provide for its own common defense or promote the general welfare.

Our government has been derelict in its duty to substantially and equitably invest in the productivity of its people by supporting job training initiatives that will create more domestic employment opportunities and enable our workforce to transition to an independent renewable energy economy.

Our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico and the United States territories’ have been disenfranchised as voters. This is incompatible with American representative democracy. We recognize the right of Puerto Rico to become a state of the Union.

Citizens of the District of Columbia have been unjustly deprived of their right to determine their own governance. They have been denied congressional voting rights and control over their own local affairs. We recognize the right of the District of Columbia to self-determinative government.

We will be delivering the forgoing (sic) list of grievances, along with suggestions for their redress, to all branches of the federal government in the coming weeks. The American people expect a timely response. If our grievances are insufficiently addressed, we will take legal action in federal court seeking injunctive relief.

The sovereignty of the United States derives from WE, THE PEOPLE.

We will be heard.

And…in time — pushing through obstacles, overcoming set-backs, and basking in hard-won victories — we WILL restore our democracy.

There you have it: the first focused, trans-partisan attempt by the people of the United States to combat the spreading tentacles of the established interests and restore something like genuine representative democracy to our shores. Angry, yes… but admirably rational as well as impassioned. No camping in the plazas or blocking traffic for these 99 Percenters. They meant business, and they delivered.

These were no raving collegiate Marxists or ill-tempered Tea Partiers — just a small but valiant group of concerned Americans who span the political spectrum from left to right… who challenge the unsavory power of unions and corporations alike… who demand genuine representative government… who articulated their grievances in fiery prose and seek redress as outlined in the First Amendment.

They came to Philadelphia with a purpose: to sound a clarion call for justice — for a purified, responsive and ethical system that would honor the founders of our republic and those of us who inhabit it today.

And virtually nobody turned out to hear them. Not the corporate media whose motives they question… not the legions of poor and middle-class Americans with their outsourced jobs and dwindling prospects. Blame it on the summer heat… blame it on poor publicity, dismissive media or general apathy. But I have to tell you that this ragtag assembly on Independence Mall, here in Philadelphia on the Fourth of July, was something noble and potentially historic.

I can also tell you that I’ll be awaiting the government’s response to these grievances with immoderate interest. I hope you will, too.

127 Comments leave one →
  1. nonviolentconflict permalink
    July 12, 2012 1:25 pm

    Reblogged this on NonviolentConflict.

  2. lovetheocean permalink
    July 12, 2012 1:41 pm

    Yes, there you have it…this event will not even be a footnote, because while these and like-minded people with lofty hopes and a lot of verbiage are undoubtedly sincere, they just don’t understand how to exercise power. They naively thought a sincere call to action would draw a goodly mass and accompanying media coverage. True political organization is a step-by-step effort, persistent, determined, continually strategic. Face it, two parties are entrenched in America, and the only hope of influencing policy is to get with one of them and work from within.

    • pearows permalink
      July 12, 2012 1:48 pm

      Face it, two parties are entrenched in America, and the only hope of influencing policy is to get with one of them and work from within. ~lovetheocean


    • asmith permalink
      July 14, 2012 1:27 am

      It is not because they do not know how to excercise power. It is because just like OWS they do not have it. Despite their pretense – like that of TNM itself to represent the 99% they may not even represent 1%.

      If you wish to emulate our founders, demand a return to real principles such as theirs.

      They – and Rick are still fixated on this money is not speech bull.
      Ignoring the myriads of things that are clearly less expressive than a political contribution, ignoring that CC 2.0 is making exactly the same literatist semantic argument that would make Scalia proud and that the left has claimed was ludicrous in other contexts,
      Whether money is speech is irrelevant.
      The first amendment not only protects WHAT we say, but our ability to say it.
      If you allow that government can not restrict what you can say but can deprive you of the means to say it – you do not have free speech.

      I am sure everyone here is tired of my arguments on this issue – but I am equally tired of these absurd claims.

      I have addressed everything. It is inescapable that the effort to regulate political expenditures – particularly INDEPENDENT political expenriture – those completely outside the ability of a candidate or party to control, and about as far as one can possibly get from creating a demand for a quid pro quo, is targeted are regulating the MESSAGE not the money.

      Even where the courts have allowed us to infringe on constitutional rights – like it or not the supreme court recognizes no right as absolute, the rule is that when infringing on a right is permitted, the means used must be the LEAST infringing.
      There is no real constitutional foundation for a claim that increased government power is absolutely necessary – while free speech most certainly is.

      Even if we can successfully reduce government corruption by restricting speech – an unbelievably fallacious claim, we can also reduce government corruption by reducing government power. Even AMAC has admitted as much. That is just not his preferred choice. But we do not get to chose to infringe on rights when non-infringing alternatives exist.

      If you wish to fight political corruption – fight real corruption.

      Speak out about the actual corruption, the pork the self serving regulations.

      Too many here think PPACA was a good thing – it was 2500 pages because that is how large it needed to be to dole out enough political rewards to pass.

  3. July 12, 2012 2:09 pm

    LTO: Yes, they desperately need a politically savvy leader (or at least a James Carville-type advisor) to organize their efforts. It’s a shame, because I genuinely thought that Continental Congress 2.0 was an inspired idea — and that their Petition for a Redress of Grievances turned out to be a pretty powerful document (despite the need for a good proofreader).

    Of course, if I knew the secret to getting noticed, The New Moderate would have been noticed by now — aside from the centrist blogosphere and my one close encounter with CNN.

    • July 14, 2012 1:43 am

      With due respect to Carville, you can not put lipstick on a pig.

      Most americans do not share my absolutist view of rights.

      It is even possible that a majority share your desire to regulate political speech by regulating money. i suspect a majority also prefer white toilet paper to yellow.

      CC 2.0, like OWS failed not because there was no James Carville at the helm. But because the message even if it might be shared by a majority does not resonate.

      I beleive that a significant portion of the american electorate is libertarian by the broadest definition. But I know that they are not a majority, and that once we actually get down to specific policies, there is nothing close to a majority supporting my views.

      The difference between Rick and I – is that on most issues I know I stand with few behind me.Rick keeps picking these fringe groups to champion pretending they are some “Mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” majoritarian moment and then lamenting that but for some tangential failure they would have caught on.

      Hmm, maybe the failure was lack of MONEY. Nobody contributed so they were not able to get their message out. Maybe money actually is important to speech.

      The Tea Party does not represent a majority of americans. Nor is it the tip of some libertarian renesaince. There are people in it that I personally despise.

      But unlike OWS, CC 2.0, and the myriads of other failed purportedly moderate movements Rick has champion, it is not a fringe movement, it is a serious political power, and a mostly positive disruptive influence on our politics.

      You do not need to believe in it or support it to grasp that it is consequential and the rest of these are meaningless.

  4. July 12, 2012 2:17 pm

    Another thought: The current two-party system is entrenched mainly because no viable alternative has come along. Many if not most Americans are disenchanted with both parties, and approval of our partisan Congress is in single digits.

    If anyone were to fly a trial balloon for a new third party, this would be the time. Unfortunately, the map of politically independent America looks like Germany before it united under Bismarck: dozens of petty provincial party organizations, blogs and activist groups headed by people with big egos… people who want to lead their own little rebellions on their own terms. If only we could persuade them to merge for the good of the country…

    • July 12, 2012 3:09 pm

      The two-party system is mostly a result of our plurality voting system. It is very hard for a new party to get off the ground — the one time it has happened in our history was the Republicans in the 1850s. What would be necessary, before any new party became relevant, would be to go to proportional representation.

      • July 13, 2012 12:34 pm

        Well, Teddy Roosevelt gave it a good try in 1912. If he and Taft hadn’t split the Republican vote, he might have won. But I think we’d need a similarly charismatic figure around whom a new party could crystallize.

    • July 14, 2012 1:49 am

      A successful third party requires more than disenchantment of a large part of the electorate. It requires a set of values ambiguous enough to garner broad support, and narrow enough to distinguish itself from the two parties. And after meeting both of those requirements, it must appeal to sufficient voters to have clout.

      The closest attempt in my Life Time was Perot’s constitutional party.
      Libertarians have been trying to build a party for decades – and despite being both far more numerous and far more consequential than any of the clouds you have been chasing, have never managed to become consequential.

  5. July 12, 2012 4:48 pm

    Thank you for the coverage. Pretty accurate report. The encouraging news is that the Congress 2.0 is still going on… on the internet. We, the same 76 or so who attended the Congress in Philly are still connected and still hammering out what we need to do to grow the movement, to coordinate the increasing numbers of other Occupy groups and their kind.
    This is a movement whose time is definitely here. Join an Occupy group, a 9/11Truth group, or a Transitions Town, or an Alternative Money group near you, then tell us about it.

    • July 13, 2012 12:37 pm

      Timothy: Glad your group is still trying to build momentum. I’ve checked the 99Declaration site, though, and it doesn’t look as if it’s being updated. (They didn’t even post the final Petition for a Redress of Grievances.) Do you have another site we need to be watching?

      • July 13, 2012 1:05 pm

        A very good article…and somewhat bittersweet as I was a delegate to the CC 2.0. Here is the forum that was set up for the delegates when the original website (you mentioned in a previous comment) closed down our forums. There is ongoing discussion about the way forward as well as some rehashing of other points at:
        The steering committee is still working to reformulate the website into one that reflects what was done at the CC 2.0, but they being delayed by problems unknown to me. Sincere thanks for your interest and support. KJ Lowry TX-12

  6. July 12, 2012 7:54 pm

    I was one of three delegates that formed the committee that wrote the document you printed above. It was read at Independence mall and I marched most of the way to the mall with the group, but the heat made me sick and I ended up missing the reading of the document. I agree with your account of what we tried to do and I agree with your conclusion that we need a powerful leader to help us on the way forward…BUT as Timothy Price said above we are still working and building online and we are NOT done.

    • July 13, 2012 12:46 pm

      You can be justly proud of your work; I thought it was a magnificent document. (In fact, I deeply regret that I had nothing to do with it.) I’m still stumped as to why there was so little media coverage, even though the media knew about CC 2.0 well in advance.

      I hope you can mend your fences with the OWS crowd and still maintain the special identity of your group. (I wonder if OWS was jealous because you guys actually made concrete proposals while they were camping aimlessly in the streets.)

  7. Anonymous permalink
    July 12, 2012 11:02 pm

    Thank you for posting the CC 2.0 Petition in its entirety, and commenting on it, here on The New Moderate.

    I didn’t know about the CC 2.0 ! I’m a guy whose patriotic soul is often on life support, a guy who notices and thinks a zillion times per day about the things that are barely holding us together and the things that are tearing us apart, and I didn’t know about it! Attention promoters, please contact the CC 2.0 folks.

    You people who can’t see past the two party system have no vision. Sure it’s entrenched and seemingly invincible now. And there were the Xerox execs who thought nobody would want a computer for personal use. And there were people who thought Negroes would always ride in the back of the bus.
    Jese Louise, it’s one thing to be practical and realistic and to not be naive, but c’mon people don’t get STUCK like a programmed robot in the here and now.
    There is much that everyone can do to PEACEABLY, LAWFULLY, METHODICALLY transition the United States to a more representative, healthy republic than it has ever been. Not just save it from swirling down the toilet, but make it BETTER THAN EVER. If you can’t see that, you’ve got no vision. Are we on the right paths to making it better than ever? Nope. Is it do-able. Yup.

  8. pearows permalink
    July 12, 2012 11:54 pm

    “You people who can’t see past the two party system have no vision.”

    Yeah, and we’re stupid. too. Puh-leeze.

  9. Anonymous permalink
    July 13, 2012 12:35 am

    Face it, the only viable form of transportation is a horse and buggy. Face it, the electric typewriter is now in every office around the world. Face it, we have a two party system. Puh-leeze Pearos, how far ahead are you looking? That’s what I said: no vision.

    • pearows permalink
      July 13, 2012 8:54 am

      Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with third- or fourth or fifth- parties, nor with the people who support them. Many who stand on principle discover that those principles are better articulated by third party candidates.

      But our system IS a two party system, and it is rare that 3rd party candidates ever win – although they can sometimes be effective spoilers. I think that the last time a third party candidate won any electoral votes was before the Civil War.

      So, two things here. First, I think it is arrogant to assume that reformers who choose to work within an established party “lack vision,” particularly in light of the recent success of the tea party (no caps) in influencing the GOP platform. Secondly, I see very little support among voters for a third party solution to our governmental woes. There really is no galvanizing issue – such as slavery – to create the conditions for a successful (and by that I mean “winning”) 3rd party, nor does there appear to be any effective leadership for one. And, without electoral success, you end up with CC 2.0’s that are ignored by all but a small number of earnest reformers.

      • July 13, 2012 12:53 pm

        Thanks, Anonymous… glad to have obliged. I think we should consider the third-party option, too… after we make some necessary reforms that would diminish the role of money in winning elections. (Let’s see if the Petition gains some traction.)

        Priscilla: I think the galvanizing issue — the impetus for starting a third party — is staring us in the face: Clean government. Getting money out of politics once and for all. Reversing Citizens United. A non-ideological reform party with populist roots could win a lot of support, especially in light of the deepening public contempt for both major parties at the moment.

      • July 13, 2012 3:18 pm

        Actually, the last time a third party won an electoral vote was a lot more recently than the Civil War. John Hospers of the Libertarian Party got an electoral vote in 1972. But this was because Roger MacBride, an elector who was supposed to vote for Richard Nixon, voted for Hospers instead. However, only 4 years earlier, in 1968, George Wallace, American Independent Party, got 46 electoral votes, 45 of them legitimately, by carrying the states whose electors voted for him.

    • July 14, 2012 1:55 am

      Selling people with buggies square wheels is not innovation.

      What is and is not innovative lives and dies in the marketplace – in this instance in the marketplace of ideas.

      An idea such as this one that is inherently self contradictory, that fails precisely because it cuts its own legs out from beneath it, is not innovative.

  10. July 13, 2012 12:33 pm

    I sit at my keyboard wanting to comment on this post, but find myself overwhelmed by one thought: We The People have allowed all these transgressions through out own apathy, through our diminishing proportions voting in elections, through our apparent abrogation of power to the very interests against whom this declaration is aimed. We have elected officials who are more interested in re-election than in actual governance, are informed not by facts through research but on the propaganda delivered by the 1%, and who (often) cater to party politics rather than to the needs of The People. We The People have created a monster through an assumption that someone else will take care of things. We The People have allowed the pork-barrel legislation that tacks irrelevant legislation onto solid bills, and have remained silent while religious and corporate interests bank-roll conservative politicians who vote against the interests of the very sub-We The People who elected them in the first place. Gone are the days of the Kennedys who were groomed for poliitical office, yes; but whose preparation was aimed at the Common Good, not self-interest. That we can take back power is a given right under the Constitution. We can demand more than sound bites from the media by merely tweeting respective news sources that we want more; yet We The People are more interested in the mundane tweets of entertainment stars’ breakfast menus than in making an effort to tweet our representatives about the political policies that affect us–given that We The People even have such interests.Yes, We The People have power. But we need to start exercising that power through the voting booth and the social media. We need to demand more from the Fifth Estate than sound bites. We need more of the passionate journalists who are more interested in presenting the legislation that allowed a BP oil spill to occur and exposing those who voted to allow such legislation, that allowed special education to be undersupported, that cares less about the reasons we have so many illegal aliens than their very fact, that… Well, you get the picture. Until We The People recognize that we can take back the power by spending a few minutes a day with the facts rather than sound bites–i.e., staying informed–We The People will continue to find our life styles diminish and our very power erode. I commend the CC 2.0 movement, and hope that it can gain the support it deserves to disseminate the grievances of those of us who have settled for a status quo that isn’t what we believe it to be.

    • July 13, 2012 1:13 pm

      Ellie: Unfortunately, We the People aren’t given much of a choice when it comes to picking candidates who will serve our interests. For example, both Romney and Obama seem to be in bed with big-money interests, and Congress certainly won’t vote in favor of any legislation that prohibits lobbyist dollars from flowing into their pockets. There has to be a little lever someplace in the system that we could pull… a lever that would negate the need for megabucks to win elections. Maybe if we could start a movement to ban campaign advertising and thus reduce the prohibitive cost of running for office…

      The media blackout of Continental Congress 2.0 made me suspicious; they knew about this event at least six months ago, and they had to know it was potentially historic. Yet they give more coverage to the scruffy campers of the Occupy movement — maybe because they know that these clowns won’t produce any meaningful change. That Petition for a Redress of Grievances is a different story, though… potentially it could end the stranglehold of the plutocracy as we know it, and that would be bad for the big media.

      And of course, you’re right that we’ve surrendered much of our clout through apathy and our contentment with the trivialities of celebrity culture. I don’t suppose we can do much about that, except to awaken the minds of good people who have put their hopes on the back burner.

      I’ll be anxious to find out what happens after the grievance petition is delivered to the three branches of our government. The 99% Declaration folks who wrote the petition threaten a lawsuit if no action is taken… but they’re strapped for cash and probably couldn’t hire a legal team to pursue the case. Maybe some public-spirited law firm could step in and take the case on a pro bono basis… they’d receive some great publicity!

      • July 13, 2012 5:08 pm

        There is always a choice–if not in a presidential candidate, then at least in our representatives. We continue–as We The People–to ignore that choice. When I was very politically active in college–back in the Stone Age–the same philosophy seemed to prevail, despite the decade of young political activists. That’s when I learned that all a group needs is to make a lot of noise or do something unexpected in a very public way. As individuals, we must take advantage of both the voting process and public expression if we want change. A whole lot of individuals working in concert is what creates large groups. Too many of us think someone else will take care of voicing our concerns–just as too many of us would rather be at a 4th of July picnic than at a potentially historic event. Maybe I take my right to vote too seriously. Maybe I believe that if enough individuals take their right to vote as seriously change can be a real possibility. Keep up the interesting political commentary, Rick. If enough people read and share your blog, change might actually come.

    • July 13, 2012 11:59 pm

      As a baby-boomer who was once an anti-Vietnam War protester and flower child/hippie of the late 60’s- early 70’s, I have become ashamed of my generation for what we have allowed the rich, greedy, and power-lusting 1% to do to our democracy and to the future of this nation. I joined the National Organization for Women in 1980 as a response to Reagan’s election, but then just lost my enthusiasm for activism when the deadline passed without the ratification of the ERA which I had worked for. Raising my family and teaching high school physics took all my time until 2010 when I couldn’t stand it anymore. I saw the drastic direction the Republicans and the Tea party were taking the country and decided I had to try to do something in the name of my children and grand children. I have devoted quite a lot of time, effort, and money (that as a teacher, I don’t really have) since then trying to help the people, the 99% to reform our government into one that is once again – for the people! I have begun to speak out against what we have let our government become and the 99% Declaration and CC 2.0 seemed like the best hope for real change. Unfortunately, we cannot seem to get the attention of enough people…at least not yet. I am still hoping! Like we wrote on our declaration…eventually, WE WILL BE HEARD. Thanks for your interest and inspiring words! KJ Lowry (CC 2.0: TX-12)
      “The price of Apathy is to be ruled by evil men.” – Plato

      • July 14, 2012 3:55 pm

        I have to respond to your share about anti-war protest in the Vietnam War Era. What many people didn’t get was that we who protested were not against the soldiers who were fighting but against a war in which we had no real reason to be involved. Just needed to throw in my 2 cents on that one. Anyway, keep up the good work in promoting CC 2.0!

    • July 14, 2012 2:01 am

      We the people have empowered all those interests you decry by tearing apart the super majoritatian constraints our founders placed on the federal government, by increasing its power and by deluding ourselves into believing that democracy is good government.

      Your argument presumes the past was better than the present. Yet you solutions are to do more of the things that transformed out government into what it is today.

  11. pearows permalink
    July 13, 2012 2:39 pm

    Rick, don’t you think that citizens that support major party candidates want clean government? Money and corruption have been part of politics since….well, since politics began, probably. And, although there are many who were appalled at the Citizens United SCOTUS ruling, so too were many appalled at Roe v. Wade, Kelo v. New London, and, most recently of course, the Obamacare ruling. But none of these, including Citizens United, have spawned a new political movement, so much as they have energized groups already politically set in opposition to specific issues. The reason I mentioned slavery was simply because you have to go that far back in US history to find an issue that HAS galvanized a genuine 3rd party movement, with the potential to affect national politics.

    Millions share your concerns…I certainly do. But, I don’t think that driving a wedge between the “haves” and the ‘have-nots” by using rhetoric like the 99% is a useful or even ethical way to get results. Or, more accurately, it will get results, just not the ones you want.

    Ellie, I agree with you that much of the electorate has become a low-information, propaganda-fed, celebrity-worshipping bunch. And I also agree that journalists in general are no longer worthy of that name, and that it would be a great thing if our educational system would teach people the skills to find the information that they need in order to take back the power that they have relinquished through their apathy.

    But, none of that would mean that we would necessarily agree on how to go about solving the many problems of a large and diverse democracy. Railing against money and corruption is part and parcel of most political protest movements – fighting against The Man is what it is. When 100,000 tea party protesters (or “teabaggers” as you prefer to call them) stood on the mall in Washington and demanded to be heard, they were derided as fools by the press. And, now that the CC 2.0 has gathered and declared its worth aims, it has been ignored. But the tea party movement turned its focus to winning elections and, like it or not, that has given it power and presence. All I am saying is that an effective reform movement has to do more than state its goals – it has to have a strategy for achieving them.

    • July 14, 2012 2:08 am

      I have been thumping for some time that this horrific income inequality that everyone is ranting about disappeared with the recession.

      CBO has now confirmed it. Ignoring the other tax information. Income inequality is back the the same level as during Clinton”s first term and declining rapidly.

      I would also note that every period of declining “inequality” corresponds to a recession.

  12. July 13, 2012 8:02 pm

    In reply to DREMILLER: I find your superior-to-thou, contemptuous comments about We The People offensive. You are scolding the wrong audience. Present your comments to those who vote by a 90% plurality for a politician based on his skin color. For those who have absolutely no knowledge of history. For those who don’t pay attention to any of the issues addressed by this blog. You haughtily proclaim how seriously you take your own vote. Big deal. I suspect all the people on this blog take their votes seriously.

    • July 14, 2012 4:08 pm

      To RP: Whether “We the People” or Reagan’s “Silent Majority,” the fact is that the majority of people do not vote and have thereby abrogated their power. What is surprising is that a large proportion of people who are qualified to vote are not even registered. When I speak of We the People, I do not differentiate by the color of a person’s skin, his/her national origin, his/her religious tendencies, his/her sexual preferences, or even his/her income. Instead, to me, We the People represents every citizen. If you listen to the news on Election Day, voting proportions generally include the qualifying phrase “of registered voters.” I have to laugh that you find my comments haughty, superior-to-thou, and contemptuous. If you knew my roots, you might think differently.

      • July 15, 2012 8:13 pm

        Those nations where people vote in large percentages are generally less politically stable with substantially greater internal strife.

        I chose to vote always. But not choosing to vote is a perfectly legitimate choice too. It essentially means I expect to be happy enough with the outcome that it does not matter that much to me who wins.

        To all those pushing their particular cause, that sounds positively vile.

        In the market called politics it is a signal. It means that no matter what oppinion that person expresses on any issue it is not sufficiently deeply held to act on out.

        Below Jon argues that in the real world voluntary action has not worked.
        But he is totally wrong. In the real world voluntary action has not produced his desired outcome. What it has produced would have been different if sufficient numbers of people cared.

        I have zero objections to Jon or anyone else persuading people to act voluntarily – so long as they are not acting to limit my or anyone else’s freedoms.

  13. Anonymous permalink
    July 13, 2012 10:58 pm

    Kudos to you, Pearows, for your clear and succinct response to my taunt about your vision! I’ve complemented your communication/blogging skills in the past, even though I find you usually leaning more conservative than I do. I don’t remember what my password is…too many passwords…

    Yes, Yes, certainly we are presently stuck with a two-party system. No denying that. In and of itself the two-party system wouldn’t be so extremely poisonous to the American people if both parties weren’t so disgustingly controlled by the Monopoly Men with their Monopoly Agendas.

    Don’t get ME wrong, sister: we GOTTA work within the system. Some of the best ways are within the system. But here’s what I don’t want: I don’t want Americans thinking/saying that that’s all we can do. That’s too defeated. That’s too resigned. That’s too accepting.

    At the same time that we are working within the system we also gotta think outside the box and create the new things that will take the place of the old. As an analogy, computer manufacturers didn’t have to go door-to-door to convince us to abandon our typewriters for word processors and the Internet. Something new was created and we gravitated to it. That’s the way of the 21rst century, baby!. War and bloody revolts are so old school and despicable. Now we create things that are better and the manipulators and the swindlers will eventually lose out like dinosaurs.

    Luckily for you and everyone else reading this, haha, I am about to remind you how the world works and what people are for, as opposed to squirrels or groundhogs or birds who can’t do this: we think of things, we figure out how we can make them work, then we get it done, like a truly representational republic for instance. Of course if we’re all inside watching reruns and not knowing our neighbors…well that’s just how the Monopoly Men like it.

  14. Anonymous permalink
    July 13, 2012 11:40 pm

    Postscript: when I say “Monopoly Men,” I am not talking about business owners or the rich or the “haves” vs. “have nots.” By Monopoly Men I am talking about the very elite manipulators at the very top, the kind who consider themselves above any mere country and its laws, the kind who push/manipulate legislation that makes it “legal” for U.S. soldiers to round up U.S. ciitizens without due process, and other evil manipulations like that.

    I agree with Rick that the CC 2.0 document was well written. Without a groundswell of citizens, however, without coordination that gets rolling, there will only be carefully controlled silence in response to the petition of grievances.

    • July 14, 2012 2:20 am

      So who are the monopoly men ? Gates ? Buffet ? Sorros ?

      If your villains are ethereal maybe it is because they aren’t real.

      I am not aware of some incredibly wealthy super elite bond villian crafting legislation to round up U.S. Citizens without due process. In fact, for all its flaws even out congress has not gone that far. But the purported constitutional scholar/community organizer, champion of the disposed has decided that this.
      Guantanamo it still open. There have been no civil trials of purported terrorists,
      We have more drone strikes than ever, Torture is still OK – if you get whitehouse approval first and the president of the united states is proud that the kill list is his personal responsibility.

      • Anonymous permalink
        July 14, 2012 9:07 am

        Oh no, it’s you again, the Black Knight, the man with ideas more entrenched than our two-party system. Are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan real enough for you? Of course Obama and Bush didn’t make those decisions. Did the American people call those shots? Another example: the people who are pushing behind the scenes for Canada, the United States, and Mexico to be a North American Union are PROFITEERS concerned with improving their bottom lines and not concerned for the American worker or the general welfare of the American people. It’s business before country. It’s business before people.

        “Monopoly Men” is a term, words, a communication tool, conjuring the image of the little silhouette in top hat from the board game, a representation of faceless “captains of industry,” global “movers and shakers,” and other powerful schemers, especially at the level where it gets corrupt and creepy. I don’t think you grasp the concept of capitalism at the levels where it gets corrupt and creepy. Based upon years of your posts, you see capitalism and free markets at their best, generating growth, raising the standard of living. Many of us are fans of industriousness, ingenuity, growth, and the healthy aspects of free enterprise/capitalism. I’m not sure if you are wired to grasp the concept of capitalism at the corrupt levels because that concept is blocked by the concepts you’ve already got up there.

    • July 14, 2012 2:24 am

      I also want to personally commend Glenn Greenwald for the moral courage to stick to his values even though they are now at odds with his party and president.

  15. July 14, 2012 2:27 am

    “Traditional conservatives prefer a powerful state built to preserve settled norms, libertarians are more aggressive in striking down laws that infringe on personal freedom. “There is a small island of government power and it’s surrounded by a sea of individual rights.”

    The difference between conservatives and liberals is only those norms they expect a powerful state to protect.

    Everyone favoring a powerful government should remember that the riegns of that government will eventually fall into the hands of those with radically different views on how to use that power.

  16. July 14, 2012 2:45 am

    More government failure:

    We have overpaid unemployment benefits to the tune of $14B/year – about 11%

    More people per money are going on disability than getting a job.

    The entitlement state has reach a point where in many instances a poor person loses
    as much as 80% of any increase in income to lost benefits. And this problem continues up to incomes of 40,000/year

    Click to access 901508-Marginal-Tax-Rates-Work-and-the-Nations-Real-Tax-System.pdf

    The Bottom 40% of us essentially pay no or negative net taxes.

    There are numerous correlations between Dodd Frank and the collapse of the nascent recovery that had been underway until it passed.

    In 2010 regulators mandated changes to OxyContin manufacture to make it harder to inhale or inject. OxyContin abuse declined by 25%, heroin abuse doubled
    “That’s why the law of unintended consequences is called a “law.” It also confirms the reality that the “stronger the drug laws, the stronger and more dangerous the drugs.””
    Mark Perry – economist.

    • July 14, 2012 2:46 am

      That is supposed to be “more people per month”

      • Anonymous permalink
        July 14, 2012 4:16 pm

        I said “Monopoly Men”…
        You said they weren’t real…
        I asked “are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan REAL enough…i.e. to demonstrate that men in high places (Monopoly Men) manipulate…
        then it seems you thought I asked if the wars “were enough” (rather than REAL enough) and then a few tangents ensued…
        Mankind will have colonies on Mars before I change your mind about government and free enterprise, etc. I don’t make the same clear-cut distinctions between government and Big Money these days because there’s too much Big Money using lawyers, government officials, and mass media, to rig the game for more Big Money for Big Money, but I don’t have time to debate with you.
        I think you are an intelligent, caring American. Good luck in your corner of America.

  17. July 14, 2012 3:07 am

    Five Myth’s about Free Enterprise – from the Washington Post.
    TNM seems to buy them all.

  18. July 14, 2012 8:41 am

    Here’s a twitter campaign, inspired by a tactic by @DrDigipol about jamming the twitter streams of candidates. It’s called #ShouldElectedOfficials StopTakingMoneyFromCorporationsTheyRegulate? I have personally gotten “Yes” from 40 candidates including David Walker, Buddy Roemer, Rocky Anderson and TJ Ohara, along with two senate candidates in CT. Here is the link for instructions

    Most notably missing are the major candidates. Even Jill Stein won’t say yes because she wants to take money from nonprofits. Gary Johnson ducked the question up on the screen in front of 700 in an internet town hall. Don’t we as citizens deserve an answer to this simple little question?

    It has an amazing 93% tripartisan rating on aGREATER.US where the ratings of conservatives, liberals, and independents are given equal weight (as they each are about 1/3 of the population).

    It wouldn’t take very many of us to get the attention of every candidate running for office in America. And recently the anti-PIPA/anti-SOPA campaigns changed Congress in about three weeks. Got ten minutes for a little democracy?

    • Anonymous permalink
      July 14, 2012 9:22 am

      “Got ten minutes for a little democracy?”

      Great phrase for our sound byte world! Above is a good example of something many couldn’t have envisioned a few years ago. More fresh ideas are taking hold. More good ideas are on their way. Don’t despair because of the problems of the status quo, people. Find a niche and contribute! It will restore your soul! It will save your ass! It will create something decent for your children.

    • asmith permalink
      July 14, 2012 11:52 am

      Johnson “ducked the question” because he is a libertarian and the answer would have had to have been NO.

      You would not expect Planned Parenthood to cease distributing condoms to advance your goal of reducing teen sexual activity.

      From a libertarian perspective what you are asking is immoral.

      • July 14, 2012 12:21 pm

        I have gotten a few libertarians to say yes, already. Isn’t it a matter of country over corruption?

      • July 14, 2012 6:34 pm

        No it is not a matter of country over corruption.
        You are proposing a solution that will fail, to be paid for in liberty.
        Any libertarian that agreed did not understand the question.

        It is power that corrupts not money. To the extent government has power it it will be corrupted. You can entirely eliminate money from the political process and all you will alter is the specific winners and losers and the mechanism by which the corruption occurs.

        If your country matters to you, then you will seek to reduce political corruption through the only means that can possibly work – reducing government power.

        We have myriads of examples of people demanding some sacrifice of principles or morality for the good of the country – when has that not ended badly ?

    • July 14, 2012 12:43 pm

      Done…I tweeted the message to Ted Cruz, David Dewhurst, Paul Sadler, Kay Granger, Dave Robinson, I have to tell you though…I have tried to get the current office holders in Texas to hear me and all I ever get is a form letter about their current activities…nothing about the topic I wrote to them about. Texas is just a deep dark despicable RED!

    • pearows permalink
      July 14, 2012 3:48 pm

      I don’t suppose #ShouldElectedOfficialsStopTakingMoneyFromThePublicEmployeeUnionsWhoseContractsand PensionsTheyNegotiate
      has gained any traction as a Twitter campaign?

      • July 14, 2012 4:57 pm

        They’re corporations, too.

      • July 14, 2012 6:38 pm

        “The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service” FDR.

        I have no problem with Politicians taking money from unions.

      • pearows permalink
        July 15, 2012 1:52 am

        Jon, I did not see any reference to public employees in the CC 2.0 document, and I don’t think that the average person considers, say, a teachers union to be the same thing as a corporation. But I’ll take your word for it that your movement considers them the same, at least for the purposes of campaign contributions.

        I often wonder, when I hear about things such as this Twitter campaign and other anti-corporation activism…..who exactly IS supposed to be allowed to support political candidates? And, I suppose more to the point, how are they supposed to do this? If I were, for example, a shoe company owner, and I discovered that one of my local or state legislators was going to vote for a bill that would make it more expensive or difficult for me to make good quality, reasonably priced shoes, should I not be allowed to use my company’s money to donate to his/her opponent in an election? Or, for example, should I be prohibited from advertising, along with other shoe companies, that this bill would hurt our businesses and cause us to make less profit?

        Perhaps there is something more to this anti-corporate stuff that I’m not picking up on. But, it always seems to me that there is no line drawn between actual corruption and the free exercise of political speech. It’s just “screw the evil corporations,” whether they’ve actually done anything wrong or not.

      • July 15, 2012 7:09 am

        I believe the solution is that businesses, corporations, unions, etc be prohibited from making political expenditures to or for (or against) candidates, elected officials, and political parties. But in no way (well maybe reasonable limits) abridge their free speech or rights to assemble. So in your example give personally to the opponent, advertise freely about issues. TJ Ohara has a line, only people vote so only people should give to candidates. But this outrageous pay to play, and only rich corporations having meaningful access to elected officials, and those officials spending more time raising (legal extortion and bribery) money than they do the work of the people really must stop.

  19. July 14, 2012 1:43 pm


    You confuse my failure to accept things that are illogical with rigidity.

    Come up with a good solution to any problem that does not reduce individual liberty and I will happily support it. But grasp that all increases in government power come at the expense of individual liberty.

    Are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan enough for me how ?
    I do not support them – not under Bush, nor Obama.
    They are excellent demonstrations that power corrupts.
    I think they are excellent counterpoints to all the falderal that more government power will result in less or whatever the progressive evil of the days is.

    I will be happy to decry the corporatists and their influence within these messes,
    but do you honestly believe that we went to Iraq primarily to empower the secret cabal of wealthy industrialists that actually rule us ?

    Your calling me crazy while proposing that we are in imminent danger of some supranational North American Union ?

    Just using “worker” as a label clouds your brain. I have myriads of roles. One of them is as a W2 employee for a multi-million dollar company. But I am not a “worker”.
    If your sole role in life is to accomplish a rote task – you have no future, there is a machine that will eventually replace you. Your value to yourself and the world is your ability to create. Some of us are better at that than others – life is not fair, get over it.

    Yes, I am ignorant, because I do not presume that everyone on Wall Street is Bernie Maddoff, that despite the fact that at every single other level people compete, that somehow at the pinnacle they are able to form cartels and cabals, that no one has ever seen.

    I often use “free market” but ultimately it is not about economics or capitalism, it is about Free people. “free markets” are just a semantic means of talking about the fictitious separation of other free human activity from that primarily involving economics.

    Grasping that wealth is whatever we want or need – that it includes listening to music, watching sunsets, reading to our kids, myriads of things we do not typically perceive of as economic, yet we can not engage in without being productive, should obliterate the fallacy that there is an economic world, a capitalist world a free market divorced from the rest of our lives.

    You can not have individual liberty absent economic freedom – because there are not two separate spheres of human action.

    Every single one of us – whatever labels you wish to try to force onto us, engages in those productive activities that you call business, not just so that we can buy food and shelter, but in order to meet every other need and desire we have.

    Our needs, wants and desires are each different – if that were not so there would be no need for freedom, and absent freedom we might actually be the drones in the world of your mythical “monopoly men”.

    Look at the real world. Dehumanization, slavery real or defacto, all correspond with greater government control.
    Absolutely the “captans of industry” seek to bend the power of government to their own ends – and no matter how you try to restrain them they will.
    But there is no actual historical instance of a corporatocracy. I have no doubt people have tried. Government can and will turn on even those power monied interests you claim are its masters. Further real power resides solely in government.There is nothing the “monopoly men” can offer a powerful government – that it can not just take.

    You presume evil motives to business – particularly at the top – yet you seem to believe that government – where the attributes necessary to succeed politically ensure far worse, will somehow be pure.

    Basically you have far more reasons to direct your paranoia at government than business.

    Individual liberty is not perfect, it just has no equal. I do not block the concept of corporate corruption – I just grasp that natural forces not only check it but minimize it, in all contexts except where it intersects government.
    There is not an never has been a successful sustained instance of any of your top tier corporate fears – absent government enabling and sustaining it.
    Pick your fear – what monopoly or cartel has persisted absent clear support from government ?

    I am afraid of problems history tells us to be concerned about. There is no example of a powerful enduring government. There is no example of a truly benevolent powerful government. Government power – both in theory and in all historical instances comes at the expense of the individual. Powerful government are totalitarian – not corporatism.
    Whatever the root value driving an increasingly powerful government if government power grows ceaselessly, the end is always totalitarian, and the root value is lost along the way.

    Conversely there is no historical example of corporate domination of government. Even in the most symbiotic relation eventually government turns on business. Business can not turn on government, the power rests with government, and contrary to the aphorism money is not power. No amount of money can force someone to do what they would not. But real power, government power, can force anything – except ultimately success.

    • July 14, 2012 6:22 pm

      I tripped over another issue in this.

      Not only is “the free market” a purely semantic means of artificially distinguishing some undefinable arbitrary economic aspects of individual liberty from the rest,

      But it is also fictitious because it is not a real institution or entity.

      Government regulations are real. They are specific, they have fixed consequences, they are rigid. They are an entity unto themselves. We can say that government regulates the economy, that it controls prices, or rations goods and services and those claims can be verified. Government is essentially a single entity, with occasionally conflicting laws and regulations.

      The “free market” is not an entity, it can not do any of those things listed above. Because it is not an institution, an entity, there is no concentrated power called the free market, there is no appeal to a higher power or authority.
      What we mean by “free market” is all the different freely made often contradictory choices made by all individuals with the freedom to make choices.

      There is no central regulating authority. There is no regulation, no rationing, no singular control. Each of us makes decisions for our selves based on our own circumstances at the moment. One or many of us may chose to forego something – such as travel while others do not. Increasing gasoline prices will likely result in less travel, but even though travel is reduced it is not “rationed” each and every one of us was free to decide to travel or not as we wished, each of us made an individual decision – based on our own criteria, including price. Terms such as regulate, control, or ration have no meaning in this context as decisions are made singly by each individual using their own personal criteria.

      This matters for myriads of reasons. First the top down language we use in the context of government just does not apply to markets. Market order and decision making are not even organic, as individual participants do not have to arrive at the same decision all other elements being the same. The spontaneous order of markets does not function the same and can not be described accurately using the language of hierarchically organized systems.

      The entire discussion of “Monopoly men” or these corporatist economic conspiracies purportedly engaged at the supposed top are conceptual impossibilities – the market does not and can not work that way. Global world Wealth creation is a bit under $50T/year. Public exchanges within the US dwarf that. Private exchanges dwarf public ones. In some parts of the world the shadow markets dwarf the open market.
      In a world where the sum of all exchanges within one day might equal the yearly GDP of the US, the combined wealth of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet is microscopic.
      The possibility of an organized cabal of the wealthy excercising the kind of economic control you are postulating is like an ant causing a Tsunami.

      The so called London Whale attempted to leverage JP Morgan Chase’s massive financial power – and the market response cost JP Morgan $5.8B.

      No one can sustain market manipulation – the market is way too large, no person, cabal, or organized group has the resources to do so, and the cost of near certain failure is enormous.

      Ordinary people making purchases in WalMart are individually powerless – except over their own decisions, but the the fortunes of Anonymous’s uber Cabal of Monopoly men depend on billions of tiny decisions made by hundreds of millions of people everyday.

      And all US 2012 election spending is less than that of CocaCola and Pepsi.

      I am sure that in return for a CocaCola hologram on the dollar bill that CocaCola would completely underwrite all presidential election costs for all candidates from all parties.

  20. July 14, 2012 2:12 pm


    On occasion you note that Obama and the democrats are in bed with big money also.

    While I might agree. I am still curious as to what creates your perception of that ?
    My perception is that most everything i can think of that Obama has done that serves big money, is something that you support.

    PPACA is a gigantic redistribution of wealth to health insurance and pharmaceutical interests. It is classic corporatism. I have little doubt that those business will be the ultimate losers, but still PPACA is something you deem acceptable despite its flaws.

    Obama bailed out GM & Chrysler to save auto unions.
    Despite all the “monopoly men” rhetoric, i would gather that most here supported the bailout of the banks – you all just wish that they had become Mother Theresa post bailout.

    What is some area where Pres. Obama has responded to the wishes of monied interests that you actually disapprove of the actual action rather than some minor detail of its implementation ?

    i am actually curious. My honest perception is that you are not really opposed to corporatism in principle, just the details when it serves your interest, and the message when it does not.

    How do you reconcile this with the claim that your efforts to stiffle bit political contributions are not an effort to thwart the expression and realization of a specific message, rather than some principled opposition to money in politics ?

    • July 14, 2012 6:26 pm

      I wasn’t thinking of the Affordable Care Act… although forcing us to patronize corporate insurers strikes me as strangely uncharacteristic for someone widely labeled as a “socialist.” I was thinking more about his relationship to the investment banking community.

      First, Obama is tight with a number of Goldman Sachs alumni, including Tim Geithner. Second, the president agreed to reimburse Goldman Sachs for 100 percent of its bad investments from the financial meltdown. (I didn’t get reimbursed for my losses, of course.) Third, Obama didn’t push to prosecute any of the Wall Street brainiacs who precipitated the crash; instead, I’m pretty sure he allowed them to keep doling out seven-figure bonuses (and more) to their key players, even as we were bailing them out with taxpayer money. Goldman Sachs should have been skewered alive for shorting its own financial products while selling them to clients; nothing happened. And of course Obama is beholden to George Soros… who knows what evil arrangements have sprung from that alliance?

      Other than that, I think Obama is a good man. 😉

      • Andy Tonti permalink
        July 19, 2012 4:14 pm

        Here, Here!!!

    • July 17, 2012 12:19 am

      I prefer the term “statist” to “socialist”. And it fits Romney and honestly nearly every poster here and many conservatives. It is anyone who believes that problems can best solved by central planning by a government elite. It fits Fascists, Socialists and communists – as well as monarchs.
      I think socialism aptly describes PPACA, all the Bailouts (started under Bush), as well as myriads of other Obama Policies. Nor does “socialism”, progressivism, or conservatism preclude “corporatism”.

      We prosecute people for crimes – violence, fraud, cheating, not mistakes.
      Not for being less smart than they thought they were. otherwise nearly the entire government would be in jail.

      As there are less than a handful of economists (mostly Austrian) who predicted this mess, it is ludicrous to claim that Wall Street deliberately precipitated this.
      Regardless, the roots are in government and the Fed, I believe you will find that the majority of economists accept one or the other or both of those propositions.
      Schools still teach that trading on the margin caused the great depression, yet I do not think that has been an accepted view for over 50 years. It is most definitely not Keynesian which attributes all economic problems to collapses in demand.

      Interests rates too low for too long is a recognized recipe for economic disaster grasped for over 100 years. It is atleast one of the causes of the great depression.

      Fannie and Freddies direct contribution to this was almost as large as Wall Streets, and that ignores the fact that indirectly they are responsible for nearly all the bad mortgages.

      Wall Street made significant mistakes – the single largest being ratings failures.
      There is absolutely no problem with risk taking. But mis-pricing risk is disasterous.

      Further you can not nail Wall Street because the policies that drove them are still in place. Banks and mortgage companies are still required by law to lend at improperly priced interest rates to people who do not have sufficient credit to qualify for those rates.

      I would also note that those parts of Wall Street uninvolved with mortgages were highly profitable in 2008 (and since). This would have been far worse if while one group was losing 100’s of billions others were not making 10’s of billions. It is those people who received bonuses and without them NYC and NY state would have gone bankrupt.

      Prosecutions against Wall Street and Mortgage companies did not proceed because in addition to not having a cause – losing money is not a crime, making bad choices is not a crime. Further there are two affirmative defenses that would have been vociferously made by anyone being prosecuted. Policies of Fannie, Freddie, the Federal Reserve and the Federal government required bankers and mortgage companies to write the mortgages that were written – and still do. Someday go read the Boston Fed’s guidelines for alternative credit standards in lending. These were eventually adopted as policy by everyone mentioned above. You can not read them without grasping this is a demand to loan money to people with a significantly diminished probability of being able to pay.

      So how are you going to convict people of doing what the law required ?

      Absent the collapse in the value of mortgages, Wall Street would not have even hiccuped. Most every other purported mistake on wall street was inconsequential on its own. The notorious credit default swaps were just a form of insurance on mortgage. Not even the US government has the resources to insure against an 11T loss.

  21. July 14, 2012 6:59 pm


    I am quite easily convinced by facts, and meaningful non-fallacious argument

    I am slightly prone to tangents – but the vagueness of your conspiratorial claims is one giant tangent in all directions.

    I addressed as best as I could make out what I believed you thought was significant about Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Now your argument seems to be that “Monopoly men” are not “the rich and powerful” but our political class.

    We got into Afghanistan because that countries leaders sheltered those who committed an atrocity against us. We nuked Japan for less. The questions regarding Afghanistan are why did it take so long and why did we stay.

    Anyone in this nation that thinks we were deceived into invading Iraq is nuts.
    Yes, there was false information, but you are deceiving yourself if you think that would have made a difference.

    Now you are telling us that MSNBC and NYT are in cahoots with these shaddowy “Monopoly men” who are either the uber rich, corporate kings, powerful lawyers or our political class.

    If you want me to agree that there is a segment of the business world that has a parasitic relationship to government – I am with you. But that will be true to the extent that and so long as government has power – and so long as anything exists outside of government.
    But once government becomes total, the parasites are killed, thought the corruption continues.

    Regardless you are not arguing with me – you are arguing with history and reality.

    I have no idea whether I can persuade you of anything – and don’t really care, that is not my purpose.

    So long as you are willing to leave my freedom intact – I do not care much what you believe. The problem is that you are willing to sacrifice my freedom and everyone else’s to whatever your particular political whim is.

    It is that that set libertarians at odds with liberals and conservatives and apparently moderates.

  22. July 14, 2012 7:38 pm

    This is only slightly off point. It is essentially about “economic thinking”.
    The distinction between the “seen and the unseen”

    But the critical point is that all those economic (actually just logic) claims that regulations, benefits, etc. all have a cost – well its true. It is generally accepted by Keynesians and new keynesians, and austrians and neoclasical economists, and the chicago school and pretty much everybody.

    Whatever government does, raise taxes, increase benefits, impose minimum wages comes at an economic cost – paid as reduced wages, increased unemployment, decreased standard of living, ….

    You can argue that my specific claims about how that cost will play out are wrong, but not that there will be no cost.

    Worse still in the real world – where things are not “friction-less” the cost is usually higher than the benefit.

  23. July 14, 2012 7:57 pm

    More on the same issue by Matthew Yglesias

    I should leave Matt to his own words – you are more likely to listen to him than me.

    I am not offering this specifically for the labor market arguments, but again the general argument that there is no progressive magic wand that makes desirable public policies – regardless of the part of the market they target somehow free or even cheap

    Those aspects of economics focused on the creation of wealth are not zero sum because:
    Creation is by definition not zero sum. In a free market negative and zero sum and even small net positive solutions are weeded out and rejected.

    But the intersection of government and the economy is nearly always negative sum.
    The creative experimental process that seeks out the few positive sum solutions does not happen with government.

    Despite his repeated attacks on libertarians, and a few minor errors – including upside down uses of freedom at the end, this prominent progressive has penned a very libertarian attack on Labor Market Regulation.

    Equally important from my perspective, a prominent thinking progressive is saying that imposed progressive labor policies come at a cost – usually in wages or employment.

  24. July 14, 2012 9:06 pm

    Have you received a reply to your posting in the comment section of the99percent? We/They Are in sore need of a media ‘first contact’ sort of person. like you I can’t promote them if I can’t even talk to them And I am a Registered, Donated, Voted, 99percent’er so I’m a little confused as to the lack of communications.
    And if you don’t mind I would like to re-blog your article in it’s entirety with link-backs off course. I just think you did a beautiful job, and I’d like to get more respondents involved.

  25. July 15, 2012 3:43 am

    Elaine: In response to my comments on the 99% site, someone gave us a link to the Petition for a Redress of Grievances that was adopted at Continental Congress 2.0 (the same document that I heard being read on Independence Mall). And a few 99-Percenters have dropped in for the discussion here. But I’m surprised that they haven’t updated their own site to include the text of the Petition. It really is an important and eloquent document as far as I’m concerned.

    Someone informed me about an ongoing discussion at a 99% Working Group forum, though I haven’t looked in on it. I think we both agree that the group needs to publicize itself more effectively and be a little more accessible. I wonder if they’re afraid of angering the rowdy Occupy Wall Street crowd, which (unfortunately) views them as competition.

    Glad you liked the article… by all means feel free to reblog it!

  26. pearows permalink
    July 15, 2012 9:55 am

    Jon, I’m going to respond to our exchange down here at the – current – bottom of the page so that my response window is a little wider…… Anyway, I understand that you don’t want just big corporations to have more meaningful access to lawmakers than individuals have. But, in one of your own comments, you speak glowingly of the huge internet campaign that was orchestrated against SOPA (I stand with those who opposed SOPA, btw, so this is not a quibble over that). Google, a big corporation by any account, placed an anti-SOPA statement on its main query page during the blackout. Now, granted, this is not “money” but it is certainly corporate access to public opinion and lawmakers that is far broader and more meaningful than you or I as individuals would have (or even than the individuals who run Google would have, without their multi-billion $$ platform to use at will). Right?

    So, by my logic, this is an example of a big corporation using its power and reach to influence lawmakers in an “unfair” way, and should therefore not be the object of your praise, but lumped in with all of the other evil corporations that try to influence government policy. Should Congress ban this type of big money publicity that supports or opposes a statute or politician?

    As a media company, perhaps Google has greater 1st amendment rights than my ficticious shoe company…..I don’t think so, but that case could be made. Nevertheless, I question the inherent illogic in opposing Citizens United while supporting other forms of corporate speech.

    • July 15, 2012 11:01 am

      While 83% of Americans think money has too much influence in politics, there is not a consensus supermajority solution (a constitutional amendment is likely needed) as to how to limit Super PAC money or a Google from exercising their free speech rights. There does appear to be forming a consensus to get corporations out of elections, however. There is a delicious shareholders rights issue, and even corporate executives tire of being extorted and having to bribe more and more legislators. Is there any other profession in the country that allows the practitioner to benefit financially from the clients they serve? (other than their fee/salary) I suppose legalizing extortion and bribery may have made this nation great, but I doubt it will make it greater.

      • asmith permalink
        July 15, 2012 3:07 pm

        Jon; It is entirely possible that a constitutional amendment might not be sufficient. Absent actually repealing the first amendment you are left with a conflict, and the courts can resolve conflicts between portions of the constitution essentially as they please.

        If you are concerned about political corruption – go after corruption.

        How about forming an office of Public Corruption probably under the Judiciary briefed to investigate all forms of public corruption.

        Your fixation on SuperPACs is incredibly disingenuous.

        Off all the money in politics – independent expendatures – SuperPACs is clearly the least corrupting. How can you have a quid pro quo, when the politician does not know who spent how much for what ?

        SuperPACs are independent of candidates, they are more issue based – even when they support a specific candidate. Parties have no control of independent expenditures. They are actually by far the most clearly engaged in Speech. That is pretty much all they do. They do not typically run get out the vote drives, they do not pay for campaign staff, or opposition research or polling. All they do is put out their message.

        Further less that 1/2 percent of SuperPAC money comes from corporations.

        There is a shareholder issue. If you own stock in a company that is making political contributions you dont like then:

        Sell your shares and buy stock in a company with values you like.

        Use the corporate decision process as a criteria for making your purchasing decisions.

        Get the issue on the agenda for the next shareholders meeting.

        I have been constantly beating the drum that corporations as freely associating groups of PEOPLE. If you are a shareholder, you are both an owner and a person. The federal government can no more legitimately restrict the rights of groups of people than it can individuals.
        But people can voluntarily constrain themselves.
        Corporations are a pure form of voluntary democracy – one share one vote, absolute majority rule, and completely voluntary membership.

        I am in favor of absolutely any action that you take on your own to address public corruption.
        But I will oppose any effort by anyone to take rights from me or anyone else – regardless of the purported purpose.
        There is no problem you fix by limiting peoples rights.

    • July 15, 2012 3:32 pm


      Not disagreeing just asking ?

      Was what Google did Speech ?

      Is there anything that Google does that does not cost money ?

      CC 2.0, Rick and all the campaign finance zealots, tend to pretend their agenda is narrow, but it is not.

      SuperPAC receive negligible corporate financing, and are independent of parties and politicians. They are most clearly engaged in Speech, and they are structurally the most distant from political corruption. Yet they are at the top of the list.

      Lets say that George Sorros, decided he had something he wanted to say to everyone.
      Should he be allowed to buy as much televison time as he could afford to say whatever it is that he wanted ? Could we legitimately say, you can speak, but only about certain things, or you not about certain things ?

      If you can not accept that – then you are essentially saying we can deprive someone of their first amendment rights or limit them solely because they are rich.

      If you can than how is that different from Sorros forming a separate company owned solely by him, paying to produce adds, hiring staff to get out his message ?

      If he can do that why can’t he form a company whose purpose is to get a specific message out and sell shares in that company to other like minded people.

      At this point you have a SuperPAC (though you probably did the step before).

      I will take a giant step forward from this and really piss some people off and say:

      i do not care if Sorros comes out and publicly states “I strongly support PPACA, I will give $10M tot he political candidate that promises to vote for it”
      I see that as a perfectly free exercise of his free speech rights.

      I will also arrest every candidate that takes money from him for public corruption.

      It is not offering money to advance a political cause that should be illegal.
      It is taking it.

      • July 15, 2012 3:55 pm

        I really don’t have much of a problem with issue advertising by individuals or corporations. My problem is with corporate political expenditures to or for (or against) candidates, elected officials, and political parties—it is for all intents and purposes legalized graft. Your argument about corporate governance may work in a perfect world, but this isn’t one of those. Most investors own funds with hundreds of holdings. There is no way for an average investor to mine the political data even if it were readily available. It’s an argument that is, nudge-nudge, wink-wink, fixed in favor of an incredibly small number of corporate board members. “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Lord Ashton

        Personal donations to candidates are already limited.

        If candidate X is for a more lenient immigration policy, and corporations or individuals want to advertize for that—I’m okay with it. If candidate Y the opposite, fine. I think that’s democracy, maybe even greater democracy. But I have a major problem with pay for play.

      • July 15, 2012 7:56 pm


        As you noted this is not a perfect world. Politics does not cleanly divide into adds for or against candidates and “issue adds” In fact there is no meaningful distinction. How many political adds have you seen that say only Vote for X, or vote against Y ? They all spend nearly all their time on issues,

        At the same time the rules of logic apply even in our imperfect world. And our rights derive from that imperfect world. They are not fungible just because some of us want a different outcome.

        Further the imperfect world argument cuts all directions. One reason I seek to dis-empower government is that political corruption is about the abuse of political power not money. Lord Acton did not say “Money Corrupts” he said “Power Corrupts”. Ignore the power and play arround with the money all you please – you will accomplish nothing.
        By attacking it tangentially in the real world you are bound to fail. I can not tell you exactly how implementing your scheme will play out, but I am absolutely certain that the result will not reduce political corruption, at best it will change the means and rearrange the players. We have seen this again and again with politics and government.

        You essentially had the scheme you are after for presidential elections prior to Obama declining public matching funds – are you really prepared to argue that was so much better that a constitutional amendment is necessary to get us back to THAT ?

        Why dies the diversity of investment matter at all ?
        Investors – and that is essentially all of us, as still free to invest as we please, to purchase as we please to hold business accountable as we please. In the rare instances we do so – it works extremely well.
        When we do not that does not mean the system does not work. It means either we do not care or we support what is being done
        Either way it is the only legitimate real world means of addressing the problem.

        Not working out the way you want is NOT the same as failure.

        Regardless, once again, SuperPACs – at the top of your hitlist, receive negligible funding from corporations – I am having a really hard time making your entire attack against corporations even fit in the context of SuperPACs.

        Election laws are complex. But speaking narrowly individual donations are not limited. There are many campaign limits that are perfectly valid in the context of voluntary federal matching funds. The more rigid rules that apply their are only constitutional because the candidate accepts them as one of those quid pro quo’s that you are so unhappy about.

        At least you seem to grasp that you need a constitutional amendment for this. Constitutional amendments are the way we are supposed to make substantial changes in the powers of government. And they are supposed to be very hard to achieve.

        Finally, we do not live in a democracy. There are no successful democracies – ask Socrates.

      • July 15, 2012 9:22 pm

        You wrote…


        Super PACs are corporations. I’m proposing a ban on corporate political expenditures to or for (or against) candidates, elected officials, and political parties. No more PAC money for them, period.

        PACs and Super PACs would still have full free speech rights on issues. Just can’t mention candidates, elected officials, or political parties. Americans are smart. Talk to us on issues. Don’t bully us on who to vote (or not vote) for. This isn’t kindergarten.

        You also wrote…


        Just try and personally hold a corporation accountable. Not even the government could prosecute the outrageous rampant mortgage fraud from the crash. You know why? The banking industry funds the reelection of all the incumbents. Money IS certainly power my friend. And it corrupts. Absolutely.

        There is a consensus forming. My proposals may not be exactly it, but we reformers, left, right, and center on an inward spiral. We are finding common ground. We’ll get there, it’s only a matter of time now.

      • pearows permalink
        July 15, 2012 8:31 pm

        Pretty much everyone across the political spectrum is opposed to pay-for-play, which is little more than legalized corruption. But, as you point out, that is not the same as political speech. And my point has been that there does not seem to be, in this Declaration of Grievances, any recognition of the fact that companies, as well as unions and other groups have to right to air their own opinions and grievances, in the way that Google did against SOPA. On the contrary, the 1% is to be viewed as the enemy and stopped….I presume by the government.

        Ok, so money is property, not speech. I can buy that (pun intended ;)). But when it is used to buy advertising, that advertising is speech. And government regulation of that speech, by trying to even out the “fairness” of who gets to promote their point of view, is unconstitutional. George Soros, Warren Buffet and the Koch brothers have a right to free speech, and to use their own personal wealth to donate to causes and organizations and candidates that they support. The New York Times is a corporation – it can endorse candidates, publish hit pieces on candidates it dislikes…Fox News can do an hour long special on any issue that they find to be important and present a point of view. But not Citizens United? Not the ACLU?

  27. July 15, 2012 8:47 pm

    Americans Revolt Billions of Times a Day

    If you can find yourself even one place in this list – and you are still pushing for greater government regulation of pretty much anything – thing you are a hypocrit.

  28. July 15, 2012 9:39 pm

    Harvard Economist Greg Mankiw, took the recent CBO report on distribution of income and taxes and calculated the effective tax rate for each quintile treating transfers(government benefits) as negative taxes

    Bottom quintile: -301 percent
    Second quintile: -42 percent
    Middle quintile: -5 percent
    Fourth quintile: 10 percent
    Highest quintile: 22 percent

    Top one percent: 28 percent

    Essentially only the top 40% of us pay more in taxes than we receive in benefits.
    2007 was the first year since these records were kept that the middle class received more than it paid (0.5%)
    Like it or not more than half of us are “on the dole”

    This is also why the cost of government is being paid pretty much entirely by those rich people who purportedly are not paying their “fair share”.

    Maybe in some moderate wet dream it is justifiable that the poor pay no taxes and receive three times their actual income in government benefits. Though I think most of us see the poor is the bottom 5-10% The poverty level used in the US since 1965 sets poverty at approximately 15% of the population – 3/4 of the lowest quintile. The EU uses a rate 60% below the median income which usually results in a lower rate of poverty (also with far poorer poor).

    Why are the Second and third Quintiles net govenrment beneficiaries ?

    How in light of the fact that the cost of government is being entirely born by the top 40%, that the middle class does not even cover the cost of its own benefits, and that the top 40% are substantially subsidizing the income of the bottom 40%, how can increased taxes for the “rich” be “fair” in anyway ?

    “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”
    ― Alexis de Tocqueville

    “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”
    ― Alexis de Tocqueville

    • July 15, 2012 9:54 pm

      I read that on twitter, too. Right after: that since Reagan the top 10% has amassed 90% of the country’s wealth. The only rational way to unravel all this would be to sit a thoughtful reflective citizen’s jury for a year to hear all sides of the tax structure and see what they come up with. All these claims are totally mind boggling, and don’t sound civilized to me.

      • July 16, 2012 9:08 am

        I don’t twitter – but I do read Mankiw – as well as a many other economists.

        I do not recall stealing anything from anyone, or having anyone steal from me. I and the vast majority of americans seem to recall the Reagan-Clinton era as one of incredible prosperity for all. Even the Clinton Wealfare reforms – which this president is unraveling, significantly increased the wealth of those at the bottom.

        Your “citizen’s jury” sounds an awful lot like Stalin or Mao.
        After they confiscate everything are they going to send us all for re-education ? Will all those who disagree be forced into public “self-criticism” ?

        The social contract alters but one of our natural rights – that of initiating violence against others. Any government that exercises power beyond that is not legitimate. You fixate on the declaration of independence – bother to read it. It spells out the philosophical and moral basis for government. Em-paneling a jury or a legislature to deprive a group or individual of their rights absent their actual infringing on the natural rights (not some fictitious government created right) of another, is tyranny.

        Regardless, it is unecescary, There is decades of data on taxation, income inequality, standard of living, not just from the US but across all OECD countries, and the story it tells is damning.

        Increases in freedom directly correspond to increases in standard of living – for everyone. These are not just my words or claims they are the data across world governments since the 80’s (and likely all history, but we do not have that much data)

        By pretty much every measurable standard, almost the entire world is doing better that it ever has before. The rich, the poor, irrespective of geography, resources, or initial conditions, the variable most effecting how much better a people are doing is their freedom. Using a 1-10 scale, each 1 point increase in freedom, results in atleast a 1%/year increase in median standard of living. Over thirty years that nearly doubles the median standard of living.

        I keep drilling in that wealth and money are not the same, because confusing them leads to all kinds of fallacious conclusions – such as that as the top 1% have accumulated more money the rest of us have less wealth. Check NBER data. The bottom quintile in this country is atleast twice as wealthy today as it was under Reagan. Money is what we accumulate when accumulating further wealth makes no sense. If you are poor – or even middle class, and you earn an extra 10,000, do you invest it, or buy a car, a house, a refridgerator, a TV, an airconditioner — increase your real wealth.

        One of the things that angers me the most about progressives and their pseudo moderate kin, is this willingness to counter fact with opinion.

        You can challenge the CBO data underlying Mankiw’s chart if you wish.
        But once you accept it the chart is just a summary of fact.
        At that point you are left with questioning its meaning.

        Regardless, I am not hearing anyone outside of a few progressive political hacks, claiming that the cost of the federal government is not born entirely by the upper 50%, and almost entirely by the upper third.

        I will be happy to agree that taxes on capitol (nearly all taxes on “the rich”) are always transferred to others. That ultimately all taxes are paid by the bulk of the people – either directly or indirectly through higher prices.

        The great fallacy of the top down claptrap is the presumption that government can dictate and people will behave as commanded

        You wish to control the money in politics. Even in the unlikely event you succeed, since you have done nothing about government power government corruption will continue to exist. In the event that you actually accomplish precisely what you intend we will still all be poorer and worse off for it.

        I will be happy to back up any “claim” I make with hard data.

        Meanwhile you are making ludicrous claims like regulating money does not regulate speech – when you admit that your objective is to alter what is being said and by whom. Or conflating SuperPACs with corporate money, and pretending that the nearly non-existant quid pro quo of independent expenditures is the moral equivalent of putting cash in the hands of a corrupt politician. By the same logic when you buy a Honda Civic at a used car lot, you are bribing GM to manufacture more blue SUV’s.

        You keep bringing up the real world. Well the real world works pretty much as I describe.

        Acton was correct, Power corrupts. You can alter any factor you wish, so long as you leave power intact you will end up with the same degree of corruption. At best you alter who is doing the corrupting.

        In the real world top down imposed solutions – fail. If that were not so, we would all speak Russian (or german) by now.

        If you insist on solving problems using means that we know fail – you should not be surprised when even after you get impose your solutions, the situation will be worse.

      • July 16, 2012 9:15 am

        Apparently you think it wrong for citizens to study, have deliberation and dialogue in a formal process to make recommendations on solutions for the country’s problems. Why’s that?

  29. July 16, 2012 10:33 am

    “SuperPAC’s are corporations” – that is true because our government prefers it that way.
    Regardless, they are neither groups formed to sell goods and service, to make a profit, nor conseqentially funded by such groups.

    They are essentially divorced from the quid pro quo corruption you endeavor to fix because they do not give to candidates, but also because they can receive anything from a candidate. Which for profit corporation is “Priorities USA” seeking to benefit ? Who is getting an oil lease, a favorable twist on a regulation ?

    Would it actually make any difference to you if a SuperPAC did not use a corporate form ? Would LLP’s partnerships, sole proprieterships somehow be acceptable to you ?

    The FACT is they are PEOPLE engaged in SPEECH.

    I still do nto recall a single political add whose only message was “Vote for X” or “Vote against Y”. The american people are intellegent. They not only do not just vote for whoever they are told to vote for, but they actually listen to and weigh the reasons. They do not each do that in the same way, nor even reach the conclusions I would prefer. But they are free to reach their conclusions as they please. They are free to turn off the TV. You think that making them less free will produce better results.

    I personally do not think that mentioning a specific candidate by name is important – except as an issue of principle. Dictating that you can not mention a name is still regulating speech – not money. It would be no different from a law saying you can not mention “Friday” on TV. Further if i produce an add criticising the specific policies of a given candidate without naming them – is that going to be acceptable ? If so banning mentioning names is pointless, if not you are essentially saying you can not criticize or advocate for specific policies if those policies can be identified with a candidate.

    How would you craft an add that addressed Haliburton and Blackwater, or Solyandra, or PPACA, or …. pretty much anything without transparently advocating for or against a candidate ? How do you criticize political corruption ?

    One of the reasons we have near absolute prohibitions against regulating speech is because it is impossible to regulate content without – regulating content.
    If you have a narrow rule – you can not mention candidates or parties by name.
    You have paid a steep price – opening the door to regulation of content – for zero gain. Anyone can not figure out how to clearly identify who they support or attack without naming.
    If you chose a broader rule there is nowhere that you can define a bright line. You either end up prohibiting all or nearly all political speech or you end up with thousands of court cases parsing words.

    The reason it is trivially easy to shred these types of proposals is because no matter how high sounding they may be or noble their objectives, they are morally wrong.

    In another era Progressives and other statists argued for improving humanity through eugenics. Noted progressive Justice Holmes famously uttered “three generations of imbeciles is enough,” and gave us Bell v. Buck.

    Having lofty aspirations and noble ends does not alter the immorality of the means.
    The fundimental issue in Bell V. Buck, as in Citizen’s united was not the “constitutionality” of the legislation, but its morality.
    Compulsory sterilization of the mentally retarded was constitutional – Eight justices said so. It is still the law of the land – it has never been reversed.
    Is it moral ?

    I have no problems with your aspiration to reduce political corruption.
    But the means you have chosen are ultimately impossibly vague and broad, ineffective, unconstitutional and most importantly immoral.

    Irrefutably the core of your solution is to limit the rights of some for some purported benefit of others. It is unimportant whether we are seeking to limit the rights of the rich, or the poor,, whether we are seeking to benefit corporations or minorities. Taking a right from one for the benefit of another is worse than the political corruption you decry.

    “First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

    Martin Niemoller

  30. July 16, 2012 10:49 am


    I would also not that when you create legislation, you inevitably involve the courts in interpreting it. Legislation needs to be simple and obvious – so that we can trivially determine whether we are conforming, and so that we can easily see that it has not infringed on rights. The more complex the legislation, the less bright lines it has, the harder it is to know what it means and the more political the process of interpreting it becomes.

    Politicizing the judiciary both literally corrupts them, and possibly more importantly erodes our faith in them.

    one of the reasons you got CU, was because the court wisely grasped that trying to establish some framework for the time, place extent, means, words, that one interest group (CU) could use to criticize another Democratic candidate (Hillary Clinton)
    Was not only impossible, but would have a corrosive effect on the courts.

    If you succeed in your efforts – and the courts decide that whatever you produce is constitutional, You will end up with thousands of inconsistently decided cases splitting hairs over whether this political advertisement or that one, crosses some unclear threshold. Regardless of who wins the losers will claim foul, corruption and politics. And the already flagging integrity of our judiciary will suffer further.

    • July 16, 2012 10:51 am

      And the losers will be right, because there is no non-political, moral, means of deciding how to parse political speech.

  31. July 16, 2012 3:22 pm

    I haven’t read all the comments, and for all I know, the answer is in there someplace. But could someone save me the time and give me some reasonably concise answers to these questions: If a corporation is a person and money is speech, who decides to “speak” on behalf of all the thousands of individuals who work for that corporation? In other words… what if the employees are 47% Republican and 53% Democrat, but the board is 90% Republican? Does the company automatically donate the money to the Republican candidate because the board is Republican? Do they take a company-wide vote? (Somehow I doubt it.) You can see the problem here.

    • July 17, 2012 1:17 am

      Corporations are not “individuals” they are groups of individuals. Individuals do not lose their rights in groups. In the mid 19th century the Supreme court created the legal fiction that corporations were persons. This fiction was necessary to hold corporations responsible for their actions – as shareholder liability is limited to the value of their shares. The “voice” of a corporation does not belong to its employees, or its management, but its shareholders. Management is authorized by shareholders to act for them in all things, and shareholders can remove management when it does not like its choices. Further ownership of a corporation and patronage of it are both voluntary. If you do not like the speech of a corporation, either vote your shares, sell your shares or take your business elsewhere. These are all effective ways of using your rights to reign in a corporation.

      Further most large corporation donate to both parties – usually in proportion to the likelihood of a given party winning.
      2012 seems to show a small shift in corporate donations toward Republicans.
      In 2008 of the top 100 corporate donors more than 2/3 gave more money to democrats than republicans.

      Further despite your and other rants CU has not resulted in some torrent of corporate contributions. I believe overall corporate donations have declined.
      you have the motivation for most corporate contributions upside down. Corporations that do not contribute are typically punished by politicians elected without there support. It is not even necessary to enact legislation against the interests of the corporation, it is just necessary to threaten to do so. The threat is contribute or you will have to spend far more money lobbying against my wrath. Several notable democrats have been very open about this.

      The big change in 2012 is the “SuperPACs” which receive very little money from corporations. Can accept unlimited contributions, but can not coordinate with candidates. However you may feel about SuperPACs they are the most independent form of political action, and the least capable of the type of corrupting influence you deplore.
      If jon Denn were advocating for all SuperPACs and no contributions to parties or candidates, – while i would still be opposed, atleast the argument would be more rational.

      The reasons SuperPACs are “offensive” is that there primary funding is from the wealthy, and unlike corporate giving which even without unions tends to favor democrats, the majority of SuperPACs are conservative. Which is why I keep arguing you are seeking to restrict speech based on message.

      CU did not assert for the first time to corporations were persons. It just chose to overrule a 30 year old precedent rather than two precedents of 100 and 150 years respectively.

      But you can arrive at exactly the same result without “corporate personhood” – unless you are prepared to decide that the rights of a group are less than the sum of the rights of the individuals that make it up.

      Whether Money is speech or not is also irrelevant. Political speech is the most strongly protected form of speech. Government restrictions on speech must meet the most rigorous of all constitutional terms of review – strict scrutiny.
      Restrictions on speech can not be content based, must serve a compelling public interest and the law must be drafted in the most narrow and least infringing way – as well as many other conditions. Restricting speech indirectly – by restricting times, places, or any of the resources or requirements for speech is subject to the same standards.

      i.e. You can’t pass a law that says, you can say whatever you please – but only in your shower on tuesday nights after midnight.

      Are you really prepared to argue that restricting political contributions will not result in less speech ? If you can not make that case, then you are stuck making the case that the restrictions you seek are not content based, are the least infringing means of accomplishing a compelling purpose, …. That is an extremely difficult burden to meet.

      The real core of CU was that since the 70’s the courts accepted reducing public corruption as a compelling purpose, and accepted there was no less infringing means to accomplish this. With CU they rejected that. There are both other less infringing ways, and data since the 70’s have demonstrate negligible effect of campaign finance laws on public corruption.

      There is also a separate issue as to whether even though the federal government is prohibited from restricting political contributions, that it can be done at the state level.
      It is likely post CU that the same restrictions apply to the states, but not absolutely certain.

  32. Pat Riot permalink
    July 16, 2012 4:44 pm

    Oy Veh! Reasonably concise would be nice.
    Voluminous diatribes are counterproductive here. I’d need to hire a full-time staff to identify and respond to all the potentially explosive “mines” scattered and hampering the forward flow of discussion.

    The need for campaign reform, especially establishing rules to reduce corruption, is really a common sense no-brainer. We should be on to a helpful discussion of concrete steps of HOW best to implement, not in circuitous debate about whether we should.

    Just as anti-trust laws in the U.S. (and “competition laws” in other countries) are established to allow competition in business instead of strangling control (monopoly) by powerful groups, so too do we need “competition laws” in our election system instead of strangling control by powerful groups. No time to completely wordsmith that, I’ve got a full-time job. You get the common sense gist, right?

    Any individual bloggers out there whose “theoretical thinking” actually leads them to think such competition laws would impair freedom, are morally wrong, or otherwise are not a good idea, should proceed to the wild card debate room of this blog and let more practical freedom-loving patriots continue brainstorming.

    • July 17, 2012 1:44 am


      Once again saying something does not make it so. Even a majority of people believing it does not make it so.

      There have never been any long term successful monopolies or cartels absent government. Solving a problem that does not exist is just stupid. Doing so by harming both producers and consumers is worse.

      Do you really want to start an entirely new thread on anti-trust laws ?
      They have been both ludicrously stupid and ludicrously ineffective.
      There are based on economic models that were wrong when conceived and patently wrong now. Look up “perfect competition” and think seriously about how “homogenous products” apply in the real world – and is that really what producers seek (or should seek).

      The government currently regulates most large mergers and aquistions.
      Despite this the overwhelming majority fail – often within two years.
      Even with government permission it is had to create a monopoly

      I will be happy to agree that in some hypothetical world where monopolies and cartels ran rampant laws constraining them would be justified.

      But in the real world natural market forces destroy monopolies. Elsewhere Rick bemoaned the death of Kodak – that is how the market works, business are born grow and die.
      How many companies have remained in the fortune 500 for a decade ? Two ? Three ?
      How many companies can you name that are 50, 100 years old ?

      In 2008 we witnessed an event that should have destroyed most of the largest banks and two enormous auto companies. That is how markets work – either you are successful and make no mistakes or you die.

      Big businesses are more efficient, but they are also far less agile and more fragile.
      Continuously making extremely high quality decisions for decades is damn near impossible.

      An if it is so hard for businesses to do things right all the time, consider how much harder it must be for government which is much larger and devoid of most of the forces needed to drive it towards good decisions.

      There is probably some ideological libertarian argument against antitrust laws.
      But the practical one that they solve a problem that never existed, create problems that need not exist, and are based on a model of the marketplace which has little to do with the real world – and if you seriously think about it would be a really abysmal place.

      Do you really want 10 companies exactly the same size making only a single choice of breakfast cereal ?

      Further government routinely and deliberately on its own destroys its own model – willing nilly erecting barriers to entry

  33. pearows permalink
    July 16, 2012 10:49 pm

    The answer, Rick, is that the employees speak- and vote – for themselves. No one, to my knowledge, has ever said that “a corporation is a person.” A corporation is an association of people united for a specific business purpose…this is the context in which Mitt Romney originally said corporations are people, in answer to a question about ‘evil corporations’. The concept of “corporate personhood” is not political, it is legal, and refers to the concept that a corporation can be sued in court – and can sue in court – in the same way as a person can. As such, a corporation is granted certain legal rights, similar to rights granted to anyone under the law.

    As far a a corporation’s board being 90% Republican….well, what if it is 90% Democrat (as most unions are….oh, who am I kidding, thmost unions are 98% Democrat)? Not the point.

    Corporations can’t donate directly to candidates- indidviduals can.

    People can vote. Corporations can’t vote.

    The issue decided in Citizens United was whether the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law could bar corporations and unions from engaging in what they argued was political speech — producing and showing a movie on television that criticized a candidate for President or spending money for ads that supported or denounced that candidate. SCOTUS said that they could not be barred from doing that.

    • pearows permalink
      July 16, 2012 10:54 pm

      FWIW, I am not downplaying the problem of big money and corruption in politics. It is real. But this anti-corporate stuff is the wrong way to go. It is cronyism between corporations and government that is the problem.

      • July 17, 2012 12:32 am

        It is just the power of government. So long as that power exists months in one form or another will be drawn to it.

      • Anonymous permalink
        July 17, 2012 9:09 am

        While I agree with you and libertarians in theory on this point, Dave, I think it is too simplistic. In a perfect world, yes, but there is too much to be untangled and undone. Corporatism in politics has become entrenched and cannot be easily rolled back – on this, I agree with Rick, Jon and many of the others here. Where they go wrong, in my opinion, is in blaming corporatism on the free market and lack of government regulation (as if!) and in buying into the class warfare rhetoric that is used to energize political movements. On that point, you are on the money (again, pun intended :))

      • Pat Riot permalink
        July 17, 2012 11:53 am

        Perhaps I don’t communicate as clearly as I think I do. I certainly don’t intend to come across as anit-corporate.

        I’m even OK with some “mild cronyism” on a small scale, such as when one Pizza Hut worker gets his friend a job–that can sometimes be an advantage over hiring a total stranger, so there’s gray area at that petty level.

        On the other hand, when lobbyists are helping to get laws passed that benefit particular industries and particular companies, and NOT the common good (sometimes debatable, sometimes rather obvious) or the will of the people, then we need rules established. Not having rules can often “steal our freedom” much more than having rules. Moderation. Can have too many regulations. Can have not enough regulations.

    • July 17, 2012 12:17 pm

      Priscilla: Are you sure corporations aren’t allowed to contribute directly to candidates? If that’s true (and I’m assuming it is), there’s still the matter of corporate-sponsored media messsages. Again, the board (or whoever decides to allocate the funds) is presuming to speak for all employees and shareholders when it pays for political advertising. It doesn’t matter if the company is supporting a Republican or a Democrat; it still strikes me as presumptuous that they can use company funds without the consent of employees or shareholders.

      As for indirect corporate “contributions” (via lobbyists) to sitting politicians in exchange for favors, that’s a whole ‘nother problem… and all of us probably agree on that one.

      • pearows permalink
        July 17, 2012 6:54 pm

        Rick, I am certain that corporations cannot contribute directly to candidates for federal office. Many state election laws allow unions and corporations to contribute to local and state candidates…often referred to as “pay to play.” And, of course there are many organizations and PACs that support candidates and that can accept corporate contributions. Campaign finance law is tremendously complex and difficult to sort out. Despite the President’s frequent populist attacks on private campaign financing, he was the first major candidate to opt out of the public financing system after promising to to accept it. Apparently, the unregulated billions that he was raking in from his 527’s and bundlers from the corporate world were far too great to turn down, promise or no.

        More recently, having been outraised by Romney’s campaign over the last couple of months, Obama thinks money in politics is bad again, lol.

        But, kidding aside, and going back to my shoe company/Google example….if the owners and management of a business wish to advertise for or against issues, candidates and/or legislation, why shouldn’t they be able to? If Google’s anti-SOPA statement on it’s main page was not a political ad, I don’t know what it was. And I’m sure that the management of Google did not poll its employees to see if they all agreed. There were plenty of teachers who supported Scott Walker in Wisconsin, although, Lord knows, their unions didn’t. I don’t see where it is constitutional to restrict the speech of any organization.

        Now, lobbying? Pay to play? Bribery? Now you’re talking. My whole point is that attacking law abiding businesses is a distraction, created by politics and politicians to keep voters from seeing where the real corruption is.

      • July 17, 2012 7:07 pm

        Agreed, pearows. Ban corporate (for and non-profit) political contributions to or for (or against) candidates, elected officials, and political parties, to end the legal extortion and bribery, but do not infringe on the free speech and assembly rights of all these corporations.

        This is becoming the consensus solution of left, right, and center. It is a fine compromise. and passable, IMO, as a constitutional amendment.

      • July 17, 2012 10:00 pm

        The still-unanswered question is how a corporate entity presumes to “speak” on behalf of its employees and shareholders. A corporation is a collective body of people with a variety of opinions… how does the board simply decide, “Hey, whether you like it or not, we’re using XXX dollars of our revenues to run an ad for Romney”? Are they speaking for the Democrats in their ranks? Of course not. When we talk about corporate speech rights, do we simply mean the speech rights of the board (i.e., the corporation’s own “one percent”)?

        I think just about everyone would agree that any exchange of money for political favors should be banned… even criminalized as bribery. Just about the ony dissenters would be the legislators who benefit from special-interest gifts, and the lobbyists who give them. Congress will never outlaw this legalized form of bribery, so we’d have to depend on the Supreme Court or, as Jon suggested, a constitutional amendment.

        The problem with the latter course of action is that any such amendment has to be approved by (you guessed it) Congress — OR by a constitutional convention called by two-thirds of the state legislatures, which has occurred exactly 0 times in U.S. history. So while it’s not impossible to propose and ratify a constitutional amendment that rubs against the interests of Congress, it’s highly improbable.

        The other option would be to bring a lawsuit against Congress and present it to the Supreme Court. The 99% Declaration group is flirting with this option as it prepares to present its Petition for the Redress of Grievances to the three branches of government. It’s one of the key reasons behind my support of this group: they’re actually making use of a constitutional provision for challenging the government… virtually the only recourse we have at this point.

      • July 18, 2012 6:07 am

        The problem with the 99D is that instead of a singular focus on legalized graft it has turned into a laundry list of the liberal agenda. My strategy would be to establish independent third party polling to hopefully prove that a vast supermajority of Americans want it to stop and then find a group like the ACLU to file the petition.

        The last time an Article V was threatened was over electing Senators not appointing them. Congress caved because they were afraid what else the states might pass. Sounds like a workable strategy to me. I would call it hammer and nail.

      • pearows permalink
        July 18, 2012 9:29 am

        Well, the thing is, Rick, businesses and corporations have the goal of providing goods and services for a profit. The owners/shareholders/management generally come to agreement on the best way to accomplish this goal….and employees are paid to help them accomplish it. No employee is forced to work for a corporation, and, if an employee feels strongly at odds, let’s say, with the strategy or mission of a corporation, s/he is free to not accept its money. So, yeah, if I own that shoe company, and I decide that I want to run an ad against Democrat-proposed legislation that I believe will be harmful to my business, I don’t feel that my Democrat-voting employees need to be considered in my decision. I am not telling them how to vote. They can still go out and vote for the guys who might pass a law that will cause me to lay them off 😉 And they will still get paid.

      • pearows permalink
        July 18, 2012 9:48 am

        Jon, I had the same reaction to this declaration. It’s kind of a kitchen sink conglomeration. Puerto Rican statehood, more education funding, Congressional representation for DC…. it’s hard to support something as unfocused as that, especially if, as I do, one comes from the moderate right end of the political spectrum, where many of these grievances are simply not shared.

    • July 18, 2012 7:49 pm

      The Citizens United decision was fairly broad, but the actual case was about the effort of a a private political advocacy group organized as most groups are as a corporation, to produce and release a film about a political candidate.

  34. July 17, 2012 12:31 am

    Jon Denn

    “Apparently you think it wrong for citizens to study, have deliberation and dialogue in a formal process to make recommendations on solutions for the country’s problems. Why’s that?”

    I have no problems with people citizens or otherwise thinking, studying, acting, talking.

    I have a major problem when they conclude that the solution is to steal from others or deprive them of their rights.

    If govenrment acts in a way that would be immoral or criminal for an individual, then it is immoral or criminal as government. Getting 83% of people to agree to it does not somehow make theft moral.

    There is no voluntary act of individuals that I oppose, but I will oppose using force to compel or prohibit the voluntary non-violent acts of others.

  35. July 18, 2012 8:04 pm


    Libertarianism is an extremely simplistic political philosophy. It is not intended to answer every question or tell us how to solve every problem.

    All that it really does is tell us that solutions that come at the expense of freedom are immoral.

    Economics – particularly classical liberal economics tells is that solutions that come at the expense of freedom don’t work in the real world.

    The world is incredibly complex but there are alot of smart people in it. Still the “obvious” answer or the “smartest” answer to many problems often fails in the real world.
    Leaving people free allows many different alternatives to be tried and always a solution is found that works – usually many different solutions.
    When people are less free a single solution – we hope the product of the best and the brightest, but usually the one negotiated between numerous competing powerful special interests is imposed forcibly. When this actually works well it is pretty much by accident.

    Free people are not perfect they just eventually come to one or more good solutions.
    Government rarely does.

    Beyond that I really do not get why disentangling all special interests by simply reducing the power of government is some pie in the sky simplistic solution.
    Many things will go wrong – and they will be fixed. That is what free people do all the time.

    I will be happy to agree that it is not possible to have a powerful government and not have numerous entrenched entanglements with powerful special interests.

    Aside from the fact that CC 2.0 attempts to reach good ends through bad means, it is also just playing a giant game of wack-a-mole.
    If CC 2.0 suceeds, all that will happen is powerful special interests will find another means of corrupting government.

    Powerful government wants to be corrupted.

  36. Anonymous permalink
    July 19, 2012 9:09 am

    Libertarianism is an extremely simplistic political philosophy.

    2.54 million words later, reality at last.

    • July 20, 2012 12:25 pm


    • July 21, 2012 9:44 pm

      Your freedom ends with initiating violence against others.

      8 words.

      What is not simple and requires far more than 2.54million words is the real world.
      Libertarianism is the only philosophy that is not broken by the complexity of the real world or human beings.

  37. AMAC permalink
    July 19, 2012 11:17 am

    I am fine with corporations, unions, private business, etc. directly producing commercials. The business or organization that produces the piecce should have a disclaimer at the end to inform the viewers who is responsible for the piece. I think that the market would take care of a business making wild or inflamatory claims. It is a dangerous practice alienating customers. What needs to happen is prevention of direct contribution, and transparency on contributions. A business shouldn’t be able to fund a PAC and then be off the hook for the PAC’s activities. If the commercial is labled, “Paid for by the (insert name) committee” it should also be additionally labled funded by (insert major contributers).

    Also, while the subject is raised, companies do try to influence their employees and investors politically in various circumstances when the company’s interest is involved. I don’t know that this could be regulated. Many companies send communications to their employees about specific legislation, political activities, letter writting campaigns, etc. Propaganda is prevelant. Most people can see through the message when it is superficial. I am sure it does influence some, but probably turns just as many against the message.

    I wish simply joining voices and being heard would work for most issues. Unfortunately, I have never been apart of a succesful movement. I have been active in letter campaigns of republican, democrat, and non-partisan origins (when I believe in the issue). I have been a part of petitions and other similar activities as well. Out of the 10 or 12 activities I was a part of, none were successful, despite huge amounts of support in 5 or 6 of those. Having personally met with 2 HOR memebes from my state on a few issues, they worry about how they are percieved rather than what they actually believe on the specific issue. This leads me to the same issue I always bring up about term limits. Many of the same politicians that support term limits (publicly at least) do not even enforce limits on their own term in congress. In my state, there is often not a viable democrat candidate, so I find myself working within the Republican party more often. However, I have not received any better outcomes with the Democrats at the national level.

    • July 19, 2012 6:48 pm


      Most of what you are offering is quit reasonable. I would note that it is far less than McCain Feingold or DISCLOSE.

      I still have some questions/issue.

      Do you expect corporations to disclose the names of their shareholders ?
      If you don’t then you have just blessed SuperPAC’s.
      If you do you are likely to run afoul of an unbeleivable amount of established law and constitutional interpretation.

      Regarding corporate responsibility. The reason that SCOTUS found corporations to be people something like 175 years ago, is because it was already decided that shareholders have no responsibility beyond losing their stock for the actions of a corporation – unless they are actively involved in running it. The purpose of corporate personhood was to hold the corporation liable for its actions – because law only has jurisdiction over people – not things or other animals Are you seeking to hold corporations responsible inside the same legal context we have used for more than a century – or are you proposing something else.

      At the same time I question the value of any of this.
      I just saw an anti-romney add.
      Regardless of who produced, funded it, the allegations are either true or false.
      Even evaluating them from the relative framework of a given persons values, they either agree with my values or don’t. What valuable information is added by knowing that it was funded by an ObamaPAC and specifically who its contributors are ?

      I can actually see where if it was funded by the Obama campaign – which he purportedly exercises control over and whose activities reflect on his suitability as a president that might matter.

      In all other cases, I do not see how you gain anything of real value in return for serious complexity, as well as sacrificing the right to anonymity in political speech which is also a recognized constitutional right – and something practiced even by our founding fathers.
      The Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers were published under pseudonyms. Only the accident of Hamilton’d death in the duel with Burr and the release of some of hamilton’s papers provided us with the actual authors – and even then the evidence is pretty strong that Hamilton deliberately or accidentally got many wrong.

      Regardless some of the most important political rhetoric in US history was published under Pseudonyms.

      • AMAC permalink
        July 20, 2012 11:45 pm


        I would not see the need to list the names of the owners and shareholders as long as it is not a a fake “sister” company producing. If the company’s actual name, then they will be held accountable for their speech by either the market, or the shareholders (in case of a public company). The management committee can make decisions without direct board approval. If the board did not approve, they can recommend of force removal of that decision maker and produce an apology if need be.


        I know I sound cynical, because I am. That does not mean I quit trying. I just fired off a few emails to my Senator (Cornyn). I was sent a communication on his behalf. The first line is, “President Obama believes individual success is a gift from the government.” Regardless if it makes a difference, I respond to both parties regarding brainless propaganda. I do think that joining forces is neccessary to accomplish the goals mentioned. I also think it can be done. I would not be opposed to a “New Moderate” letter writing campaign for specific, focused action. We could question our delegates specific views on political contributions, share the results on this blog, and focus an effort. Just because I have not had individual success, does not mean I will quit! Maybe a bi-monthly campaign? Maybe we could petition others to join the specific effort? I would like to focus on a specific action (2 term limit, etc) rather than a list of demands like the one we have discussed.

      • July 21, 2012 10:19 pm


        I think you will find that much of what you think you want – and more already exists.

        Management is already answerable to corporate boards, boards are answerable to shareholders. And public corporations have to report much more than just political contributions quarterly.

        SuperPACs receive negligible corporate contributions – because candidates have no means of knowing who contributed to SuperPACs and no control over them.

        Corporations give approximately equally to both parties and their candidates, with minor variations from election to election.
        Often contributing the same amount to each candidate.
        Big corporations tend to favor democrats, small ones tend to favor republicans.

        I have no idea how you can define “fake sister company” without prohibiting things most of us consider legitimate.

        I am cynical about many things too.

        To the extent government has power, “special interests” will find some way to leverage that power to its own benefit. In the unlikely event you could completely dis-empower corporate influence – which is not actually a good outcome, a different interest would move in.

        The means our founders chose to rein in political corruption was not to limit special interests, but to set them against each other. To allow almost any special interest the ability to stop whatever another attempted.
        They created a government far more limited than we have today, but even the power they viewed as necessary, they hamstrung.

        While I have argued that restrictions on speech are unconstitutional, and that anything that reduces liberty is immoral.
        There is also the practical argument we have never successfully legislated good better government by increasing its power Our record of cleaning up government by most any means is pretty abysmal.

    • July 20, 2012 12:45 pm

      AMAC: I’ve probably talked about this before, but the reason so many of these well-intentioned efforts fail is because they don’t join forces with other, similar efforts. So instead of one large and well-organized group that aims to drive money out of politics, we have a mind-boggling patchwork of small, underfunded groups (I’ve used the analogy of Germany with its dozens of petty states before 1870). Each is headed by someone with a strong ego who’s certain that his or her own organization is the answer. Some lean right or left (or center), but their goals are essentially the same: to reform our corrupt democracy and drive Big Money out of politics.

      You wouldn’t believe the number of such groups out there right now. I really should write to them and ask them to pool their resources… but I have a feeling that not a single leader would want to surrender his own leadership position (and the ego-gratification that goes along with it).

      Where’s Bismarck when we need him? I should study how he managed to unite all those petty German states.

      • July 20, 2012 5:45 pm


        Please think long and hard about what you have written.
        You are essentially making my case for me.
        That what you believe in will not succeed absent large scale force.

        Bismark may have unified Germany, but he also was instrumental in World War I, and it is probable that Hitler could not have achieved power without Bismark’s blessing.

        The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

      • July 20, 2012 7:11 pm

        I know what you’re saying, but believe me — I’d have no intention of using force to push these reforms through. I’m against coercion of any kind. What I meant is that it seems futile to have a couple of dozen weak, underfunded reform groups essentially duplicating each other’s efforts and getting nowhere.

        Example: There were just two key groups behind the civil rights movement of the ’50s and ’60s: the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the NAACP. (Yes, there were also the Black Panthers and other fringe groups, but they didn’t accomplish much.) And what if there had been dozens of local pro-independence groups in the 1770s instead of the original, well-coordinated Continental Congress that met in Philadelphia? We might still be bickering over our goals today.

      • July 21, 2012 7:46 am

        I agree, Rick, I use the line “we reformers have already reached critical mass to achieve meaningful change, we just won’t work together.” The logical first rallying point in my opinion is ending the legal extortion and bribery of elected officials. Other aspects of money out of politics starts losing the fragile left, right, center coalitions.

      • July 23, 2012 1:59 pm

        Jon: I agree that ending the legalized bribery now prevalent in government is the number one priority… and the ideal “lowest common denominator” for gaining widespread support across the political spectrum. The only people in favor of the current corrupt system are the elected representatives and the lobbyists who benefit from it.

  38. Anonymous permalink
    July 21, 2012 12:23 am

    Successful reform movements tend to unite, not divide. A problem with this 99D is that it is a divisive document that blames an entire class of people – real people who are, for the most part, law-abiding, patriotic, and hardworking- for problems that are rooted in a corrupt system. It essentially says that, if you are a banker, a mortgage lender, a stock broker, or just a garden variety successful businessman, you are responsible for the suffering of the 99%….and, by the way, if you don’t support a bunch of other things in this list, you are also a bad guy.

    The Civil RIghts movement united blacks and whites. Many of the Founding Fathers were wealthy. It was not that long ago that the country was nearly unanimous in its mourning and praise for Steve Jobs, a fantastically wealthy man.

    I think that people could unite behind a reform movement that is anti-corruption. Anti-money is not gonna cut it…. there are plenty of decent rich people – and plenty of decent not-so-rich people who are trying to become rich. No matter how you wordsmith it, the 99% vs the 1% is divisive, based solely on a person’s wealth or income, not on their character or behavior.

    • July 23, 2012 1:57 pm

      I agree that the use of “99%” and “1%” is needlessly divisive (and not even accurate… the real ruling class in this country probably amounts to a tenth of one percent). Some of the people at the 99% Declaration rally made a point of saying that they’re really concerned about the “100%” — in other words, purifying the system so that it’s reasonably fair to everyone.

  39. July 21, 2012 4:33 pm


    If you beleive in any government then you beleive in coercion. Except for anarcho-capitolists we all beleive in coercion to some extent. The only question is what are the limits of coercion. For me and libertarians, it is limited to preventing anyone from initiating the use of force against another – “the rule of law”.

    Hoping for some unifying leader in a form similar to Bismark is not much of a limit to coercion.

    You continue to push this mythical version of our founders as unified, dignified and polite – and apparently well funded.

    I can not recall a good idea failing for lack of funds, nor a bad one succeeding from a surfeit of money.

    “We reformers” have failed because class warfare no matter how well disguised has always been a recipe for failure. If you wish to improve your own life – do so – yourself through your own efforts. Do so by creating something that others value. Real measurable value that others will pay for in a free marketplace. Outside government few get rich as parasites. Ultimately wealth has to be created, and I have greater respect for the person who has earned a billion or even a million as they had to make life better for alot of people to do so. Warren Buffet is responsible for the creation of more Jobs and more wealth than Pres. Obama and the entire congress.

    • July 23, 2012 1:52 pm

      You’re right that the main issue is about the acceptable limits of coercion. It’s a hazy boundary, but you’ve accepted that some degree of coercion is necessary if we’re to have the rule of law in society. That said, I don’t see why you would object to presenting the government with a petition of grievances, most of which center around the notion that government shouldn’t be bought by the highest bidders. How does this qualify as class warfare?

      If it were up to me, I’d press the “reset” button so that plutocrats can’t enjoy a huge advantage over the rest of us in terms of leverage in government or the ability to evade taxes through loopholes and tax shelters. I’d impose regulations… not to snarl honest business activity, but to prevent our financial wizards from siphoning money out of the middle class through unfair banking practices (e.g., excessive fees and credit card interest) and devious manipulation (e.g., shorting investments they sell to their own clients).

      It’s a rigged system, Dave. As a moderate, I don’t want to rig it in favor of the poor or even the middle class. I just don’t want it to be rigged at all… and I think we need to take action to “unrig” it.

  40. July 21, 2012 4:46 pm

    On the day that class warfare works, we can close up shop and go home. The country will be done. The French revolution shows us the wonders of class warfare – and resulted in Napoleon. unless you prefer Lenin or Mao.

    This is still the country where no matter how poor your birth you can aspire to great wealth. This is still the country where most of us move up two qunitles during our lives.
    Only a tiny percent of us accomplish a rags to riches dream – though very little wealth in this country is acquired through inheritance, regardless, most of us aspire to as much as we can, and nearly all of us get far beyond our roots.

    Prof. Mankiw’s early chart is terrifying, because what it demonstrates is that our safetynet has evolved into a trap, and is ensnaring far to many of us.

    If you want to remain poor for life – take government assistance, go on disability, …
    You can trade whatever dreams you have – and the risks that go with them for the absolute security of permanent government sustained poverty. But one you take the bait you are trapped forever.

    The most heinous class warfare in this country is that inflict by affluent progressives in the form of public assistance.

    • July 23, 2012 1:39 pm

      I’ve always felt that the “progressive” welfare policies initiated under Lyndon Johnson have kept America’s poor (and especially inner-city blacks) ensnared in an endless repeating loop of low expectations, disintegrating family life and poverty. But guess what, Dave… the upward mobility enjoyed by ordinary working class and middle class Americans since World War II is history now.

      Look around you: young people are emerging from college with staggering debts and few employment prospects… Americans over 50 probably have a greater chance of being mugged than finding jobs commensurate with their abilities and experience. Jobs are being outsourced to Asia with impunity, and the wealthiest Americans are stashing their loot in foreign tax havens instead of letting it “trickle down” to help everyone else rise in the world. The heady days of upward mobility are a closed book now, my friend… at least for the foreseeable future.

      • July 28, 2012 2:33 pm

        Why do you think upward mobility is history ?
        More people are going to college than ever before.
        Unemployment among those with any kind of education that would allow them to be productive – engineering, medicine, all sorts of 2 and 4 year technical degrees is just about as low as it has ever been. Even in the midst of this mess, unemployment among those with the education needed to be productive has barely budged.

        Just because you here things in the media or from politicians does not make it true.

        We have a tremendous and continuing shortage of technical people in pretty much every occupation.
        Companies like catapillar are funding technical schools and subsidizing technical training because they can not get the people they need for these types of jobs.

        Our unemployment is almost exclusively in less productive areas.
        Unskilled labor, entry level positions and the like.
        If you are a young black male without a high school degree your future prospects are abysmal.

        If you have graduated from any of the myriads of 2-4 year technical schools in this country – most of which are extremely cheap, you are solidly in the middle class and your future prospects are good.

        If you have a professional degree in engineering or related productive fields your job is secure and your prospects are excellent.

        We have numerous problems with the cost of education.
        Public subsidies both to basic and higher education have done nothing but increase its costs.

        But it is still true that an education focused on a filed that is clearly going to be productive is an excellent investment – regardless of what it costs.

        A degree from MIT may be egregiously expensive – but the lifetime payback dwarfs the cost, and if you are cheap – try Georgia Tech or some place like that, your loan costs should be no greater than that of a new car. Or go to a 2 or 4 year technical school – which will cost about what a used car costs.

        You keep ranting all this outsourcing, anti-immigrant, tax haven stuff.
        Even if it was true – which it is not, it is mostly crap.

        Bastiat demonstrated conclusively almost two centuries ago that it is idiotic to believe you can achieve prosperity by regulating the flow of anything in or out of a region.

        If this false fixation on border conditions were not false, then we should not allow people to go out of state for college, or vacations, we should not allow businesses to move into or out of our towns. We should produce everything we need in our own back yard.

        Ignoring the fact that life is just not zero sum, that a job headed to china is an opportunity for a better job here, that this entire anti-trade, anti-outsourcing, anti-foreign tirade is built on an incredibly stupid fallacy

        It is also not happening.

        China is currently in trouble. They will likely recover, but manufacturing jobs particularly heavy manufacturing jobs are moving to the US.

        Particular types of jobs migrate throughout the world where overall conditions are best.

        The US still has the most highly skilled workforce in the world.
        Production that requires those skills migrates here.
        The US has abundant resources and the worlds cheapest and most reliable energy. These are critical to modern production.
        We have the best transportation system in the world – no one else is even close.
        We are 1/3 of the worlds market. Wherever something is made there is a 1 in 3 chance it will be sold here. Production is cheapest nearest its market.

        Airbus just opened a plant in the south. Why ? Because that is where the cheapest highly skilled labor in the world is. Because the US is the largest market for their product.

      • July 28, 2012 2:45 pm

        I welcome all competition – including tax competition.

        If the US wants money invested in this country – they need to make this country attractive to investment.

        i want every country to be competing to see which can provide the best environment for production and investment.

        If switzerland or the cayman islands can provide the best return on an investment – then they should be receiving the most money.

        The greatest return on investment means the most productive use of money.

        I want money used productively.

        You are ranting about “stashing loot”. The rich only “stash loot” when there is no other reasonable choice.

        Money will always get invested where it produces the greatest return – and therefore the most benefit to the rest of us.

        Government either through high taxes, bad law and regulation or worse through uncertainty can drive investment elsewhere, but conditions have to be abysmally bad for it to just get “stashed”

        The Cayman islands or wherever does not provide a good return on investment magically. Whereever it is “stashed” it is put to work.
        It is still “trickling down”, just not where you would prefer it to.

        If you want to change where money is invested you have to make yourself more attractive.

        The US is still just about the lowest risk place to invest in the world.
        But we continue to impair our return, as europe and other nations have lowered their taxes – particularly corporate taxes, we have become less and less attractive. We are the only nation in the world that taxes money earned outside the country – no other nation does that. It is just plain stupid.

      • July 28, 2012 2:47 pm

        Look arround the United States. Those states with the lowest taxes and the least regulations are for the most part the least impacted by this mess.
        They have the strongest and growing economies.

        If this works for the states why would you expect it to be different outside the US ?

  41. July 22, 2012 8:12 pm

    How do you compare with other americans on the issues ?

    For reference my views had a 94% match against Gary Johnson – no surprise there.
    But an 83% match against all the 835,000 people who have taken this survey.
    A 71% match against Romney and a 51% match against Obama.

    So can the rest of you so called “moderates” manage to align better with the majority ?

    • July 22, 2012 8:38 pm

      Interesting — the candidate I matched most with was Mitt Romney (76%), but the second highest match was with Barack Obama (72%)! I never would have expected that I matched Obama on so many issues, but it’s clear that my support for Romney is justified. Meanwhile, all the other candidates I had lower matches with, so, at least this year, there would be no third party candidate for me.

      • July 22, 2012 9:14 pm

        I think they have some problems with there matching – I purportedly matched Obama on Social and Immigration issues.
        At best I disagree with him less than Romney on some of those issues.
        Further shared empathy for a less fortunate group is not the same as agreement on policy.

        I think there are many problems with this survey, regardless it is interesting and absent subtleties may capture current american political norms.

        I doubt that Johnson could defeat Obama head to head – though this survey sugests it would be a landslide. It also sugests that our votes are driven by more than issues.

        At the same time many polls from several months ago had Ron Paul leading Obama head to head.

        I think it is reasonable to conclude from this and numerous issue polls that solely on the issues, Americans are far more libertarian than either party suspects.

        I would also note that Johnson is fairly “hard core” libertarian – probably more so than Ron Paul. And that on the issues alone absent political labels, party, or personality, the majority of americans align their values
        strongly with hard core libertarians – or atleast the majority of those polled here (a pretty large number).

        These views do NOT align with those of “moderates” here which are mostly just progressive lite. But atleast unlike most progressives they are mostly civil about having their values challenged.

        I hold my views because I have concluded they are right – actually disprove some critical element and I will be compelled to rethink them. I would hope others applied the same scrutiny to their views. I am happy to discover that a large portion of Americans share those views, but it would not alter my views if I were alone.

        I am disturbed because the “moderates” hear seem to desperately seek comfort in numbers, creating majorities that do not exist, or fixating on issues where they have the support of a majority – but only weak support for vague views.

  42. Carla permalink
    August 28, 2012 3:45 am

    I’m here because I’m sick of all the political rhetoric. But I find it interesting that a self proclaimed moderate doesn’t make the distinction between a republic and a democracy. I searched the comments and didn’t notice anyone else making the distinction either. It’s almost impossible to speak out about the injustices and failures of the two party system without noting that the two part system is, in it’s very essence, a perfect democracy. Democracy, if I am not mistaken, is when the majority rules and the other 49.9% or less are left without a voice. It is the republic that we have lost. In a republic, the idea is that each individual has power through the representation he or she votes for. So, you correctly spoke up for the ideals of getting back to a nation that has more than two polar choices, but I think you incorrectly labeled it, therefore trying to defend the very thing you have spoken against. It tends to cause confusion. Good blog from what I’ve read so far otherwise.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: