The Center for Responsive Politics documents how corporations and the rich’s money flows through multiple front groups to ultimately influence elections, but without traceability. This is not “one person, one vote.”
Chart: Political Parties and Deficit Spending
David Leonhardt’s opinion piece had a useful chart in it on which political party drives the deficit up more under their watch.
The one exception to Republican profligacy is the Great Recession of 20017-2011. That recession, of course, started under George W. Bush’s fiscal policies. Further, the first bank bailout bill was pushed through by the still-in-office Bush administration. Frontline’s documentary on the near collapse of our financial system in September 18, 2008 described this remarkable scene:
Hank Paulson, the rock rib conservative Republican free marketeer walked into an emergency meeting of the joint leadership of the US House and Senate, on a Thursday, asking for $700 billion of bailout authority, as the markets collapses and credit markets seized up. Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernacke told the lawmakers, “If we don’t do this tomorrow, we won’t have an economy on Monday”
This resulted in, of course, the eight year-long Obama administration easing the economy out of its nose dive and into a slow and long recovery.
And yet, somehow the Republican Party is viewed as the party of fiscal rectitude, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Source: NYT 4/16/18.
Film: Dark Money
I’m looking forward the summer release of this documentary film, Dark Money, on the history campaign finance reform in Montana from the 1880s to Citizens United.
Watch the film trailer here.
A century ago, corrupt money swamped Montana’s legislature, but Montanans rose up to prohibit corporate campaign contributions. Today, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision — which allows unlimited, anonymous money to pour into elections nationwide — Montana is once again fighting to preserve open and honest elections. Following an investigative reporter through a political thriller, DARK MONEY exposes one of the greatest threats to American democracy.
Watch an interview with the director here.
A Primer on Gerrymandering
A good article from Brookings Institute on the origins and purpose of gerrymandering.
“A new species of Monster, which appeared in Essex South District in Jan. 1812,”
Chart: US Companies non-US Workforce
Companies with some of the highest paid US executives have also off-shored a large percentage of their workforce to cheaper countries.
Source: WSJ 4/11/18.
Chart: Overtime Hours for Manufacturing Workers
Source: WSJ 4/12/18.
Chart: Facebook Users
Facebook has grown from less than 100 Million users in 2005 to more than 2 Billion users in 2018, despite repeated questions about its use of user data.
Source: WSJ 4/13/18.
Democracy For Sale
“Our democracy is not supposed to be a tug of war between a couple of billionaires on the left and a couple of billionaires on the right,”
“Our democracy is not supposed to be a tug of war between a couple of billionaires on the left and a couple of billionaires on the right.”
Yes, unfortunately, it is.
As the charts below show, the billionaire class writes big checks to candidates and partisan campaign committees. Why? Because they want access to the politicians, once in office, to influence both the legislative agendas and the actual text of laws.
While we have a roughly and anachronistically speaking a “one man, one vote” democracy for elections, that doesn’t mean the output of our republican system of government is representative of the will of the people, because most people don’t have equal access to the candidates and office holders.
Source: NYT 4/13/18.
See other posts on this topic tagged #campaign finance, and below.
I’m shocked, shocked politicians doing the bidding of their campaign contributors
Comparison: Authoritarianism vs. Liberal Democracy
Excerpts from a David Brooks article on Putin and Trump provide a useful initial comparison table between authoritarianism and liberalism democracy.
[table id=1 /]
Source: NYT 4/2/18.
Chart: Our Anesthetized Nation
George Lucas’ 1971 dystopian view of the technologically controlled industrial society, THX-1138, envisioned the the merging of the big data / surveillance state, the big industrialization state, the robot controlled police state, and the sedation of the populace. In the below excerpt, members of this dystopian society open their medicine cabinet to a face of a camera and an upbeat voice asking, “What’s wrong?”
We can debate the trajectory and pace of our 21st century democracy toward, or away from, Lucas’ 25th century dystopia. If current trends continue, there will be one significant difference from Lucas’ medical control of the population hypothesis: Our society is on track for the private medicalization of the citizenry. There are white markets (big pharma and media), gray markets (legalized alcohol and marijuana), and black markets (illegal drugs such as opioids (see below)).
Today’s Times charts the increased rate of overall usage and long-term dependence on anti-depressants.
Long-Term Antidepressant Usage
Source: NYT 4/8/18.
Opioid Related Deaths, 2015
Source: The Economist.com, 4/8/18.
Drug Deaths by Race
Source: NYT 12/22/17.
See also this blog post on urban v. rural differences in emergency room admissions by substance type.