Money is Power

The market capitalization of the ten largest US corporation is about $3.5 trillion. The United States government will expend about $4 trillion in fiscal year 2016. The ten richest Americans are worth about $456.9 billion.

Think, for a moment, what you could do with one billion dollars. If you had 1,000 family members and friends, you could make each of them a millionaire. If you dumped the whole lot into a short-term bond fund, you’d make $50,300,000.00 per year…or, to put it in terms of a 40 hour work-week, you’d be paid $24,182.69 per hour. For doing nothing. And you wouldn’t even be touching your billion dollars. Now, multiply that by about 8,000 and you’re at what the largest corporations, the government and the richest people in America have. Those are resources beyond imagination. Who could you not buy off? Who could you not convince to do things your way?

To be sure, those who have a deeply-instructed religious/philosophical mind would be beyond your power…but this is a small minority of the whole. So many people would present themselves at your beck and call that you could safely ignore those outside your influence…or destroy them if they became an irritation. Yesterday, it was announced that those who had made the videos showing Planned Parenthood selling baby parts have been indicted. Think about that for a moment – Planned Parenthood is deliberately breaking the law and it is the people who exposed the law-breaking who are under indictment. This is what you can do if you have lots of money – and thus have lots of power…and Planned Parenthood is awash in cash to buy influence to put down people pesky enough to look into their doings.

We all remember the O J Simpson case – the evidence was, to say the least, pretty strong that he had murdered two people in cold blood. We don’t know, precisely, how much money Simpson spent on his defense (for some reason defense attorneys are reticent about telling us of their fees for such cases), but the estimate at the time was about five million dollars. O J, to put it in a nutshell, purchased a not-guilty verdict. Marc Rich was indicted for a variety of crimes…but one million dollars donated to the Democrat Party, $100,000.00 to Hillary’s 2000 Senate campaign and $450,000.00 to Bill’s Presidential library and, presto!, a pardon. A bargain for a guy who was worth north of a billion dollars. And wouldn’t it be great if you could buy yourself out of a long prison sentence?

But, you can’t. I can’t. Very likely, no one even in your remotest relations and third-degree-separation friends can, either. Nor can we buy our way on to television, nor into lucrative book deals, nor into the halls of power to pitch our case. We don’t have enough money – we don’t count. Because money is power. If you wonder why the GOP leadership kept on getting it wrong and, eventually, set the stage of Donald Trump to bollix up the whole GOP primary in 2016, look no further than the money. The GOP leadership wasn’t interested in what we cared about – they continued to do whatever it was the money wanted done…and, here we are.

Hillary rather infamously said a few years back that for our own good, they’re going to have to take some things away from us. She means what small amounts of money and property we’ve got – she’s certainly not going to take away the money of those who are keeping her and her family on the gravy train. Sanders talks about making the rich pay “their fair share”, but if you think he’s ever going to Soros’ house to demand a billion dollars of his money, then I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. Remember, aside from a few of clear mind, those in government are in government because someone with a bucket of money helped to put them in government. People are usually not interested in killing their goose that lays the golden eggs.

Where am I going with all this? Well, our Founders wrote a great governing document – our Constitution (currently hibernating) – with all sorts of things put in there to make sure government couldn’t do things (and just what part of “shall not be infringed” do you not get, liberals?) but here we are, a bit more than 200 years later, and government is doing all sorts of things which violate the letter and spirit of the Constitution. How did this happen? People with lots of money purchased influence and got the government to just go ahead and do things it isn’t allowed to do. To be sure, this was often done with the official consent of the people – if we elect a Big Government liberal, then no one should be surprised when that Big Government liberal goes nuts with power.

What is missing from our Constitution is some mechanisms which would make sure that when money talks, the law and morality speak louder. Our liberals – because they are nitwits – think that the solution to the corruption of money is to make sure the government has all the money. As if the people in government, in control of vast sums, don’t dip into the till for themselves and their cronies…nor use the money of government to induce people to act against their own best interests. We can’t get rid of money, no matter how you slice it – and we can’t get rid of rich people, either (even under the Soviet Union, there were people who were quite rich…they just made their money off government instead of off providing a good or service the people might want). But we simply must do something to mute the power of money.

I’m sure if we ponder it for a while, a lot of solutions could come up, but I think the best immediate solution is term limits. It is easy to buy a guy in his 20’s and he stays bought into his 70’s after he’s on his 5th Senate term. Much harder to buy Congress over and over again every few years. But we can’t just limit the number of years people serve in an office, we also have to make it so that no particular office is an immediate stepping stone to a different office. The Romans, under the Republic, had it that you couldn’t take a different government office until five years after you left your last office. And that is a grand idea. No more having people just step from city council to State Assembly to the House to the Senate and having a 50 year long uninterrupted career…and in all that time, continually doing the bidding of those who have the money. It would work like this – you get elected to the House and then you can serve three terms and then you’re out…and once you’re out, it is five years before you can even seek a different office; any office. You’re just out of politics, completely…hopefully to be entirely forgotten after two or three years, so there’s less incentive for you to try for a different office down the road. But, even if you do, at least we’ve got five years to see how what you did turned out. Before you face the voters again, we’re going to know what happened with those great-sounding laws you helped to pass. We also need to apply term limits to government service…no more than 20 years entrenched in the bureaucracy, and no fat pensions, either; 401k’s for everyone. Having a permanent class of bureaucrats also doesn’t work well for us because they, too, fall under the influence of those with money (or become influence peddlers, themselves). Government service should be, outside the military, a short-term duty civic minded people take upon themselves…not a life-long sinecure for corrupt and stupid people.

At all events, we have to do something – we can’t just let our Republic go down due to the corruption of short-sighted, power-mad nincompoops who make a career out of politics. Money needs to be shut up and the will of the people needs to prevail.

UPDATE: One of our Progressive lurkers decided to call me out on this – naturally, the objection to the post is not related to the subject at hand. The objection is that I spoke disparagingly of saintly Planned Parenthood. How dare I! After all, an organization dedicated to killing unborn children could not be other than of the highest morality! At all events, the left is assuming that the indictment of the makers of the videos proves that it is the video makers who are in the wrong – and they love to point out that the DA is a Republican and was appointed by a Republican governor and, therefor, there can be no other conclusion than THE VIDEO MAKERS ARE EVIL EVIL EVIL!!!!11!.

Well, not quite – Devon Anderson was appointed Harris County DA in 2013 succeeding her late husband in the position. While Anderson is indeed a Republican, Harris County is one of the few Democrat counties in the State of Texas (Obama won the county, narrowly, in both 2008 and 2012). Houston, which is the county seat of Harris, hasn’t had a Republican Mayor since 1982. In a very odd bit of business, Anderson didn’t indict abortionist Douglas Karpen, who’s activities were very similar to the abortion shop of horrors run by Kermit Gosnell, now serving life without the possibility of parole in Pennsylvania. Anderson is up for election in 2016 and the $25,000.00 odd dollars donated to her campaign by Douglas Karpen’s attorney will probably come in handy. Meanwhile, indicting PP would probably not have worked to Anderson’s advantage in November.

You see? Even if one wishes to suppose that Planned Parenthood is guiltless and that those mean, nasty Pro Lifers got what is coming to them what we have is a system where a person is made DA because of the political connections of her late husband and who is taking donations from people who defend those allegedly under investigation by the DA. This is what I’m on about with Money is Power, folks…

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23 thoughts on “Money is Power

  1. Amazona January 28, 2016 / 12:25 am

    I do understand the rationale behind great pensions, etc.—it is that the creme of the crop, the best and the brightest, can do so much better for themselves in the private sector than they can in public service, the only way to attract the best is to compensate them somehow for setting aside income growth in exchange for a few years in Congress.

    I see the argument for not having a lifetime gravy train after just a few years in elected office, but I also see a problem in only having our legislators and potential presidents coming from the middle of the pack, so to speak.

    I would say not only no job in government, no job connected with government, such as lobbying. Again, there would be some losses—-someone who did a stellar job on the Armed Services Committee might be a logical choice for SecDef. But you win some, you lose some. Just commenting on some of those Unintended Consequences.

    A problem with term limits is that while it is a great idea, we have to structure it with the realization that there is a learning curve in political office. I have had some conversations with some staff members in both the House and Senate recently, and the volume and complexity of what these people have to deal with is staggering. We out here don’t even begin to understand the rules of the Senate and the House—we hear, for example, that Harry Reid blocked bills from going to the floor for a vote, but few of us understand how the committees work. So we have to build in enough time to develop competence before we cut short the time we let these people serve.

    This learning curve, by the way, is one reason to avoid the trap of thinking that because so much of politics is corrupt we would be better off electing a president who is not a politician. That sounds really good on the surface, but on-the-job training also involves learning how the system works, and it is a lot to ask to dump a political newbie into an office as complex as the presidency where he or she has to learn so much about the job itself that simply can’t be learned anywhere else but the Oval Office and also have to, at the same time, learn the mechanics of government.

    • M. Noonan January 28, 2016 / 12:35 am

      I think someone who was really worth while could still capture the imagination after 5 years out of office. We’d probably still mostly elect governors to the Presidency, I’d bet. Lincoln had served only a total of 10 years in public office when he became President – and was out of office for 12 years prior to being sworn in. Reagan had been out of the California governor’s mansion for 6 years when he was sworn in as President (and being governor was the only other public office he had held). What did we get out of Bill Clinton who spent almost his entire adult life in public office? Out of Barack Obama? True, Calvin Coolidge had a long career in office prior to becoming President, but he’s more of an exception which proves the rule.

  2. Amazona January 28, 2016 / 12:28 am

    One spin on the Planned Parenthood related indictment: That it is a good thing, because if PP itself had been indicted they would have immediately swamped the case with high-powered lawyers. This thinking is that this way, the defendant can bring out all the evidence about PP that PP would have tried to block if they were the ones on trial.

  3. Shawny Lee January 28, 2016 / 11:28 pm

    Just a note for term limits. That’s something I’ve always thought needed to addressed, but in the last several month I read an article (if I can find it again I’ll post it) that described how the lobbyists and special interest groups are now bypassing our representatives and going directly to the heads of agencies who simply write or change a regulation in their favor because it’s faster, cheaper, under everyones radar because it just becomes a line item on that agency or departments budget.

    • Amazona January 29, 2016 / 12:22 am

      Thank you for bringing this up, Shawny. I have written (not that this idea originated with me) about the development of a Fourth Branch of Government, which is agencies. And the problem with this, aside from the fact that it just isn’t constitutional, is that agency heads are appointed, once they are appointed they are civil service employees and nearly impossible to dislodge. They hire the people they want, who are also under civil service. They expand their fiefdoms and then demand more money to support them, and the best way to appeal for more people and more money is to expand their scope.

      So the BLM needs more people and a bigger budget because the agency is responsible for more land, and is taking on new and expanded roles in its administration. Obama gave the EPA nearly unlimited power, with no real oversight, to decide for itself just what constitutes “pollution” and then to determine how to deal with it. Think about that for a moment. This imperial edict means that an agency run by political appointees can (and does) make sweeping decisions over pretty much every aspect of energy development in this country. They can decide where oil can be extracted on federal lands (which, as we have noted, is always expanding) and where in the oceans, regulations on every aspect of that industry, regulations on the coal industry, and so on. All this power vested in an agency which has the power to legislate without much restraint, essentially without oversight, but controlling in one way or another a vast chunk of our economy.

      This is why I have said I think an early priority of a new president and Congress should be a dramatic revision of the civil service laws. This was touched upon, very briefly and only in passing, in tonight’s debate, and I hoped it would be addressed in more depth.

    • M. Noonan January 29, 2016 / 1:14 am

      Oh, any reforms we make would have to be very deep – term limits for politicians just scratches the surface. I’ve been pondering it a bit – of course, I mentioned in the post a term limit for bureaucrats, as well…no more than 20 years of government employment, and no fat pensions.

      Getting rid of government debt is a good thing, too – money held in the form of government debt is, first off, a misallocation of resources (it isn’t be used to make, mine or grow anything), but it also gives those who hold a lot of them power over our government…as well as a substantial income which they can then use to influence government even more.

  4. Amazona January 29, 2016 / 11:32 am

    OT but last night is the first night I have sat through and watched an entire Republican debate this election cycle. Of course, it was also the first Republican debate this election cycle that was not part serious politics and part huckster showmanship.

    Overall, I thought it was a good showing for everyone. The conventional wisdom is that Rubio did himself a lot of good last night. I did have a couple of observations.

    One is that Megyn Kelly is a terrible moderator. She doesn’t get that the moderator is not supposed to argue with the debater. The last time she moderated she inserted herself into the debate when she argued with a candidate about his stance on banning abortion, and last night she did much the same thing, though right now I can’t remember the topic at the time.

    Cruz, knowing he can be funny, tried to be a comedian, and fell flat. For one thing, it is hard to tell a joke when some bozo steps all over your lines—-timing is everything. His effort to imitate Trump was not only disrupted so badly by some sniper from the stage (not sure who butted in with snark) but it was then completely misinterpreted by pretty much everyone, so instead of Cruz imitating Trump complaining, people are saying it was Cruz complaining. Stay in your own lane, Ted.

    Coming up with quick quips off the cuff is one thing, but doing standup is just not your thing.

    On the other hand, I can’t understand why so many people didn’t get it. Didn’t laugh—I get that. But didn’t get what he was doing?

    One thing that occurred to me as I watched was the famous/infamous Kennedy/Nixon debate. People who heard it on the radio thought Nixon won, but those who watched it on TV thought Kennedy did. Nixon was smarter, sharper, had better answers, but Kennedy was prettier. I think that dynamic might have played out again last night, with Cruz having good, sharp, smart answers but Rubio adding his physical charm and charisma to his own good, smart answers.

    • Amazona January 29, 2016 / 11:41 am

      Correction—the bozo who walked all over Cruz’s effort to joke was not on the stage, but was Chris Wallace.

  5. Retired Spook January 29, 2016 / 2:42 pm

    One of the most interesting exchanges last night actually occurred AFTER the debate. If Cruz would have just admitted the political slight-of-hand he engaged in on the immigration bill, when answering the question in the debate, he’d have won the debate, IMO. As it was, I suspect a lot of people came away from the debate remembering only the video clips of Cruz which made him look like he was, as Rand Paul noted, trying to have it both ways.

    I guess we’ll see come Monday night.

    • M. Noonan January 30, 2016 / 1:28 am

      We’ll see – I’m backing Cruz for now. Iowa is a ground-game thing – Cruz, apparently, has a stupendous ground-game in Iowa. But if Trump can drag a whole bunch of first-timers to the caucus, then he might win. I hope not – I hope that, now, we’ll see some actual voting and thus a real look at the state of the campaign. If Cruz can win Iowa and Rubio New Hampshire, then it is probably all over for Trump. On the other hand, if Trump wins both then he’s likely the nominee…and the next President.

    • Amazona January 29, 2016 / 11:18 pm

      Wow. I am stunned. A pro-Trump anti-Cruz site savaging Cruz—who would have seen that coming?

      More to the point, who would pay any attention to it?

      Oh, I’m sorry. Let me correct that. A pro-Trump anti-Cruz anti-Beck site savaging Cruz and Beck.—who would have seen that coming?

      There. Fixed.

      • Shawny Lee January 30, 2016 / 12:28 am

        Of course I considered the source Amazona. Didn’t say it was all true, said it didn’t look good. Only one of his campaign legal team accounted for in the tweets so there needs to be more but if the exodus from his campaign team is right and signing of non-disclosures then it’s going to raise a few questions. Yes, it’s fodder for Cruz haters, of which I have never been…..so if I have questions…..

      • Amazona January 30, 2016 / 11:57 am

        My point is, nothing put out there by the opposition will ever look good for anyone.

        I still don’t question Cruz’s honesty or integrity. The format of the debate didn’t allow him much time to explain his voting, but he did a good job in talking with Megyn Kelly afterward. Somewhere, I heard someone blustering along the lines of “I don’t give a damn about excuses about procedural technicalities, he voted the way he voted”. That attitude works great in a system where procedural technicalities don’t matter. But in our world, they do, which is the best argument against voting for someone just because he is not a politician. If an omnibus bill is presented that is primarily about something very important, with a bunch of pork or some offensive aspects backloaded so the choice is vote down the good stuff or get stuck with the bad stuff, it does make sense to vote for the bill and then try to amend it to get rid of the junk.

        This is why I think we should not allow omnibus bills. so subsidies to special interests can’t piggyback on VA bills, for example. This system allows a party to either get what it wants through the back door or get major traction because the opposition voted down an essential and popular program. There is no reason any bill should be 1000 pages long.

      • Amazona January 30, 2016 / 5:07 pm

        There is a big anti-Cruz campaign being led by the governor of Iowa, a putative Republican whose son is deeply invested in promoting ethanol mandates and subsidies, heading the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. (emphasis mine)

        “Gov. Branstad has declared open war on Cruz the past few weeks; while Cruz’s position calling for phasing out the ethanol Renewable Fuel Standard is not that different from that of some other candidates (Marco Rubio included), Cruz is the one closer to winning the caucuses and has spent more time talking about the issue than Rubio has, and it terrifies the crony capitalists of Iowa to think an anti-ethanol candidate could grab the third rail that defines Iowa’s first place on the presidential calendar and survive. Trump, no matter his stance on every other issue under the sun, is acceptable to this crowd because he has gone into full crony pander mode on ethanol, calling for increasing the mandate.”

        Trump, however, has a different position. This “conservative” hopeful is all about using the government to promote selected businesses and/or industries. (emphasis mine)

        “Donald Trump said Tuesday that federal regulators should increase the amount of ethanol blended into the nation’s gasoline supply. Speaking at an event hosted by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, Trump, a real estate mogul and the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ought to follow the ethanol volumes Congress set in 2007. “The EPA should ensure that biofuel … blend levels match the statutory level set by Congress under the [renewable fuel standard],” Trump said.

        …Trump was generally very supportive of the ethanol law, saying he is “100 percent” behind the ethanol industry, a powerful force in Iowa. “As president, I will encourage Congress to be cautious in attempting to charge and change any part of the RFS,” he said..

      • M. Noonan January 31, 2016 / 12:01 am

        Ethanol, in my view, is one of the most stupid and corrupt things we do – but we can’t get rid of it, and you can see why: Iowa wants it and everyone wants to please Iowa.

    • Retired Spook January 30, 2016 / 1:45 pm

      Excellent summation!

      • Amazona January 30, 2016 / 4:55 pm

        I was impressed, as well. So are a lot of other people, who are looking at the young Ben Sasse as one of the rising stars in a dynamic next generation of conservative stars.

        He asked a lot of questions of Donald Trump on Twitter. They seemed like perfectly reasonable questions to ask someone who wants to be president of the United States. Mr. Trump, however, in a wholly Trumpian response, took umbrage at being asked questions about his policy positions, etc.,

        http://www.redstate.com/2016/01/29/nebraska-senator-ben-sasse-responded-donald-trump-perfect

        His responses were:

        The great State of Nebraska can do much better than@BenSasse as your Senator. Saw him on @greta – totally ineffective. Wants paid for pols.

        .@BenSasse looks more like a gym rat than a U.S. Senator. How the hell did he ever get elected? @greta

        Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have this guy as president? I can see it now. As soon as Putin spanks him a little, as he is bound to do, letting a little of the hot air out, we’d be getting a lot of scathing yet statesmanlike Twitter replies:

        “How did Putin ever get to be the head of Russia? What a loser”
        “Putin should stay off horses, his picture shows one horse’s head and two horse’s asses”
        “I don’t care what Putin looks like without a shirt, I have satisfied more high class women than he has”

  6. Amazona January 30, 2016 / 12:20 pm

    In an article about the failure of two Obama federal judge appointees, I came across the following paragraph.

    “Younge received questions about endorsements he received while running for the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia. While a candidate, he sought support from Planned Parenthood’s political action committee.

    Isn’t the fact that Planned Parenthood HAS a “political action committee” enough reason to stop government funding? Doesn’t that just jump right out at you? An organization has a political action committee which presumably exists to engage in political action, a term which indicates promoting one candidate over another in an election as well as lobbying for certain legislation.

    When a company promotes one candidate over another, it may do so because of a hope that the candidate will vote for laws or regulations the company feels would be in its best interests. In this case, though, the payback is not just a general rule or regulation, it is actual funding flowing back from the government to the organization.

    • Shawny Lee January 31, 2016 / 12:53 pm

      Absolutely!! I’m guessing that’s exactly why they’re still in business and it needs to be stopped. Likewise he union PAC’s. I wasn’t aware of that so thanks for posting.

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