Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

Does Money Corrupt Politics?

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Which is Corrupted: Money or Politics?

Many people believe that money corrupts politics.  It’s certainly an easy conclusion to draw from the evidence if you consider only the superficial aspects of the problem, but my argument is a bit different.  I don’t believe that money corrupts politics nearly so much as politics corrupts money.  Money is merely a symbol of value. It’s a token we use in place of a barter system, since it’s far easier to exchange.  When you work, you’re creating value, but it’s difficult to exchange the value of that work directly to those from whom you would like to purchase, so the people to whom you sell your labor pay you in money, and then you take that money to all the places you would like to spend it.  This is the nature of money.  It’s an efficient system of exchange and it works quite well, right up until the moment you insert politics.  Rather than spend our time on a question I think misses the mark, let us now examine how politics corrupts money.

If you earn your money by honest labor, whether by manual or mental exertions, you are creating new wealth.  If you consider a block of wood, and you carve it into something fantastic, whether practical or artistic, if somebody will pay you more than it had cost you in materials and energy, that net payment is both an assessment of the value of your time and therefore also your profit.  Some of us are able to turn very little time into huge profits, while others of us are able to make only minimal profits on our time and exertions because what we are producing is not so valuable to others.  That is natural, and normal, and must always be the case.  The maker of candles will never be rewarded as highly as the person who invents a light bulb or the electric generation system to power it.  The reason is simple:  Almost anybody can make a candle.  Workers who can do this are numerous.  The mind that can imagine a light bulb or a generator are rarer, and therefore, their efforts are more valuable. It is the market in which you sell that labor that decides its worth.

Here is where politics enters to corrupt money:  Because candle-makers are more plentiful than inventors, they have many more votes.   They can turn to the political class and demand laws to make their candle-making unnaturally more valuable.  Politicians can follow a number of courses in response to the demands of the numerous candle-makers:

  • They can enact a law making candle-making more valuable than it is in fact
  • They can enact a law making inventors’ efforts less valuable than they are in fact
  • They can steal money from the inventor and give it to the candle-maker
  • They can say “No, property is property, you have yours, and the inventor has his!”

Which of these do you suppose the politicians is least likely to do, since it will not satisfy all his candle-making constituents, and thus will lose him his next re-election?  Of course, this situation becomes a good bit more complicated when we add competing inventors.  Suppose somebody comes along with an invention to replace the ordinary light bulb. Let us imagine that unlike compact florescent bulbs, it has no toxic mercury, and it’s much more efficient at the same brightness. If it’s also less expensive than the ordinary light bulb, and is in all measures a superior product, the market will answer by making it the new leader, and it will become the new ordinary light bulb in short order.  Now, the manufacturers of the older style light bulb will descend on politicians to demand protection of their market.  Politicians can respond in a number of ways:

  • They can enact a law outlawing the new style light bulb
  • They can enact a law requiring the use of the old style light bulb
  • They can add extra taxes to the manufacturer of the new style light bulb, driving up its cost
  • They can give a tax break to the manufacturer of the old style light bulb, driving down its cost
  • They can do nothing at all, and ignore contributions from the manufacturers of the old style bulb

Which of these options is the politician unlikely to choose?  Now let us imagine that the new light bulb is actually a terrible idea.  Let us imagine that it is filled with toxic mercury, and that in the long run, you’ll have EPA hazards created in your home if one breaks, and that while they are slightly more efficient, they are also annoying, and the light is actually modulating at a very high rate, and while barely perceptible to you, your eyes lead you to constant headaches, and besides the high frequency buzzing drives your pets insane, because they can hear frequencies you cannot.  Let us now imagine what politicians might do, not on behalf of the old style bulb manufacturers, but on behalf of the new ones:

  • They can enact a law outlawing the old style bulb
  • They can give tax credits to purchasers of the new style bulb
  • They can do nothing and let the market decide and skip the opportunity of contributions

Which of these have politicians actually done?

Now some will tell me this is all well and good, and merely proves their point, in that the money offered to politicians corrupted them.  Instead, I will tell you this is a lie, and now I will be happy to explain it if you missed what has really happened over the course of this post: The law was used as an instrument of enrichment by already corrupt  politicians.  They had no money apart from their salaries and immediate benefits, but in order to have more money, either in their own pockets, or in their campaign war chests, they used the law, your law, in each and every case to skim money from the system for their own purposes.  What this has the effect of doing is to change the market, and to change what people do in the market.  That means you are changing the value of the labor and the value therefore of money irrespective of what the market might prefer.  What you have done is to use politics to corrupt money.

There is an economic law, “Say’s law,” that tells us something about natural economic function, and it is that a supply creates its own demand.  The inverse and equally true corollary of this law tells us that without a supply, there can be no demand.  (Demand as an economic term, but not as a human behavior.)  What does this mean in the question of politics and money?  It means simply that you cannot purchase that which is not for sale.  No candle-maker, no light-bulb inventor, and no manufacturer of any sort can purchase influence that is not first offered for sale.  This is not a question of corruption by money, but of money.  When the politician uses his position and his legislation to influence the markets, whether he takes payment from a player in the market, or instead merely profits directly by his previous purchases in the market, this is not a matter of money corrupting politics.  It is the much more deadly issue of politics being used to corrupt money.

In every way, this upsets the natural order of the market.  Things that the market would find worthless are suddenly made precious, by law, and things that had been precious are made worthless, or even illegal to possess.  Any such action commits a fraud on all holders of money everywhere and at once.  What else could be the meaning of a law that imposes on you the purchase of compact florescent bulbs, that cost many times their traditional competitor, the incandescent bulb?  Do you have any doubt that most of the politicians who supported this law did so in order to profit in some way from the law, your law?  Notice, however, the ordering of cause and effect, and this will tell you which has corrupted the other, money or politics:  Which came first?  The political action, or the monetary result?  How many of these elected thieves had invested in GE or other CFL producers, before the enactment of the law, knowing what gains their investments would see once they made a law banning the good old incandescent bulb?

I am sympathetic to those who believe, innocently, that money corrupts politics, but the truth is something else:  Politics is being used to corrupt money.  When people make money by graft, it is the money that is corrupted.  It is a form of counterfeiting money, and since money is just an expression of value, what you must see if you’re to have any hope of reversing the trend is that the reason our system is so corrupt is not because of money, but because of those who use the law, and the power of government to extort, coerce, and otherwise gain money they haven’t really earned.  This is because government is involved in far too many things, and I’d ask you to consider Bastiat’s view of plunder to understand it.  If you want to solve the problem, don’t seek to get the money out of politics, but instead get politics and politicians out of money and markets.  That’s a real reform that could save our country.

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How Corrupt Is Washington DC?

Monday, November 14th, 2011

It's Worse Than You Thought

After a number of shocking disclosures including Nancy Pelosi’s Visa investments, and continuing scandals involving the President’s crony connections, what is becoming increasingly clear is that they don’t think they’ve done anything wrong.  So corrupt  has official Washington DC become that the people working there by and large do not see anything immoral in their behavior, since they may well have stayed within the laws.  Some are calling this “soft corruption,” but in truth, there’s nothing “soft” about it. That’s cold hard cash they’re raking in by virtue of insider information.  If you or I were to behave in the private sector as Minority Leaders Pelosi(D-CA) had behaved in her elected position, we would face imprisonment.  Of course, the larger problem is that Pelosi isn’t alone, and the corruption isn’t limited to Democrats.  As Big Government is reporting, Representative Spencer Bachus(R-AL) seems to have an uncanny ability to pick market winners with the most incredibly profitable sense of timing.  While his profits from the trading are small potatoes compared to Pelosi’s Visa profits, it’s indicative of how bad things have gotten.  On Sunday night, speaking with Stephen K. Bannon on his “Victory Sessions” radio show on KABC, Andrew Breitbart called for Bachus to resign.

How can we combat this?  These people have sworn an oath, and yet all too frequently, it seems the only allegiance they actually express isn’t to the people of the United States Constitution, but to their own wallets, and the purses of their cronies.  I believe we need to tighten up the laws on our Federal elected officials.  Peter Schweizer’s new book, Throw Them All Out, promises to reveal a number of instances of this pervasive corruption, and Spencer Bachus was just one of the people Schweizer’s book identifies as having serious problems.  The senior leadership of both parties in Congress have been playing this game for a long time, and this new book exposes the systemic breadth of the problem.  Throw Them All Out will be released officially on Tuesday.  Pelosi’s spokesman claimed that she’s not corrupt, and that the author of the book is merely a partisan attack dog, but if so, why did he go after Republicans too?

Since former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin began hammering on the issue of crony capitalism back in August, it’s become a more  visible issue.  Most people hadn’t really understood what all the fuss was about, or what the distinction between capitalism and crony capitalism really is.  They’re now learning. What can be done to curtail this sort of profiteering from elected office is another question.  Another complicated problem is how Congressional staff might also have access to confidential information, and thereby profit in the markets.  It’s difficult to know how we should draw the lines, and how to make rules difficult to circumvent.  After all, these are the people who write our laws, and if they can’t be trusted, neither can the laws they author be considered anything but suspect.  It makes one wonder about the political gamesmanship that goes on during crises, like the Debt Ceiling debacle of late July/early August: How might legislators have turned a profit from the wild gyrations of the market that they were effectively causing?  What about the S&P credit rating downgrade?  Who in Washington DC might have profited from that calamity?

These are all questions to which we must demand answers.  It’s not enough to simply pass campaign finance laws, because that hardly scratches the surface.  We must address the baseline of corruption that now seems to be the norm in our federal establishment, and it’s time we held our elected representatives to account.  If the people of Bachus’ or Pelosi’s districts don’t demand answers, it will provide us a new dilemma:  How can we defeat entrenched corruption when even the voters won’t eject their members of Congress?  We’ve seen this before.  It may well be time to do as Schweizer suggests:  Throw them all out. Now.

Here’s a nifty ad on the Pelosi Scandal:

“Fast and Furious” Should Be The Description of Holder’s Dismissal

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Avoiding Responsibility for Tragic Operation

On Thursday, Sarah Palin wrote a Facebook note that I covered here, demanding that President Obama fire Attorney General Eric Holder.  As this story continues, it’s clear that Holder isn’t going to take responsibility, and isn’t going to resign in shame as he should.  What makes it just that much worse is that this alleged public servant continues to make excuses for his malfeasance at the Department of Justice, and is stubbornly callous in his dealings with the parents of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry who was killed in 2010 with one of the guns that Fast and Furious placed into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.  In an act of flagrant disregard for the parents of Brian Terry, he released a semi-apology intended for the Terrys to the press before they had first received it.

Some take this action by Holder and the DoJ under his leadership as an act of cold-hearted folly, but while I am certain that Holder is cold-hearted, I believe it isn’t folly that has dictated his actions.  I believe Holder is a calculatingly cold-hearted villain.  This was done as a PR move with the press, since only days before he had refused to apologize to the family.  The letter was disclosed to Politico, the left-wing online political news-site responsible for digging up the Cain accusers, but Politico is now saying they won’t release it since it was supposed to have been private.  Really?  Isn’t this the same Internet rag that only two weeks ago was cajoling two Cain accusers and the National Restaurant Association to make the details of confidential agreements public?  Interesting it is how quickly times have changed.  As we know about Politico, it’s all about whose ox is being gored.

Tim Mak, writing for Politico said of Holder’s letter: (H/T DailyCaller)

“Eric Holder has told the grieving family of slain U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry that he is ‘sorry for the loss of your son’ and offered to meet with them,”

If accurate, it is a perfect example of a leftist’s so-called “apology:”  It’s feigned sympathy posing as an apology.  He might as well have said “I’m sorry you have the flu today.”  It would have been at least equally sincere, and no less an apology.  If Holder wanted to apologize, he could have said something about his responsibility in the matter, but he dare not admit that as at least 38 members of Congress are demanding Holder’s ouster.  I’ll be contacting my own Congressman to be sure he’s part of that list, and if not, to demand an explanation.

In related news, Terry’s parents, Kent and Josephine, have finally broken their public silence on the matter.  What appears to have anger them most was Holder’s excuse in testimony before the Senate, when in answer to Senator Cornyn, (R-TX) Holder said:

“There are 115,000 employees in the Department of Justice,”  and more: “I cannot be expected to know the details of every operation on a day-to-day basis.”

This isn’t about knowing the tiny details of every operation.  Holder shamelessly sets up a straw man in this statement: Nobody is asking him to know the details of every operation on a day-to-day basis.  They want to know how an operation like this could have been developed in the first place.  Holder shouldn’t have needed the day-to-day details to realize that this operation was wrong-headed.  It should never have left the planning stage.  The management of the DoJ should have prevented this from becoming an operation at all.  That means Eric Holder, of course, who has failed to take responsibility for the operation that went forward under his [mis]management.

Consider Holder’s words in response to Cornyn:

“I certainly regret what happened to Agent Terry. I can only imagine the pain that his family has had to deal with, particularly his mother. … We are not programmed to bury our kids. It pains me whenever there is the death of a law enforcement official, especially under the circumstances. It is not fair, however, to assume that the mistakes that happened in Fast and Furious directly led to the death of Agent Terry.”

Terry’s parents are right to view Holder’s attitude as one of brazen contempt, or at least shocking indifference.  There’s no excuse for Holder to remain in his post.  He has failed to discharge his duties with diligence, and the entire Department of Justice seems now to be engaged in a continuing suppression of the facts.  It’s time for the President to to step in and do his duty, exercise some fast fury of his own, and finally send Holder packing.  Holder must be made to account for this grotesquely stupid operation, but if the President won’t act, he must be held responsible too.

How Could They Cover Up The Rape of Children?

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Leaving the Field

Sexual assault is always an ugly act of violence, but the rape of children is something for which I believe we should employ the death penalty.  I don’t care what civil libertarians, humanitarians, and any other would-be do-gooder claims about how such would constitute cruel and unusual punishment.  It would at least begin to fit the crime.  Frankly, those who commit such wanton violence against children born of some perverse lust for power over the powerless should be dealt with no differently than we handle serial killers, except perhaps that we ought to be more severe.   I’m not a sports fan, but even I know of Joe Paterno, but I don’t care how great a coach he has been.  I don’t care how many victories he has amassed.  I don’t care what form of excuse some might wish to offer.  If this, or anything vaguely approximating a fraction of this goes on in your organization, and you know of it, you have a responsibility to take it to the police, the FBI, and whomever else may be available until justice is done.  More, if you see it going on, you must act to intervene.   No rational, respectable and decent person knows of such things and does what amounts to nothing.  For this, there can be no excuse, and to whatever degree the institution of Penn State is damaged, it should be.

Unsubstantiated rumors are now circulating in media that this may have been far worse than we had  imagined.  It may be that the charitable organization at the heart of these charges, the Second Mile  is nothing more than a front for a criminal enterprise to provide young children for the sexual appetites of a paying clientele.  Frankly, I hope that turns out to be wrong, because if it is true, it means that this scandal reaches much further into the society and culture of Penn State than most would ever have guessed, and it would mean that this institution needs a thorough clean-out.  Something is fundamentally broken there.

Let us now consider the students who rioted in support of Joe Paterno on Wednesday night.  I don’t understand what they could possibly be thinking.  How can anybody contend with a straight face that Paterno ought to be held blameless and harmless?   I realize that they are loyal to their school, its football team, and its coach, but this is a situation that completely obliterates such superficial concerns.  Ladies and gentlemen, football is a game, but the lives of the children who have been victimized are real.  I am astonished that students who are allegedly being taught to use their higher reasoning abilities could fail to recognize the distinction.

I’d also like to talk about Mike McQueary’s role.  He allegedly witnessed an incident involving Sandusky’s predations on a boy in a shower at the athletics complex on University grounds.  He turned around and went to report it?  Why didn’t he intervene?  That’s the action a responsible person must take, so in my view, he isn’t off the hook either.  Who among my readers is so confused about the criminal and moral implications of a sexual assault that when witnessing one in progress, would not intervene to stop it? I doubt any of my readers would be so thoroughly derelict.

I simply cannot imagine how excuses are being formulated for anybody involved in this case.  There is a story now circulating that the DA who failed to prosecute Sandusky back in 1998 has been missing since 2005, and is now listed officially as presumed dead.  The circumstances of his disappearance have never been resolved, and it’s leading to more probing questions about the Penn State scandal. There is rampant speculation that his disappearance might be linked in some way to this case.

What this case makes clear is what happens when people in positions of responsibility fail to act when given information about criminal conduct within their organizations.  This is simply sickening, and I am tired of all the excuse-making.  I don’t want to hear another word about how Mike McQreary is being threatened.  That he witnessed such an act and failed to intervene, and did not insist on the immediate involvement of the appropriate authorities is all I need to know that this is another case of misplaced sympathies.  In my view, he had a duty to act, and a moral obligation to see this acted upon in a timely manner.  Those who now wish to scapegoat the victims ought to turn their sympathy from Joe Paterno to the victims of these horrendous crimes. Late Thursday, both US Senators from Pennsylvania withdrew their support from Paterno’s nomination for the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

We need to get back to the notion of enacting justice, and justice can only begin by affixing blame where it is due.  This sickening display of rioting by students loyal to Joe Paterno is symptomatic of the narcissism rampant in our culture, whereby these rioters believe their needs and wants of the moment ought to supersede the pursuit of justice, and the assignment of responsibility.  That’s absurd.  These educated idiots ought to understand that there are consequences for every action, good or ill, in a just society, and demanding relief from consequences for one person ultimately leads only to relief for others, and no relief is due or proper in this case.  It’s sick.  It’s diseased thinking.  For every child who may have been abused since 2002, when McQueary witnessed what transpired in that shower,  he and everybody above him who reviewed or considered his report are guilty of aiding those subsequent abuses, by failing to pursue the original reports vigorously.  Remorse and shame simply are not enough.  Heads must roll.

 

Occupy Protests Unsafe for Women

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Unsafe for Women

The Occupiers have a serious problem, and it’s cropping up nationwide, and even internationally.  From reports gathered around the country, the Occupy movement is seeing a wave of sexual assaults among their own numbers, and finally, after being hushed by the organizers, the word is getting out.  There is a general sense that the Occupy protest sites are unsafe for women particularly, but in general, for anybody of any description.  Combined with the escalating violence we’ve witnessed over the last week or so, isn’t it time we begin to get a handle on all of this?  Of course, it’s not getting the mainstream coverage it should, and as BigGovernment.com revealed last week, there’s a good reason:  Some of the reporters covering this story are involved in the organization.  Cozy?  You bet!  The problem is that when it comes to the reporting on this allegedly “organic” protest, the media still isn’t telling you who is behind this, or what is going on at the protest sites.

In Baltimore, one woman says she was raped, and she begs for the event to be shut down.  The unidentified woman told Fox 45 WBFF that she was raped, and she said that nobody from the protest movement would help her.  It’s a sad story, but it’s becoming increasingly common at the Occupy rallies.  BigGovernment.com has the video.

On the international front, Occupy Ottawa(Canada) is having similar problems.  You can watch a video clip about complaints over sexual assaults at their rally:

Back in New York, at Zuccotti Park, some Occupiers are talking openly about the problem, but they’re trying to shift blame onto police.  They claim the police are intentionally ignoring problems of this sort, while directing homeless people to join the Occupiers in Zuccotti Park.  I find the claim laughable, because what this woman actually tells us is that the problem is real:

Brandon Darby, writing for BigGovernment, posted an article on the danger to women at the Occupy rallies.

It’s a zoo, and as long as public officials like Mayor Bloomberg continue to turn a blind eye to what is going on, I expect conditions to worsen at these rallies.  It’s time to send the Occupiers home, and it’s time for the police to step in and vigorously pursue the people committing serious crimes in the movement.  The Occupiers seem willing to shelter the criminals, and they make a good deal of noise about their “security committees,” but all they are really accomplishing by not bringing reports to the police is to aid and abet the felonious among their number.  For some of these people, it’s time to Occupy Jail.

Democrats Never Go Quietly

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

It Was a Mistake! I Swear!

In another case of thievery by public officials, a California Assembly member, Mary Hayashi, Democrat of Castro Valley, has been charged with felony theft after heading out the door of a San Francisco Nieman Marcus store with $2500 in clothing for which she had not paid.  She was apprehended by a security officer.   Hayashi is the wife of a Superior Court Judge in San Francisco, reports the Sacramento Bee. The Bee reports that her spokesman, Sam Singer has said that Hayashi is embarrassed, distraught and she apologizes for any misunderstanding, but she has no intention of resigning from office.  No, of course not.  Democrats never yield power until their own party chucks them overboard.  They always try to round up support and simply ride it out.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “She is one of the most respected members of the Assembly – a fine, upstanding citizen and a role model. This is a mistake and nothing more.”

Sure, it’s just a big misunderstanding. I think Weiner said something similar.  It’s just preposterous that these people are so hungry for power and have so much confidence in their connections to somehow get them off the hook.  Most Republicans simply resign in shame as they should, but not Democrats.  No, they fight tooth and nail for every moment they can, until it simply cannot be sustained any longer.

I don’t think much of most politicians, because I know that so many of them are corrupt in one fashion or another, but this is just ridiculous.  $2500 worth of clothes?  I’m not sure that I own $2500 worth of clothes.  She was walking out the door with that much in a single heist, er uh, “misunderstanding.”  I hope they throw the book at her, but it’s California, so I expect not.

Sexual Assault Being Hushed By Occupiers?

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Cold Prevails; Occupy Gets Too Cozy for Comfort

The New York Post is reporting that another sexual assault has occurred in the Occupy Wall Street tent city in Zuccotti Park.  You can read the story at the post, but what I find curious about the situation isn’t that another sexual assault has happened, but instead, the odd reaction of the victim, and of the Occupiers.  It suggests that something really ugly is going on in the OWS movement, and I think it is related to the story from yesterday from Joel Pollak at Breitbart about the media strategy of Occupy Wall Street.  They’re trying to make negative news related to their protest disappear, and in this case, it sounds as though the victim has been told to shut up about it.

This is another stark reminder of a different revolution, nearly a century ago, when women were told to shut up about rapes that happened among revolutionaries.  The Bolsheviks also insisted that women “take one for the team,” and not discredit their revolution by complaining about rape.  Could this be a sign that OWS really has regressed to the state of a century-old repressive reflex in the name of propaganda? Looking at the statements from the victim, it seems so.

From the post article:

A sex fiend barged into a woman’s tent and sexually assaulted her at around 6 a.m., said protesters, who chased him from the park.

“Pervert! Pervert! Get the f–k out!” said vigilante Occupiers, who never bothered to call the cops.

“They were shining flashlights in his face and yelling at him to leave,” said a woman who called herself Leslie, but refused to give her real name.

She said that weeks earlier another woman was raped.

“We don’t tell anyone,” she said. “We handle it internally. I said too much already.”

“Handle it internally?”  How can they “handle it internally?” These people aren’t a law unto themselves.  More, in saying “internally,” it’s an admission that the assault was carried out by another Occupier.  This wasn’t some rogue interloper who targeted an Occupier, but a fellow Occupier who carried on his assault.

Ladies and gentlemen, if nothing else tells you about the nature of Occupy Wall Street, this should be the thing that grabs your attention.  In order to minimize negative media coverage, this poor victim of a sexual assault is being asked to shut up for the sake of the movement.  That’s sick.  There’s something very unhealthy about any movement that seeks to silence victims within its own ranks in order to stave off negative publicity.  The Occupiers wish to be thought of as relatively harmless, in the same vein of the Tea Party, but I can guarantee you that no such perpetrator would be given cover by a Tea Party organization.

That’s the most amazing thing, because while there will be no police report, and no official pursuit or prosecution of the perpetrator, he will likely go free, able to pursue other women on the streets of New York, victimizing others because the OWS organization has promised this one victim that they will “handle it internally.”  Everybody who realizes what this means about the nature of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and how they are willing to close ranks around a sexual predator in order to preserve some notion of their purity is a sign that OWS is a diseased movement. I realize that one predator doesn’t define the movement, but permitting themselves to be associated with a movement that hushes sexual assault victims in order to avoid negative publicity is sick, and serious and thoughtful OWS members should flee this movement if they’re serious about individual liberties. It’s clear that if this is the operational direction of OWS, no civilized people should endorse it.