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Archive for November 27th, 2011

Crony Capitalism – Part Deux

Posted by Roderic Deane on November 27, 2011

Last week, I talked with Peter Schweizer and Stephen Bannon about Peter’s new book, “Throw Them All Out!” Peter’s book is a huge eye-opener to the legalized graft that exists in Washington, D.C.

Dictionary.com provides a definition as follows:

graft [noun]

1. the acquisition of money, gain, or advantage by dishonest, unfair, or illegal means, especially through the abuse of one’s position or influence in politics, business, etc.

2. a particular instance, method, or means of thus acquiring gain or advantage.

3. the gain or advantage acquired.

Of course, there are other definitions of the word “graft”, but we’ll go the definition that suits us.

Peter Schweizer talked about a number of ways that Washington politicians take advantage of their positions and use inside knowledge to enrich themselves. His book talked about insider-trading, land acquisitions based on inside knowledge, the power of campaign contributions and lobbying efforts to sway legislation to one’s advantage. What’s really sad is that most if not all of the examples cited in his book are perfectly legal. Why, you ask? Because the people that make the laws exempt themselves from that which is enforced against us, their lowly constituents.

Since Schweizer’s book has come out, Congressional hearings have been scheduled after an outcry within Republican Max Baucus’s district. Calls for his immediate resignation after disclosures in Schweizer’s book have forced him to capitulate to these demands. He has scheduled Congressional hearings this December about insider-trading in Washington as an alternative to his resignation. The big question will be whether of not any of these hearings will really effect change.

Oh, I suspect that we’ll see a few Representatives and their staffers get slaps on the wrist, but I seriously doubt that we’ll see meaningful changes until the full scope of the problem becomes known and reported on. Mainstream media is hesitant to report on examples of this legalized graft for fear of losing access to inside sources of information so vital to their jobs.

What we know is that there is a symbiotic relationship between Congress, the mainstream media and what I’ll call Big Lobby. It is the lobbyists’ money that everyone is beholden to. It forms the basis for everything else that leads to legalized graft because it is the conduit through which all information flows.

To be fair, there are certainly other instances of legalized graft that don’t go through the network of Big Lobby, but those instances still involve insider information that Congressional leaders are privvy to. Case in point is Dennis Hastert, the former Republican Speaker of the House. He was privvy to information about the path of a new highway near certain property that he owned. The path of the highway changed and miraculously ran near or through some of his property. You all know what has happened in our communities when a new highway is built to ease congestion into and out of our cities. These highways become the new growth areas and anyone holding property rights at or near an interchange can see huge gains in the value of their land as developers clamor to acquire them.

The truly scary part about all of this is that Washington, D.C. sets the stage for every other level of government, including state, county and local. The major difference is that as politics become more local in scope, the effects on us as individuals are more apparent and measurable. When a United States Congressman takes advantage of his or her position, it is often manifested in areas outside of his or her district and outside the scope of local news reporting.

Our Framers felt very strongly about citizen legislators that would bring the concerns of their constituents to Washington. As we’ve all become part of the “information age”, we now have access to information that extends far beyond local issues. In addition, our legislators no longer deal in information unique to their local districts. As citizens, we must recognize the different world that we live in and adjust accordingly.

Our Framers gave us tools to adapt our founding principles. That doesn’t mean that we cast aside those principles, it only means that we have the ability to address current times and continue to maintain those principles. What we’re seeing today is an abomination of those principles. It’s time to go back to the drawing board and reign in the explosion of extra-Constitutional laws and activities that were never meant to be there in the first place. As Sarah Palin likes to put it, now is the time for sudden and relentless reform. Otherwise, our Constitution will cease to have meaning in our society and we will once again become subject to the powers that be in some far-off place.

Today, that place is Washington, D.C.
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