Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Why and how Crony Capitalism now defines American Democracy ... by gimleteye

It is sickening to watch the 2016 presidential campaign unfold and to understand that all the posturing by candidates is really to serve the agendas of large corporate interests who would rather drive the nation into the ground -- and our standing around the world as a beacon of hope and freedom -- than change their business models that continue to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of a few.

There is no surprise how this happens. Jeb Bush, for just one example, has been an officially "undeclared" candidate for the GOP presidential nomination and thereby allows his largest corporate donors to funnel money into dark money channels on his behalf in unlimited amounts. He officially scoffs at charges that his "undeclared" campaign is breaking federal election laws, while at the same time the chair of the Federal Election Commission -- charged with supervising campaign finance behaviors -- despairs out loud that there are so many loopholes in federal election laws that it is useless to even attempt to police campaign finance.

Here is a very good and short NY Times video explanation of how elections are now financed:

Although the current version of election chaos primarily benefits Republicans (because the goal of crony capitalism is to maximize profits by minimizing taxes and "burdensome regulation" and those are mainly Republican objectives), there is clear evidence that a democratic system of checks and balances between the executive branch, judiciary and legislature absolutely depends on a thriving political ecosystem. Just look at the disastrous session of the Florida legislature -- an impregnable Republican majority thanks to gerrymandered districts combined with a governor, Rick Scott, impervious to public pressure. To say voters are turned off is the understatement of the 21st century.

Another visible result is the descent of television news into disgraceful idiocy. As astutely observed by Common Ground recently, television broadcasters are the principal beneficiary of the broken campaign finance system because political advertisements have become an extraordinarily lucrative component of income. For example, NBC Nightly News -- that weakly attempted to hold its head higher than its rivals during the Brian Williams era -- has featured as its lead-off story for several nights running that escape of two convicts from a maximum security prison in upstate New York. Excuse me?

Under what conceivable priority of importance to the free world is the fate of two junk-yard killers when the world is filled with misadventures far more worthy of rising to public attention, for the purposes of enlightment? (Here, I want to make a plug for internet-ready Vice News that is kicking broadcasters' asses from one end of the news spectrum to the other.) Instead -- because of revenue and profits generated by political campaigns to broadcasters -- television news surrendered to an Orwellian flood. Lee Fang writes in Common Ground:

In 2012, Les Moonves, president and chief executive of CBS, memorably said, “Super PACs may be bad for America, but they’re very good for CBS.”

His views appear unchanged. In a February investor call, Moonves predicted “strong growth with the help of political spending,” particularly on television. He added dryly, “looking ahead, the 2016 presidential election is right around the corner and, thank God, the rancor has already begun.”

Speaking of floods, read the excellent report by Biscayne Times on sea level rise and Miami real estate markets, "Six Feet Under". Of course, EOM readers recall that FPL's business model is based on one foot of sea level rise by the end of the century; a fabulously unrealistic outcome propelled by the Florida legislature's backing through early-cost recovery for two new nuclear reactors at Turkey Point pegged to cost ratepayers, $20 billion. A favorite quote from Erik Bojnansky's piece: "Reaction to sea level rise from a business sector preoccupied with selling South Florida as a desirable place to live has been fairly muted, particularly in Miami-Dade, according to Brian Carter, a broker associate with Douglas Elliman Real Estate. “It’s not part of a Realtor’s conversation right now,” he says. Until you see some immediate impact, it’s not at the forefront of most Realtors’ minds, nor their clients'."

A stable democracy would protect citizens and taxpayers from the reality that the entire apparatus of government and the economy has devolved into a game of musical chairs in which the outcome is already rigged to favor the wealthiest few.


Anonymous said...

In Miami we see developers and lobbyists hand out money like Halloween candy to novice Commissioner Keon Hardemon's aunt and to controversial Commissioner Marc Sarnoff's campaign accounts to secure votes for a proposed 63 story illegal LED billboard tower. Concurrently, the same developer hands out checks to "the usual suspects" in Overtown to head off opposition. Crony capitalism?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

If you want a great case study in crony capitalism, take a good look at Obama's 2009 stimulus. Billions and billions of dollars handed to politically-connected corporations under the guise of economic recovery. Both political parties are in on the racket.

Anonymous said...

Berny Sanders gave a great interview this morning on the Diane Reem radio show. Offering a loot of "fixes" for what's ailing the Country today. And not shy to call out the "people" who work against the people.

Anonymous said...

The best indicator of how deluded the real estate industry is in Miami re Climate Change sea level rise can be seen in the promotional videos for condo projects - they are selling the world a fantasy today, just as they did a century goes. The Magic City. Poof, it appeared out of nowhere. Poof - it disappeared swallowed by the sea. e

Peachy Pie said...

According to a seminar on climate change that I completed at the U.of M. sea level rise will be between 7 and 10 feet by the end of this century. People are clueless and in denial. FPL's business model is complete insanity based on greed.