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Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cataclysm - Part V

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Post#871 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:55 am by DCZards

Induveca wrote:
Unions are by their very definition corrupt. They exist to further a single cause, and make others pay more at any cost to fund that cause's well-being via persistent negotiation (blackmail). Hard to coin that as anything but corrupt. :)


Indu, your views on unions (thugs???) are straight outta the 1930s and 1940s. You need to come into the 21st century. I know how unions operate (just like you seem to know how businesses operate) and I can assure you that your opinion that unions "exist to further a single cause" is very uninformed...unless that "cause" is fighting for the rights of workers, families, children, minorities, senior citizens, etc. :)
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Post#872 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:59 am by DCZards

Lobbyists get a bad rap. A lot of what I’ve been reading here about evil or corrupt lobbyists are gross overgeneralizations. I work with men and women who “lobby” for a living. They happen to advocate for educators and schoolchildren. And I know first-hand that not only are these men and women righteous individuals but so are the issues they lobby/advocate on behalf of.

Sure there are lobbyists/lawyers (as well as politicians, business owners, police officers and priests) who are corrupt and evil. What’s new?
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Post#873 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 12:09 pm by dobrojim

Zonkerbl wrote:
Is that a lobbyist or a lawyer? To me a lobbyist is someone who talks to political representatives and other political actors to try to advocate for a certain point of view. A lawyer is a tool used to bend the application/interpretation of laws to serve your interest. Lobbyists are a kind of lawyer, but not all lawyers are lobbyists, and not all lawyers who call themselves lobbyists are "lobbying" all the time.

Ruthlessness is not evil. It's being good at your job within the rules that are permitted/enforced. Using a lobbyist to take advantage of market failures introduced by government intervention is smart business. Allowing the government intervention to produce the market failure in the first place is the root of the problem. Is it fair that big businesses have economies of scale in hiring lawyers/lobbyists to peddle their influence? No. Does that make lobbying evil? No. What's evil is that small businesses can't afford lobbyists -- they cannot buy as much democratic representation per dollar that a large business can. Rather than labeling democratic representation as evil and trying to suppress it, we would all be much better off figuring out ways to lower the cost of democratic representation for smaller entities. That's what consumer advocacy groups are for. That's what online political campaigns are for.


Bravo.

Lobbying ~/= right of redress of grievences

I agree with what I take as your basic premise, that big money has an unfair advantage
in lobbying. That has resulted in our current society of a tiny number of haves, and a
large number of have-nots.

I stumbled across an interesting panel discussion last night on C-span (from GWU)
on ending poverty. That's a lobby that could well use the kind of resources that
plutocrats and corps currently have. One of the speakers repeated a quote
(not sure who first said it) but the gist of it was that we have a highway to
poverty and a sidewalk out to the middle class. This affects people of all
political persuasions, ethnicities etc.

fact - we have the greatest disparity in wealth and income of any advanced country.
Some of the cause of that is due to the influence of big money on political decisions
and priorities (by BOTH parties).

link to video of panel discussion http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/TavisSm
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Post#874 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 1:49 pm by dobrojim

Induveca wrote:Nice spin Zonk. :)

Problem is, it's an extremely corrupt system. Multiple layers of bribes to shelter the politicians and those greasing the wheels.

You have to pay off lobbyists to hold these "political discussions" you reference. They in turn, pay off the politicians via various means.....lobbyist consulting fees vary depending on connections and size of your business.

And no it has absolutely nothing to do with attorneys. Sure the lobbyist firms employ them, as many of the resulting favors from bribes end up as favorable laws for their "clients".....and to wage war on the PR corruption front. Of course many lobbies are purely fronts for a major business.

Can't get more corrupt than that, just the common Joe doesn't get it.....it's organized crime at the highest/most intelligent level....

What's the difference between NY Mobs (formerly) controlling trucking in NYC via well placed local and state government payoffs, and corporations being awarded exclusive rights to operate on federal owned and/or controlled land via not so discreet lobbyist bribery?

Not much....


I think a lot of people get it to a much greater extent than my interpretation
of your post would indicate. These people are just confused/scared/cynical/apathetic
about how best they might act to change it.

Social media has some potential to change this.
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Post#875 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 2:08 pm by Zonkerbl

Induveca, what's the difference between organized crime and government?

Competition vs. monopoly. When one warring tribe defeats the other, it goes from being a "roving band of militants" to being the "government in power."

Having lived in Siberia for a year, Indu, I can very strongly assert that if you think the U.S. system is corrupt, YOU AIN'T SEEN NUTHIN.

The U.S. is one of THE LEAST CORRUPT countries out there. This will be about the tenth time I've repeated this quote in this thread: Democracy is the worst possible form of government, except for all the others we've tried.

Corruption is a symptom of institutional dysfunction. No institution is perfect -- what we can do is try to identify the root causes of dysfunction and fix it.
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Post#876 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 2:23 pm by popper

Zonkerbl wrote:Induveca, what's the difference between organized crime and government?

Competition vs. monopoly. When one warring tribe defeats the other, it goes from being a "roving band of militants" to being the "government in power."

Having lived in Siberia for a year, Indu, I can very strongly assert that if you think the U.S. system is corrupt, YOU AIN'T SEEN NUTHIN.

The U.S. is one of THE LEAST CORRUPT countries out there. This will be about the tenth time I've repeated this quote in this thread: Democracy is the worst possible form of government, except for all the others we've tried.

Corruption is a symptom of institutional dysfunction. No institution is perfect -- what we can do is try to identify the root causes of dysfunction and fix it.


Good points. I think term limits could help if properly designed and implemented (a giant and difficult task to be sure but worth it IMO). Won't go into the details of my preferred design as it is complicated and I don't want to bore anyone.
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Post#877 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 2:50 pm by dobrojim

I don't think term limits is the answer. On its face it's anti-democratic.
It could well lead to GREATER influence by lobbyists/special interests.
Having institutional memory has definite advantages.

But other things ought to be looked at in order to diminish the tremendous
advantages of incumbency.

now term limits for Supreme Court judges...I think there is some merit in that.
Maybe 18 year terms...
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Post#878 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 2:53 pm by popper

Finally some good news - hopefully this tactic would force the Senate to develop and submit a budget. Perhaps the President might even consider submitting his own legally mandated budget.


............ A member of the House Republican leadership said consensus is growing among party members to craft “a very short-term” U.S. debt-limit increase to force the Senate to adopt a budget plan. A debt-limit increase probably would last “until the time” Congress is supposed to adopt a budget on April 15, Representative Kevin McCarthy said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s “Capitol Gains” program airing Jan. 20.

The challenge for the GOP is that the upcoming debate over the budget is framed around three separate events. First, the nation will hit the debt ceiling sometime in mid to late February. On March 2nd, the automatic spending cuts of the "sequester" take effect. Then, at the end of March, the government's spending authority expires, forcing a possible shutdown.

It is politically difficult to take on each of these events separately. There is also growing frustration among Republicans that the Senate has failed to produce a budget for the past four years, requiring a series of continuing resolutions. These are difficult vehicles to secure the spending cuts the nation needs to bring down the deficit.
The statements by Ryan and McCarthy are the first signs of the GOP's strategy on the debate. A short-term extension of the debt ceiling, through April or May, would enable all three events to be wrapped into a single negotiation. It would also put pressure on Senate Democrats to put forward a budget.

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government ... rce-budget
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Post#879 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:01 pm by montestewart

popper wrote:
Zonkerbl wrote:Induveca, what's the difference between organized crime and government?

Competition vs. monopoly. When one warring tribe defeats the other, it goes from being a "roving band of militants" to being the "government in power."

Having lived in Siberia for a year, Indu, I can very strongly assert that if you think the U.S. system is corrupt, YOU AIN'T SEEN NUTHIN.

The U.S. is one of THE LEAST CORRUPT countries out there. This will be about the tenth time I've repeated this quote in this thread: Democracy is the worst possible form of government, except for all the others we've tried.

Corruption is a symptom of institutional dysfunction. No institution is perfect -- what we can do is try to identify the root causes of dysfunction and fix it.


Good points. I think term limits could help if properly designed and implemented (a giant and difficult task to be sure but worth it IMO). Won't go into the details of my preferred design as it is complicated and I don't want to bore anyone.

I recall a conversation I had with lab partners in college, one each from Turkey, India, and Ethiopia. I made some comments about US corruption, and all three pretty much uniformly asserted that I didn't understand corruption as practiced outside the US if I thought it was bad here. Comments like "everyone expects it" and "no one even tries to hide it" characterize the general tenor of their comments.

I also recall my father commenting on going to conferences around the world, staying in standard hotels, and observing that governmental counterparts from other countries stayed in much more luxurious accommodations and ran up extensive expenses. When confronting some of them with questions about why representatives to development/anti-poverty conferences stayed in swank hotels, the responses generally bypassed the issue by focusing on his naivete.

I'm not saying any of that justifies any level of corruption here, but it does give some perspective.
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Post#880 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:04 pm by dobrojim

my understanding of the Constitution is that the House (of Reps)
is where the budget is supposed to originate. I fail to understand
why one house (or the other) should be held solely responsible
for the failure to come up with a budget. At the end of the day
(conf committee), both houses have to pass the same bill.
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Post#881 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:04 pm by dobrojim

deleted - double post
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Post#882 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:32 pm by popper

dobrojim wrote:my understanding of the Constitution is that the House (of Reps)
is where the budget is supposed to originate. I fail to understand
why one house (or the other) should be held solely responsible
for the failure to come up with a budget. At the end of the day
(conf committee), both houses have to pass the same bill.


You are correct about the Constitution but earlier last century a law was passed (I think it was something like the Budgetary Control Act of ... blah, blah, blah that also requires the Senate to pass a budget.

Dobrojim - I'm sure you already know this but the reason the Senate has refused to pass a budget for years is because they gain politically by not doing so - in other words they can't be pinned down by their constituents or criticized by the press since nothing is in writing or publicly debated. Is this the kind of leadership you want or that the people deserve?
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Post#883 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:35 pm by Induveca

montestewart wrote:
popper wrote:
Zonkerbl wrote:Induveca, what's the difference between organized crime and government?

Competition vs. monopoly. When one warring tribe defeats the other, it goes from being a "roving band of militants" to being the "government in power."

Having lived in Siberia for a year, Indu, I can very strongly assert that if you think the U.S. system is corrupt, YOU AIN'T SEEN NUTHIN.

The U.S. is one of THE LEAST CORRUPT countries out there. This will be about the tenth time I've repeated this quote in this thread: Democracy is the worst possible form of government, except for all the others we've tried.

Corruption is a symptom of institutional dysfunction. No institution is perfect -- what we can do is try to identify the root causes of dysfunction and fix it.


Good points. I think term limits could help if properly designed and implemented (a giant and difficult task to be sure but worth it IMO). Won't go into the details of my preferred design as it is complicated and I don't want to bore anyone.

I recall a conversation I had with lab partners in college, one each from Turkey, India, and Ethiopia. I made some comments about US corruption, and all three pretty much uniformly asserted that I didn't understand corruption as practiced outside the US if I thought it was bad here. Comments like "everyone expects it" and "no one even tries to hide it" characterize the general tenor of their comments.

I also recall my father commenting on going to conferences around the world, staying in standard hotels, and observing that governmental counterparts from other countries stayed in much more luxurious accommodations and ran up extensive expenses. When confronting some of them with questions about why representatives to development/anti-poverty conferences stayed in swank hotels, the responses generally bypassed the issue by focusing on his naivete.

I'm not saying any of that justifies any level of corruption here, but it does give some perspective.


Corruption is rampant in the US Federal Government. No need to justify it, it's the way things work at higher levels. Political corruption is shaped/molded in ways where it can be accepted by the general populace.

Best way to do that in the US is drastically inflating prices in government contracts obtained via lobbyists (then subcontracting to other "requested" entities). Doing this in complicated ways, tons of 300 page contracts and multiple contractors/licensees/bank transfers gets money to where it needs to go.

There is a reason Pentagon lightbulbs were 50 dollars each or some insane figure. I've also seen the federal government buy computer servers at 500% premium from requested local consulting firms. That wasn't a "favor" for the consulting firm.
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Post#884 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:40 pm by dobrojim

Maybe I have not been paying as close attention as you...
is what you're saying the house passed 'a budget' but the
senate did not? If so, I would guess that that would be
because that it would not comport with the House passed
budget and so have no chance of becoming law, as well
as the reasons you suggest. No upside, only downside.
But I don't disagree with your basic premise, very much
anyway, that if the law requires it, they should do it.
My guess is that they met the letter of the law by
simply passing a CR.
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Post#885 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:21 pm by Zonkerbl

Indu, please define "corruption."

Then please describe how the democratic process would function in a corruptionless environment.

To an economist, corruption can only occur when a government regulation restricts entry into a market. When legal administrative fees are too high or too low, a government official can either take a bribe to waive fees that are too high, or only grant access to the market when a bribe is paid in addition to the fee that is too low. I don't think that's what you mean by corruption, though.

Communicating your desire for a specific legislative change to your political representative is not corruption, it's democracy.

Now. What happens when a majority is more or less indifferent to a certain policy, but kinda in favor of it, while a minority is extremely adversely affected? If you have simple majority rule, you get "tyranny of the majority." So there has to be a way of communicating the degree of your dislike of a certain policy. One way to do this is put your money where your mouth is and offer to pay to get the policy changed.

Now, from an economist's point of view, it doesn't really matter whether you pay a policy maker directly, or pay a "lobbyist" who gives you "access." For some reason, people consider paying for policy changes directly "corruption." They also consider paying a lobbyist for access is corruption when people they don't like do it, but properly functioning democracy when people they like do it.

That's not actually how democracy works. The same tool that lets civil rights advocates communicate their dislike of racism is the same tool that oil companies use to force taxpayers to provide subsidies to them. If there was a black and white distinction between good and evil, you could just allow bribes, but only for "good" reasons. You offer a bribe to a guy, he holds up his "evil-o-meter," and if the red light doesn't come on, it's all good. In the real world, you can't allow some people to use a tool and others not. Well, you can in the Soviet Union. But not in the U.S. -- that's not how our system works. In fact, our system works better than most others PRECISELY because we do not take sides on who gets to use it. And that's because democracy is not the problem. Letting people show how much they care about an issue by spending money to get the issue changed is a good thing. A very good thing. Believe me. You can be absolutely positive that without that, Christianity would be our official religion, slavery would still be legal, and only white male landowners would be allowed to vote.
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Post#886 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:28 pm by popper

dobrojim wrote:Maybe I have not been paying as close attention as you...
is what you're saying the house passed 'a budget' but the
senate did not? If so, I would guess that that would be
because that it would not comport with the House passed
budget and so have no chance of becoming law, as well
as the reasons you suggest. No upside, only downside.
But I don't disagree with your basic premise, very much
anyway, that if the law requires it, they should do it.
My guess is that they met the letter of the law by
simply passing a CR.


Fair enough.
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Post#887 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 6:32 pm by montestewart

Induveca wrote:There is a reason Pentagon lightbulbs were 50 dollars each or some insane figure. I've also seen the federal government buy computer servers at 500% premium from requested local consulting firms. That wasn't a "favor" for the consulting firm.

Not "Pentagon" lightbulbs, and they don't cost $50. Philips had a contract to develop a lower cost LED replacement bulb, and it had to be manufactured and assembled in the US. Read here: http://www.triplepundit.com/2012/03/phi ... ight-bulb/
Don't buy that because it's too something or other? Just do a little original research, there are plenty of sites that flesh out the story. The only ones I saw that uncritically parroted "$50 Pentagon lightbulbs" were dull extremist sites.

Sure there's corruption, but I don't see evidence here that it exists. Maybe it's in the $10 million contract to develop the US-made bulb.

Those who gain the most from corruption (and thus have the most to lose) gain also from the perpetuation of such easily disproved stories (the toilet seat, the hammer, etc), as truth and lies merge into an indecipherable collage and everyone just gives up on research, logic, and analysis.

PS: Here it is right here @ $20.69, which is in the range of other (non-US made) 60 watt LED bulbs.
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Post#888 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 9:02 pm by Induveca

montestewart wrote:
Induveca wrote:There is a reason Pentagon lightbulbs were 50 dollars each or some insane figure. I've also seen the federal government buy computer servers at 500% premium from requested local consulting firms. That wasn't a "favor" for the consulting firm.

Not "Pentagon" lightbulbs, and they don't cost $50. Philips had a contract to develop a lower cost LED replacement bulb, and it had to be manufactured and assembled in the US. Read here: http://www.triplepundit.com/2012/03/phi ... ight-bulb/
Don't buy that because it's too something or other? Just do a little original research, there are plenty of sites that flesh out the story. The only ones I saw that uncritically parroted "$50 Pentagon lightbulbs" were dull extremist sites.

Sure there's corruption, but I don't see evidence here that it exists. Maybe it's in the $10 million contract to develop the US-made bulb.

Those who gain the most from corruption (and thus have the most to lose) gain also from the perpetuation of such easily disproved stories (the toilet seat, the hammer, etc), as truth and lies merge into an indecipherable collage and everyone just gives up on research, logic, and analysis.

PS: Here it is right here @ $20.69, which is in the range of other (non-US made) 60 watt LED bulbs.


Fair enough on the bulb, I was trying to remember a story from the 90s. That being said I could buy that bulb here for 3 dollars or so (have some in my kitchen according to my girl). Alibaba.com if you buy in bulk they go to 2.50.

The US is extremely corrupt however. Mostly at the federal level. How do I know this? I've been part of it on both sides. Just get yourself a good merc lobbyist and with enough money you can buy any favor/government approval needed in DC.

Not sure why I'm arguing this....I literally have to live this stuff. US government officials down here (Dominican Republic) are considered the most dangerous crooks of all. Embassy officials regularly shake down companies to turn a blind eye to them when US legislation is passed which may impact any questionable grants or aid they have received.

Consul officials accept huge bribes to overturn things like revoked student visas. (50k usually gets it done). 100k for business visas. But it typically must get done in higher up social circles.

I've known embassy types who enjoy million dollar beach homes held via a Dominican company, and live 25,000/month lives.

I could go on and on, but last I will just reinforce the "War on Drugs" is AMAZINGLY profitable for companies receiving aid and the local US officials granting or administering said aid.
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Post#889 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 9:10 pm by Induveca

Random stat I just saw on NHK. China currently has 937 million people who are "working age".

I don't see the US ever coming close to competing on a global manufacturing scale. The US needs a little isolationism in more industries (like their current block on Chinese cars).
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Post#890 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Sat Jan 19, 2013 3:04 pm by popper

More evidence as to why so many are still skeptical of global warming.

Government Scientist Gets Fired for Telling the Truth

Something’s amiss at the Department of Interior. Eight government scientists were recently fired or reassigned after voicing concerns to their superiors about faulty environmental science used for policy decisions. Which begs the question, “Are some government agencies manipulating science to advance political agendas?” ...............

http://townhall.com/columnists/davidspa ... h-n1492207
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