Your Vote Has Power (Eh, Not Really)
by Chris Campbell
First the Banks, Now the Monopolies: How the power has shifted in the past 80 years…
A short quote from Carroll Quigley’s book Tragedy and Hope…“The system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion," he wrote in the '60s, "by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements, arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences.”
Many of those within the cartel, Carroll hedged, were “much divided, often fought among themselves, had great influence but not control of political life and were sharply reduced in power about 1931-1940, when they became less influential than monopolized industry.” Though cited by many, no way anyone can accuse Quigley of being a dirty conspiracy theorist. He played it safe enough to skim the surface.
And now, several decades later, we’re here. Sure, the central banks are fighting. But now the monopolized industry is a bit too chummy. And it’s imperative we understand how the cronyism works on the ground level.
New information is slipping into the mainstream. And the cronies are becoming a hot topic in the collective consciousness. We may even reach a “tipping point” where the true relationship between your average Corporate Shill and Uncle Sammy’s checkbook becomes common knowledge.
“Maybe my concept of "capitalism" is entirely different from yours,” David M. wrote calmly before he went on to intermittently shout at us: “In my understanding of true capitalism, a real, true free market exists WITHOUT THE ABILITY OF GOVERNMENT TO INTERFERE OR INTERVENE except when a crime is committed or about to be committed. “So-called "crony capitalism" [in which cronies have unique, special access to government administrators or legislators who have the ability to grant favors] does not fit my understanding of free-market capitalism. “Since the market is not truly "free" when government agents can affect or influence the outcome, a requirement for real, true capitalism has not been met. Therefore what we really have is "crony collectivism/socialism". [And let's not neglect Fascism which drives Obamacare - ED}
“Why give the left every opportunity to smear individualists, free-marketeers, entrepreneurs, and other freedom lovers? “Don't let them continue to make the rules and "control the playing field." It always end up smearing free markets and individualists. “PLEASE STOP CALLING IT "CRONY CAPITALISM,"” David belts, finally letting loose, “WHEN SOMEONE GAINS SPECIAL FAVORS BY USING GOVERNMENT CONNECTIONS. “CALL IT WHAT IT IS: Crony Collectivism."
Whatever you want to call it, it’s here. America has officially legalized corruption and made it the preferred way of moving your money and dictating your movements. And according to a recent study that just popped out of Princeton, there’s really nothing your vote can do to sway the legislation either way.
(Gee, who’da thunk?)
Two researchers at Princeton University recently pored over 20 years of data to answer. The study, as all good ones should, began with a question. A silly one. But a question, nonetheless:
“Does the government represent the people?”
Pulling from over 1,800 different policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, Princeton researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page revealed that the American people… surprise!... have very little power in the land o’ the free. Those freedoms they hold most dear, like voting, might, in fact, be simple smokescreens.
“The central point that emerges from our research,” Gilens and Page write, “is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”
To illustrate this, let’s take a look at the graph below, courtesy of nonpartisan anti-corruption organization Represent.Us.
The horizontal axis represents the percentage of public support for an idea. The vertical axis represents the likelihood of the idea becoming law.
First, as an example, let’s “Take an idea that nobody supports, literally nobody,” says Represent.Us’ communications director, Mansur Gidfar:
This idea, according to the Princeton study, says Gidfar, “has about a 30% chance of becoming federal law.”
“Now, take an incredibly popular idea. The most popular idea this country has ever seen…” What are the odds of that idea becoming law?
The same. According to the results of the Princeton study, the answer is, again, thirty percent.
“This means,” says Gidfar, “that the number of American voters, for or against any idea, has no impact on the likelihood that Congress will make it law.
“Put another way,” he says as he pulls out a quote from the Princeton study: “The preferences of the average American appear to only have a minuscule, near zero statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
“So,” Gidfar goes on, “if you’ve ever felt like your opinion doesn’t matter and the government doesn’t really care what you think…
“But there’s a catch.”
The flat purple line you see below accounts only for the bottom 90% income earners in America.
“Economic elites, business interests, people who can afford lobbyists, they get their own line…”
Note the difference between the purple line (you and me) and the yellow line (the “crony collectivists”)...
“When they want something, the government is much more likely to do it. And when they don’t, they have the power to completely block it from happening. No matter how much the rest of the country supports it.
“They get what they want, and guess who ends up paying for it?”
All with things we don’t want and never asked for. Such as…
“With the most expensive healthcare in the world. We pay for it with a tax code that’s a complete mess. We pay for it with Internet, that’s slower and more expensive... with wasteful spending… with floundering education systems… a catastrophic drug war… and one in five American children born into poverty…
“Almost every major issue,” Gidfar says, “we face as a nation can be traced back to this graph…
The biggest problem is, of course, that it’s 100% legal to buy political influence in America.
And it’s so easy, says Gidfar:
“Let’s say a big bank wants a law that would force taxpayers to bail them out again if they repeat the exact same reckless behavior that crashed the global economy in 2008.
“Not exactly the most popular idea with the public. And Congress knows that. That should be the end of it. But that’s where the money comes in.
“It’s perfectly legal for our bank to hire a team of lobbyists, whose entire job is to make sure that the government gives the bank what it wants. Then those lobbyists can track down members of Congress who regulate banks and help raise a ton of money for their reelection campaigns.
“It’s perfectly legal for those lobbyists to offer those same politicians million-dollar jobs at their lobbying firm. Then those lobbyists can literally write the language of that new bailout law themselves and hand it off to the politician they just buttered up with campaign money and lucrative job offers. “And it’s perfectly legal for those politicians to take the lobbyist’s written language and sneak it through Congress at the last second.”
According to another anti-corruption organization, the Sunlight Foundation, in the last five years, the 200 most politically active companies in the U.S. spent $5.8 billion buttering up the government. Those companies, in turn, received $4.4 trillion in taxpayer support.
That’s not a typo…
Think about that.
© 2015 Laissez Faire Books, LLC