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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like… Corruption

Mike Spahr
United Re:public / News Report
Published: Saturday 8 December 2012
The corruption in government becomes apparent as congresspeople leave the Hill to get jobs as influence peddlers.
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It’s about that time of year again. Now that the elections are over, ex-congresspeople are in need of new forms of employment, and some congressmen and women are leaving the Hill for other jobs in Washington. One of the most prominent forms of “job security” (or as we call it, corruption) isthe promise of a high paying position after leaving congress. This fall back option implies an obligation for congresspeople to vote favorably on legislation that will affect their future employer. Many of the places where these ex-legislators are headed will be K Street and to other influence peddlers. Politico reports on a few of these cases, citing:

Retiring Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) will join Duke Energy early next year as senior vice president of federal affairs. Rep. Jason Altmire, a Pennsylvania Democrat who lost his primary, is joining insurer Florida Blue as a government affairs executive. Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky.), who resigned July 31, will form a public affairs firm, Republic Consulting, with lobbyist Hunter Bates.

Headhunters are excited about several lawmakers who lost election bids this month or left, including Reps. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) and Connie Mack (R-Fla.), former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Republican Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno.

Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas), who did not run for reelection, says he’s in the final running for a position at a San Antonio-based company that would have him overseeing government relations and public relations, among other things.

Politico further reports that:

Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) today said she’s doing an about face and leaving Congress in February to become chief executive officer of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

And finally, the Washington Post reports that:

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) will leave the U.S. Senate next year to become president of the Heritage Foundation, succeeding Edwin Feulner, who first co-founded the conservative think tank in 1973 and has served as president for the past 36 years.

Unfortunately, this practice is as legal as it is commonplace. When lawmakers enjoy (on average) a 1452% raise between their jobs, it’s difficult to say exactly where their allegiances lay or when these employment deals were made. This is not a holiday tradition that has shown any signs of stopping unless some type of action is taken. In order to close the revolving door between congresspeople and the special interests that fund them, the American people must hold them accountable and force them to Represent.Us.

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ABOUT Mike Spahr

Michael Spahr is an intern at United Republic who recently moved to Amherst, MA in order to further pursue work in campaign finance reform and transparency in government. He is currently finishing a major in Pre-Law at the University of Massachusetts, while continuing to do social justice and advocacy work.

Suegie and all. Recognize two

Suegie and all. Recognize two things: All our major planetary and national problems are caused by corporations. When i say corporations, don't think it means the larger, smarter, wiser group of non-emotive collective intelligence that will outperform the thought process and decision making skills of a mere human person. That is the paradigm that is implied in our society.

Reality is that all those uber-rich suits from the parasitic economy class (1%er so called "elite") who make all those corporate decisions for their personal greed. Many of their decisions are provably psychopathic.

Step into awareness that corporations and govt have differing functions, goals, processes, constraints, and legitimacy. As such it immediately becomes apparent that to have a corporate executive appointed to a govt slot (34 Monsanto/subsidiary employees alone) is inimical to the interests of the general electorate. Their purpose is to make their corporation/industry more wealth and more influential. That is antagonistic to what a govt should be doing.

Since both parties have traded power since literally 1804, and both have the same 20 or so Wall St donors, both parties have sold out to the rich parasitic class. This means we have a business directed/controlled govt. This is literally defined as Fascist. Welcome to the UNazied States of America.

To elect/reelect the same two major parties when they implement and legislate our political problems, yet expect these same parties to be a solution to the problems which they themselves create is not simply insane, but very, very stupid.

It is too late for this cycle, but we MUST vote for anyone other than rape-public-again or democrap candidates who with VERY RARE exceptions are not worth pissing on if they are on fire. This is the only way to change the political conversation.

Romney made Ron Paul noises because so many people ignored the agreed upon set of problems and supported aspects of what RP said. If enough people vote against the two parties, even if they get their persons elected they have to notice that an increasingly large group of people are not playing their game, not satisfied with their agenda/distractions, and don't support them. That HAS TO worry them.

If we foolishly believe that either the dems or reps are the lesser evil and vote for them, they do not register the disenchantment, and in essence you've bought into their agenda, supported their plan.

Having our "politicians" jump ship (or get thrown overboard) and have them land in corporateland proves how business controls our govt. Illuminates how we have socialized the corporate structure. These people while in govt write the rules and laws that give tax breaks, exemptions, subsidies, (really, petry needs to have billions of bucks in subsidies as they make record profits selling OUR national resources? Then when we are actually out of NG and Petro they will rape us and get richer as they import the very resource they just sold out from under us.) Tax returns even when they don't pay US taxes.

Reps/Dems are simply flip sides of the same coin in a rich man's pocket. Both have to go. Separation of church and state is pretty important, but is it as important as separation of business and state?

So then the only real long

So then the only real long term solution to ending corruption in governemnt is to get the people out of politics. Trained monkeys would probably be more reliable until monkey 'A' "learns" that he/she will get more bananas for scratching monkey 'B's back instad of doing task Q. But if monkey 'A' recieved a painful electric shock every time he/she attempted to scratch monkey 'B's back, monkey 'A' would stick to task Q for getting bananas.
Time to train our monkeys.

This article gives the lie to

This article gives the lie to two common assumptions by Americans, progressive or otherwise: (1) Corruption and ‘money in politics’ exist because of the costs of election campaigns, and (2) Therefore we can ‘get money out of politics’ - drastically reduce corruption - by publicly financing election campaigns.
(Aside on point (2): many folks nowadays wrongly imagine that a campaign has to cost a fortune and that a spent fortune will guarantee victory. Yes, campaigns are now free to solicit and waste donated fortunes, but nowadays – thanks to Internet - many elective offices require ever less real cost per voter to run a truly effective campaign. Successful Internet-based campaigns – like Obama’s – can be almost self-financing. They neither need nor will get much help from ‘public finance’ setups which – in interests of formal fairness or fiscal responsibility – inevitably impose complex reporting requirements and perhaps arbitrary limits on spending or other activity.)

Point (1) is a case of confusing cost and value. Your cost to acquire a powerful office (elective of appointed) need have nothing to do with the value to you of your holding that office. That’s because that latter value owes not to campaigning nor to its costs but to something else entirely: the inherent power of the office to make or highly influence public policy decisions – decisions on laws, regulations, budgets, etc.

If your office has sufficient decision power, some folks will find it profitable to make you a sufficiently attractive offer to ‘buy’ some of that power from you; and you may well find it profitable to ‘sell’ it to them. Contrary to points (1) and (2), THIS is the driving reason for ‘money in politics’, alias ‘corruption’.

Given sufficient decision power concentrated in your office, corruption will be attractive to both you and the corrupter. That’s precisely the message of Lord Acton’s too-often overlooked but famous – and correct and cogent – epigram (1887): ‘Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’

In more detail: Suppose that the profitability of a business enterprise will depend mightily on a sequence of favorable government decisions whose direction will be dominated by just you and a few others. Then it will be profitable for the enterprise manager to arrange to share attractive amounts of the resulting profits with each of you few whose cooperation is needed.

As this article evidences, the payoff to you can occur after, as well as before or during, your tenure of office. The form of payoff can vary through a range of possibilities, including: campaign contributions, donations to your favorite charity or cause, hiring of you or family or relatives or friends as lobbyists or other sorts of ‘consultants’, etc.

So many are the payoff pathways, it strikes me that the most effective approach against corruption is not to enact complex regulations against a huge and never complete laundry list of pathways, but simply to heed Acton’s basic implication: don’t allow the concentration of decision power!

Today’s oligarchy promotes corruption by concentrating public policy decision power. To effectively fight and prevent corruption, what is needed is to de-concentrate that power. In place of relatively few big decisions, each given to a few long-term high officials, we could make public policy by many small decision steps, each given over to a separate short-term jury of ordinary citizens. Yes, we could use genuine participatory democracy rather than oligarchy!

Dear Suegie. It is simple to

Dear Suegie. It is simple to fix. Just take the money out of politics. Click on or copy and paste into your browser (also, see my response above from Grandma In WA.)

How can anyone say or even

How can anyone say or even think that it is beginning to sound like corruption. Our government was corrupt for 8 years because Bush and Cheney distorted our federal tax code to favor the corporations that outsourced American jobs and granted the richest American citizens tax breaks that they did not ask for. In addition, they caused the Iraq war based on contrived information that Weapons of Mass Destruction existed in that country. In addition there was the Afghanistan debacle. Both of these wars were conducted on money borrowed from China and the real purpose of them was to continue uninterrupted importation to the US of crude oil from the Mideast countries so that Exxon and the other four big US oil companies could continue to enjoy their massive profits and exorbitant tax breaks. Cheney’s Halliburton made enormous profits from their participation in these wars. All of this was not enough for their greed. So they refused to enforce financial regulations and that resulted in the billions of dollars of fraudulent Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS’s) assembled by Goldman Sachs that were sold to unsuspecting investors and banks all over the world. Of course as we all know as soon as it was discovered that these MBS’s were made up mostly of mortgages that were destined to be foreclosed on our big banks had to be bailed out with tax payer money. (To throw salt in our wounds, Goldman Sachs shorted the MBS investment packages as soon as they were sold and made a really big bundle of dough on their failure.) So the debts incurred from two unnecessary wars plus the financial crash resulting from fraudulent investment packages plus the horrendous tax breaks given to the very rich plus the outsourcing of American jobs that destroyed our middle class all adds up and the sum total resulted in the near depression and still existing recession we have been experiencing since 2008.
So in addition to the foregoing, where are we now? Let me put it this way: I am 78 years old and from when I was only four years old I remember my father saying "Money talks"! Of course that was only a colloquialism of the time that meant exclusively “You can get what you want if you paid enough money for it!” However, now that I am a mature, well educated and experienced adult, I know the difference between speech and money. However, our current Supreme Court Justice Scalia (who naively took the old colloquial expression literally) has ruled that "money is speech". This gross distortion coupled with another of his gross distortions; i.e., "Corporations are people" has encouraged and made legal an infinite amount of money (that could total billions of dollars or more) that U.S. Corporations can contribute to U.S. elected members of our U.S. Congress to assure adoption of their preferred policies and legislation. Our Supreme Court voted that their action is protected by our Constitution’s freedom of speech proviso. As a result, the Corporations' massive amounts of money funneled through an inordinately large number of lobbyists to our members of Congress "speaks" so loudly that the voices of ordinary U.S. citizens are not heard or ignored by our elected Representatives and Senators. This is not Democracy (government by the people). It is a form of Plutocracy (government by the wealthy). This is the insidious compelling and all powerful force that is the real problem causing the gridlock we have been experiencing in our U.S. Congress. I respectfully submit that nothing is going to improve in Washington D.C. until this crippling situation is changed. And, the ONLY way it can be changed is to take the money out of American politics. To make this change, because our Supreme Court approved what Justice Scalia maintains, we must amend our U.S. Constitution. The basic Amendment is set forth in - so click on this link or paste it into your browser and see if you would like to sign the petition. Enough signatures are needed to get a two thirds vote in both our House of Representatives and Senate. Again -

Mr. Spahr seems to be taking

Mr. Spahr seems to be taking a radically cynical position. After all, the good men and women who go into career politics did not wake up one morning and decide to sell out their countrymen, and thus their souls, for money.

Rarely, do we see a politician so obtuse as to utter untenable comments ( ok Romney's 47% comes to mind and it has happened) which cannot be supported by one articulated rationale or another.

Sure, as an example of misguided legislation which championed the cause of special interest groups, causing millions of Americans to suffer grave economic and medical hardship each year, one can site the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005.

But, Mr. Spahr, was there really ANY other way to reduce the abuse by debtors which created the imminent destruction of the Banking industry?

Clearly, the argument of the congresspeople pushing for a respite for bankers from the consequences of insolvency of those who have been enticed by the public relations industry to overextend financially, has sufficient factual basis that, were conspiring with prospective employers to breach their sworn and fiduciary obligation to the American people actually criminalized, no jury of right minded people could, in good faith, ever find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that our beloved congresspeople had the intent to do anything but act in the best interests of the nation by enacting that legislation.

All that said, please allow me to post a question I have not seen posted anywhere before:

Were such deal making, and tacit sell outs of America by a number of the less ethical folks in Congress, made actionable ( i.e. subject to civil suit for monetary damages, injunction and/or counsel fees and costs), might a jury find that, "Well, yup, it does seem that it is more likely than not that Congressman Slick actually was on the make and the take for the money"?

Bottom few lines: If we were to ask the question: "What is going on in the minds of these congresspeople when they advance, and vote for, legislation that benefits the rich and powerful and special interests groups who employ them and donate to their campaigns, while at the same time taking income, buying power and/or civil rights away from the vast majority of their constituency and all Americans?", wouldn't most of us figure out that it is "more probably true than not" ( the legal standard for civil liability), that these congresspeople sold us out for the purpose of their own gain?

Stripped of immunity and privilege, would we not more clearly see the blatant and audacious naked greed of these self promoting sell-outs?

Send in the Marines! They

Send in the Marines! They WILL be welcomed as liberators!

Crime PAYS!

Crime PAYS!

And these folks CONTINUE to

And these folks CONTINUE to collect a nice retirement check, paid by "we the people". Only in the good ol' USA....oh, wait, I mean only in DC/USA. None of us could ever do that. How do we FIX this??

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