Politics is a Scam – Why I Will Never Vote Again

I had five seconds to make the secretive most powerful man in the world like me so I could potentially make millions. “James,” Bill McCluskey said to me, “this is Alan Quasha.” Bill was CEO of Brean Murray, one of the mini-banks I considered selling my fund of hedge funds to in 2006. We had a deal on the table and I was desperate at the time to make it work. The table was circular, there were papers on it with numbers, I was bullshitting every which way I could about “synergies”. Whatever. That was months later. But first I had to meet Alan Quasha, the owner of Brean Murray, at an event they were throwing, and he had to like me. Because…

(Have you heard of Alan Quasha before this post? And there he is with Ivan Boesky’s daughter. Go figure.)

Alan Quasha squinted his eyes, shook my hand. He had no idea who I was. I certainly wasn’t anything like George W. Bush, the man Quasha had personally saved in 1986. The man Bush owes his sobriety to. In 1986  Bush was CEO of some oil company that was going down in flames. Possibly the worst oil company in Texas history.

Some calls were made and Quasha’s Harken Oil bought Bush’s company for millions of dollars. Then, of course, a few years later, Bush sold his shares in Quasha’s Harkin Oil right before Harkin Oil announced a mega-loss and the stock tanked. Bush used his profits to buy a stake in the Texas Rangers, sold that stake later for 10-15 million dollars and was finally able to follow his father’s sage advice (“don’t go into politics until you get rich” ***).

Let’s spell out what that means: if Alan Quasha called up W on September 12, 2001 in the middle of Bush pouring over maps of the jungles of Afghanistan to see where we would invade (do they have jungles in Afghanistan? Do we really need an “h” in Afghanistan?), Bush would say “hold all calls”, close the doors of the Oval Office and say “Hi Daddy Number 2″, to Quasha. He owed his life, his livelihood, the Texas Rangers, the Presidency, all to Alan Quasha and now I was shaking Quasha’s hand. I had five seconds to make Alan Quasha like me almost as much as he liked Bush so he would buy my company. Why? Alan Quasha was Chairman of Brean Murray.

Fast-forward about ten seconds. Alan Quasha had moved on. Now I was being introduced to Terry Mcauliffe. Terry was the Vice-Chairman of Brean Murray. Terry was known in most circles as “Bill Clinton’s best friend”. Terry raised the bulk of the money for the two Presidential campaigns that Bill was in (the first, of course, where he crushed Bush, the Elder). I’m guessing Terry also raised the money for all of Hillary’s political races. If Chelsea Clinton ever ran for Mayor of New York (now that Weiner is out of the running so you never know) I bet Terry would raise all the money for her race as well.

So there you have it. The biggest mastermind in Republican politics, the behind the scenes mover and shaker across the entire Bush family, was Chairman of the company. And the biggest mover-and-shaker in Democrat politics, was Vice Chairman. The war of values, between Democracy and Republicanism that our founders had fought for, had shed blood for, was over between them, if it ever even existed. Screw “The Federalist Papers”! Let’s make some money!

You see why your vote is useless? Not only is it useless, it’s scary. A female friend of mine told me: “it was like the biggest orgasm I had felt in the past 10 years of my marriage” when Obama became President.

But then what happened? Obama extended Bush’s tax cuts, kept Bush’s Secretary of Defense, extended the wars in Afganistan and Iraq, didn’t close Guantanamo Bay, and fought for a healthcare that’s now being disputed (and overturned) in every court in America. What else has he done? I can’t think of it. Planned Parenthood has less government funding now than under Bush. Africa has less funding from the US than under Bush (in fact, Obama has bombed Africa / Libya).

And yet we all fought so much. “Palin is an idiot!” “Biden can’t speak straight!” “Where’s Obama’s birth certificate!” “Is McCain senile?”!  “!”!”!” Let’s fight in the streets and pass out pamphlets and wear buttons and lose friends (“I can’t believe he’s voting for Nader!”) and stick on bumper stickers that can never be scratched off once we realize they are as embarrassing as that magic dragon tattoo we got lasered across our backs when we were 17.

We fought so hard for beliefs we all thought we had and where do they all end up? Where does it all congeal together right before it flushes down the toilet?

Answer:

One is Chairman and the other is Vice-Chairman of the same company. They’re all laughing together. Slapping backs. Making Money. They are laughing at you and me, my friend. The war is over for them.

We voted them all in there, they served their time, and now they are minting money as if they own the printing press. I watched Quasha and McCaulliffe laugh, sitting next to each other when they used to pretend to be sitting so far apart.

They have no idea who I am, what I want out of life, what ideas I think are good or bad, or would save the world, or whatever. They were laughing as hard as they could just ten feet from me and I knew while I stood there watching them, hoping beyond hope that they would share some of the wealth, I knew that they were laughing at me.

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My visit with the President of the United States

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*** Net worth of most recent Presidents and Vice-Presidents (according to celebritynetworth.com)

  • Barack Obama: $5 million (will probably end up around a billion)
  • George W. Bush: $26 million
  • Bill Clinton $85 million (my guess is this is understated by about $50-100 million.)
  • George H.W Bush: $15 million (I think this is understated by about a billion)
  • And now the big question: Al Gore versus Dick Cheney? Democrats versus Republicans. The winner is….
  • Al Gore, coming in at $300 million with Dick Cheney at $90 million (don’t forget Gore was an advisor to Google since 2001 and on the Board of Apple. He also manages a billion dollar “green fund”). Al Gore’s net worth in 2001: $1 million.

To get a sense of how I edit you can see the original version of this post here.

[Update: someone asked on twitter, “whats the alternative?” My response on twitter: ” better if it was a true democracy (instead of a republic) and better if all advertising was banned except for equal air time as the president.” ]

Read More: How To Be The Luckiest Guy On the Planet in 4 Easy Steps. 

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  • http://twitter.com/Shootables Shootables

    DANG James were we separated by birth.

  • http://www.andrewriley.net Andrew

    On this one I agree with you 100% brother.  I think the last good President was George Washington.  I just vote for the free stickers.

    • Anonymous

      Couldn’t agree more.  It’s been a downhill slide for liberty and freedom since the day the Constitution was ratified.

  • http://twitter.com/kamalravikant Kamal Ravikant

    Sobering.  Am torn, James.  Yes, politics is a gong show, but the concept of religious fanatics running the country really bothers me and makes me vote.  Or perhaps that is just another story painted over the truth.   

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Thats a good point. We definitely don’t want religious fanatics or any sort of fanatics running the show. My guess is, though, that’s a marketing tactic used by the centrists in each party to solidly keep control, i.e. if you don’t vote for us then you risk getting the fanatics.

      My guess is the fanatics really never have a chance and so far, they’ve never really gotten close in either party (hence the Republicans were able to nominate someone as meaningless as Dole in 1996 – meaningless in the sense that he had no chance). I’m trying to think of the last extremist nominated by either party. One can argue McGovern in 1972 but he was mainstream enough to be a lifelong senator. Maybe Reagan was extremist but he never really acted on any of his extremist tendencies (he was probably secretly pro-choice and the whole “Star Wars” thing was a sham).

      Most extremists end up on third parties (Strom Thurmond in 1948, George Wallace in 1968) with no real chance at winning.

      • Kurt

        McGovern, once he left politics, started a business. He then went broke because of all the regulations he had a hand in passing. He later admitted those regulations were a bad idea. They hampered his business from being a success.

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

          Funny. I had no idea. He should’ve hung out with Quasha.

        • Matt

          Generally, the politicians voting on laws are the least informed on those laws and the repercussions they may cause.  

          Enter “lobbying”.

          If anyone was really serious about improving the country we’d have independent financial scholars/analysts (who can’t accept contributions or accept jobs on wallstreet) voting on financial issues, tech analysts voting on tech issues etc.

          Instead we have Larry and Sarah Schmo politician voting on extremely important laws they have no understanding of, who will also vote based on party lines which often have nothing to do with what’s actually at stake.

          • mc4ronpaul

            Matt, you’re falling into the trap of believing that if only we had enlightened bureaucrats then we’ have an efficient, “good government.” 

            This is simply not true.  Although having experts vote, I suppose, would be marginally better than not, the myth that we need a class of enlightened central planners has never been borne out in reality.  After all, isn’t Ben Bernanke supposed to be an expert?  How’s that working out?

            In reality, only decentralized power and each individual following their own self interest in a free market leads to efficient economies.  Let’s just get the government out of the marketplace altogether.  

          • Fubar

            Most large/institutional wealth (corporate plutocracy) would fight “real” free market reforms.

            Ron Paul has stated clearly that such “corporatism” distorts how free markets operate.

            “Good” government is supposed to protect individual poperty rights (in court, not via regulatory agencies), but instead it is being used to promote the interests of corporations and the ultra-wealthy over those of working people.

      • http://twitter.com/weezrichardet Wes Richardet

        3rd parties have no chance. Even the “Tea Party”, which was Libertarian is being scooped up into the Republican Camp. 

    • Matt

      But you don’t mind Obama saying “God Bless America” in front of 300 million people?  You don’t mind that he refuses to support gay marriage?  If you feed into the fanatics because you’re scared to lose a vote then you might as well be one of them.

  • http://twitter.com/Shootables Shootables

    I don’t vote. You don’t vote. I think college is a big scam. You think college is a scam. I do a daily practice. you do a daily practice. I want everyone to like me. you want everyone to like you.

    Actually my vote counts. i get an absentee ballot and let my friend who is a local Dem operative fill it out for me. It makes her sooo happy. How could i deny her that. She don’t even care when i tease her and say they are all the same crooks and there is just one big party of retards that say the same libelous platitudes over and over. The thing that amazes me is how cheap a politicians CONVICTIONS can be bought. At least GW held out for some real coin!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WLMDYQOYXLELO62DYXO6KLDFDE Michael

     I agree.
     I mean, who are we kidding. Look at the French guy who was head of the IMF. He was a SOCIALIST and he was living in a luxury suite that costs more for one night than my yearly rent. WTF? 
    Al Gore is worth a $billion. And they some how convince people that they are not corrupt. It blows my mind.

    • http://twitter.com/Real_Leiderman Real_LEIDERMAN

      Maybe you are confusing SOCIALISTS with COMMUNISTS.  Communists want to distribute all wealth evenly.  Socialists want the government to handle certain things that they can do better than the private sector. 

      Is Al Gore corrupt?  Did he get a billion dollars to pass legislation?  No, he did so through investments and work.  Did he have to bend his views of what is right to appease his campaign funders?  Yes, just like every other politician in our country.  This will continue to be the case until all private money is banned from politics and campaigns are 100% publicly funded.  Unfortunately, our right wing supreme court just swung in the other direction and now allows for unlimited donations to Super PACS. 

      • Fubar

        Please read Robert Reich (who was kicked out of the Clinton administration for telling the truth) on State Capitalism.

        Also, answer the question: Where has Howard Dean been?

        Corrupt people like Al Gore are “set up” by THE SYSTEM to be able to make enormous $ through their “investments and hard work”.

        The manipulation of the system in such manner is the very definition of “corruption”.

        Progressives/liberals are just as complicit in the scam as are “conservatives” (Clinton got in bed with big money to gain power).

        • http://twitter.com/Real_Leiderman Real_LEIDERMAN

          I said 100% publicly financed elections.  I said no outside money in politics.  Not just for one side or the other.

          Howard Dean was the chairman of the DNC.  Now he makes policy speeches and makes appearances on TV news.  Point well made?

          Yes Al Gore was set up for success by being VP.  People will pay to hear you talk and invest in your business plans once you have reached that point.

          • Fubar

            Yes, in other words, Al Gore is a glaring example of corrupt state capitalism.

            As are Gore’s ideological opposite: the Koch Bros.

            http://exiledonline.com/the-koch-whore-archipelago-how-the-billionaire-kochs-screwed-my-scoop-while-screwing-america/

            excerpt:
            …here’ s a quick study guide that might help you understand why the Kochs really are very, very different:
            From the time they founded the Tea Party in 2009 to today, their wealth shot up from 28 billion to 44 billion, nearly 60 percent; They led the campaign against health care; The Kochs spend more fighting climate change than anyone or any company in the world; The Kochs bankrolled Scott Walker; The Kochs wrote Bush’s environmental policies; Cato wrote the Republican Congress’s 1995 legislative agenda, acting as the think-tank for Tom DeLay and Dick Armey. The Kochs control up to 35,000 miles of pipelines in the US and Canada, enough to circle the globe 1-1/2 times.
            —end excerpt—

            Howard Dean was muzzled by Obama (largely removed from the national scene), after playing his role in removing Hillary from contention (DNC wanted to avoid another Bill Clinton sex scandal, which is always brewing). Howard Dean’s screaming populism clashed with Obama’s “style over substance” operational style.

            100% public funding of elections will never be allowed by the SCOTUS given their need to prop up current corrupt system, which placed them in power on the SCOTUS.

            An unvarnished examination of the problems with american culture and politics:

            http://fabiusmaximus.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/26538/

            | Origins of what may become the 3rd American Republic (a plutocracy)| 8 April 2011
            | tags: constitution, david runciman| by Fabius Maximus
            | Summary:  The article excerpted here provides a powerful explanation for the evolution of our political system during the| past 35 years to favor the super-rich, becoming in effect a plutocracy.  It even provides an excuse for us, the citizens.|  If you consider ignorance and apathy to be excuses.| Review by David Runciman (teaches politics at Cambridge) in the London Review of Books, 14 April 2011 — It’s open to| non-subscribers, and well-worth reading in full.  If you don’t subscribe, I recommend doing so!|| Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World by Nicholas Shaxson| Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer – and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class| by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson| It happened because law-makers and public officials allowed it to happen, not because international markets, or| globalisation, or differentials in education or life-chances made it inevitable.  It was a choice, driven by the pressure| of lobbyists and other organisations to create an environment much more hospitable to the needs of the very rich.|  It was even so a particular kind of politics and a particular kind of choice.|| It wasn’t a conspiracy, because it happened in the open.  But nor was it an explicit political movement, characterised| by rallies, speeches and electoral triumphs.  It relied in large part on what Hacker and Pierson call a process of drift:| ‘systematic, prolonged failures of government to respond to the shifting realities of a dynamic economy’.  More often| than not the politicians were persuaded to do nothing, to let up on enforcement, to look the other way, as money| moved around the globe and up to the very top of the financial chain.  This chimes with what Shaxson says about the| way the offshore system was allowed to develop over the last four decades.  Here too there was no real conspiracy,| because there was no real need. Instead, it happened because ‘nobody was paying attention.’| … It is easy to assume that if the rich have been winning in recent decades, the process must have started with the| election of the pro-big business, anti-big government Ronald Reagan in 1980 (and concomitantly, Margaret Thatcher| in Britain in 1979).  But Hacker and Pierson argue that the real turning point came in 1978, during the presidency of| Jimmy Carter.  This was the year the lobbyists and other organised groups who were pushing hard to relax the burden| of tax and regulation on wealthy individuals and corporate interests discovered that no one was pushing back all that hard.  —end excerpts—Also see Rabbi Michael Learner’s book “Surplus Powerlessness…” which carefully documents how the liberal political establishment has “sold out” for many generations in order to maintain a false facade of legitimacy.What Learner documents in that book, as well as at his website ww.tikkun.com, is how american leftosm/progressivism became useless and discredited as a real form of opposition to the corporatist/plutocratic elements that are destroying the democratic replublic.Learner occasionally advocates for transpartisan politics and integral theory.

  • Kurt

    I have never missed an election since I registered at age 18. I vote for everything. If others don’t vote, I have no problem with it. It just makes my vote more powerful. … Regarding the president. On the campaign trail they say anything to get elected. But once they get in office and get the intelligence reports and all other information that the general public doesn’t, it seems they all act basically the same then. I would have to be a fly on the wall in all presidential meetings to find out if I would react the same way.

  • http://www.fairhavenadvisors.com geckler

    I dunno I think it makes sense and is kind of cool how the values and opinions of all voters from different backgrounds and educations all a part of a bizarre collection of breathing, speaking, crapping species is watered down and synthesized to become mostly incoherent, compromised moderate drivel! I almost feel like if I got my way on every issue I’d then be afraid one day some radical illiterate hick would get his way! Perhaps there’s something existential about our political system in American. Maybe nobody is suppose to get there way – EVER-  and it’s just a big sociological exercise every 2 or 4 years to make us feel better. Maybe you’re not getting your exercise James…

    • Matt

      You’re completely missing the point.  And what’s the point of your comment anyway other than to be self-serving?

      • Fubar

        “some radical illiterate hick ” = Bush II.

        More precisely, Bush APPEALED to “illiterate kicks” (evangelical conservatives, etc.) to get elected. This was Carl Rove’s “genius”.

        This raises the question of how such backward, simple people could become a significant enough voting block.

        Many traditionalists had deep fear of the culture being driven over the edge of an abyss of narcissism and meaninglessness by postmodern culture.

        Those fears where manipulated by Neocons like Bush/Rove for completely cynical reasons.

        The resulting damage to the foundation of the Republic was profound, and may never be reversed.

  • http://www.raptitude.com David Cain

    Hi James. I don’t vote anymore, and it’s not because I’m particularly disillusioned with the menu (not that I’m not!) but because casting an individual vote is an effectively zero-leverage tool for changing society.

    For everyone reading this, the following statement is almost certainly true: Every single major election you’ve ever voted in would have had the same result whether you had voted or not. Not because of corruption, but because the chances that your single vote changes the outcome are astronomical. As long as the margin of victory is greater than the number of votes you are allowed (which is one, hopefully) then you did not affect the outcome.

    People hate to hear this and will argue all sorts of ways that despite the clear futility of it, there is still some moral duty to vote. But then why is there no moral duty to do something that might actually stand a chance of changing the outcome? Campaigning for your candidate, for example, could swing multiple votes, and if you’re good at it you might stand a non-negligible chance of changing the result. Few bother, yet will still berate others for not “contributing”.

    There are plenty of ways to affect the course of society, and voting is a resoundingly poor one. Writing a great article, for example, gives a person *far* more leverage to change minds and push cultural angles than privately dropping a bean in one’s preferred box.

    Loving your blog, glad to have found it.

    • Fubar

      Good point. Voting is necessary but not sufficient.

      Action is needed to stop the damage that the manipulation of public opinion by entrenched special interests has caused to democracy.

      The first step people can take is to DESCHOOL from and UNLEARN dysfunctional cultural anti-patterns. 

      re: PLACES TO INTERVENE IN A SYSTEM

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve_leverage_points

      excerpt:

      The twelve leverage points to intervene in a system were proposed by Donella Meadows, a scientist and system analyst focused on environmental limits to economic growth. The leverage points, first published in 1997, were inspired by her attendance at a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) meeting in the early 1990s where she realized that a very large new system was being proposed but the mechanisms to manage it were ineffective.
      Meadows, who worked in the field of systems analysis, proposed a scale of places to intervene in a system. Awareness and manipulation of these levers is an aspect of self-organization and can lead to collective intelligence.
      Her observations are often cited in energy economics, green economics and human development theory.
      She started with the observation that there are levers, or places within a complex system (such as a firm, a city, an economy, a living being, an ecosystem, an ecoregion) where a “small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything” (compare: constraint in the sense of Theory of Constraints).
      She claimed we need to know about these shifts, where they are and how to use them. She said most people know where these points are instinctively, but tend to adjust them in the wrong direction. This understanding would help solve global problems such as unemployment, hunger, economic stagnation, pollution, resources depletion, and conservation issues.
      Meadows started with a 9-point list of such places, and expanded it to a list of twelve leverage points with explanation and examples, for systems in general.
      —end—

      Also see:

      http://www.panarchy.org/koestler/holon.1969.html

      excerpt
      Arthur KoestlerSome general properties of
      self-regulating open hierarchic order (SOHO)(1969)

      Note
      The idea of the “holon” was introduced by Arthur Koestler in The Ghost in the Machine (1967) and was presented again at the Alpbach Symposium (1968) in a paper titled: Beyond Atomism and Holism – the concept of the holon.The “holon” represents a very interesting way to overcome the dichotomy between parts and wholes and to account for both the self-assertive and the integrative tendencies of an organism.
      The following text is the Appendix to the intervention at the Alpbach Symposium, whose acts were published in 1969 as a book edited by Arthur Koestler and J. R. Smythies with the title Beyond Reductionism.

      10.1 Critical challenges to an organism or society can produce degenerative or regenerative effects.

      10.2 The regenerative potential of organisms and societies manifests itself in fluctuations from the highest level of integration down to earlier, more primitive levels, and up again to a new, modified pattern. Processes of this type seem to play a major part in biological and mental evolution, and are symbolized in the universal death-and-rebirth motive in mythology.

      —end—

      • SpecosaurusRex

        Thanks for the Dana Meadows link.  Her “Points to intervene in systems” is a good read.  if she were alive today, and participating in this comment thread on to-vote-or-not-to-vote, I think she’d urge you to vote, but with your eyes WIDE open to the whole machine, the system.  She wrote many essays on civics and where you could make serious change happen (often at the local level), but she didn’t subscribe to abdicating civic responsibility at the national electoral level.  She aptly noted that the Reagan Revolution, was one of those times the election of a leader by the people ended up changing the trajectory of the whole nation, because what was elected was not a leader, but a new set of goals.

        As she put it at the time:
        “A theory of systems analysis sheds some light on why a leader can — sometimes — change the course of a nation. It says that the most powerful determinant of the behavior of any system, from a sports team to a corporation to a country, is not its particular pieces or players, not its physical structure, not its rules and laws. The primary determinant is its set of goals, what it orients itself around and coordinates its energies for.”

        • Fubar

          S.Rex,

          Thanks for the excellent feedback.

          To summarize: Meadows stated that the most powerful lever for change is a paradigm shift.

          Meadows probably hoped for a shift toward Holistic, Sustainable values, and a more “authentic” form of culture.

          Not all paradigm shifts are the same, some are deeper than others.

          Reagan was an exploiter and opportunist who did enormous damage by pandering to the worst instincts of the most backward, greedy and unenlightened people in the USA.

          Reagan was an instrument of Plutocracy, not anything really “new”, except that the possibilities for Neoconservative success rose considerably in reaction to the manner in which the left/progressive forces of opposition to Plutocracy became discredited just before Reagan was put in power.

          The ultimate sell-out by the liberal establishment was when Bill Clinton got in bed with the Plutocrats, but there was “death by a thousand cuts” for 100 years before that.

          (It did not help that most of the liberal establishment “went along with” political correctness and thought policing as postmodernism became a pervasive force of intellectual corruption on the left.)

          Deep reform of america’s problem will not be accomplished by a return to discredited leftism/progressivism/liberalism, rather by adoption of a deep paradigm shift toward Integralism and Holism.

          Holistic and Integral values are the only source for a authentic form of “new” culture (and morality) that can provide the creativity necessary to innovate and overcome america’s problems.

          Integral theory attempts to respond the problems created by modernist rationalism and postmodernist pluralism/relativism (“mean green meme”).

  • Matt

    I watched Inside Job today.  If you want any insight into what politics truly is just watch this documentary.

    Our political system is corrupt and broken.  You’d think after one of the biggest financial disasters in the history of the world we’d see radical change, and much tougher regulation right?  Especially from a President who’s slogan was “CHANGE”.

    The reality of it is the people responsible for it were never held accountable, and the 5 or so heads of the firms who are directly responsible for the collapse personally profited over 1 billion dollars (yes, personally).  They didn’t have to give anything back, and their severance packages were worth 90-150+ million. 

    Oh, by the way, Obama appointed some of these key figures to head various departments in our Government.  Hello, anyone out there?  Did anyone hear what I just said?

    Regulation to prevent this from happening again?  Almost nill.  Bonus payouts are actually higher now than during their most profitable years leading up to the collapse.  But they earned it!!!!! Right.  Dig a little deeper.

    If they made a movie about this (well, I guess they did, called ‘Too Big To Fail’) you would literally say that’s impossible, the story is too ridiculous, that would never happen turn this fake shit off.

    Politics and big business are essentially one body these days.  You can legally bribe…err, sorry, “lobby” politicians and Govt. departments to vote in your favor.  It’s a revolving door between the two, after the politicians help the private interest they are then awarded with lobbying jobs, positions on the board, or any # of other things…all jobs paying from 350k+ to millions and millions of dollars.

    Did you know some of the highest positioned business professors at some of the top schools (Harvard, Cornell, etc) are in wall streets pockets?  They literally shape what is taught at the school to best benefit Wall Street.  They also write papers to shape public opinion (and are paid  in excess of 6 figures for these bogus reports)……these are Professors at the highest level of education doing this.  Nothing is sacred anymore.  Throw that fact out there James next time some asshole gets on your case about College.

    Fun side note: ICE, DHS & John Morton are some of the most corrupt Govt. departments we have, they are literally acting as a private police force for the big content companies.  Those are your tax dollars hard at work folks.

    • michael

      Inside Job was good at identifying the problem but ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE at prescribing a solution. 

      It places blame on deregulation and free markets over and over again. More regulation from our government is not the solution. Maybe regulation from incorruptible Angels or Jesus might work but I do not believe that would be the case.

      Power should be diffused. Liberty to life and property should be protected. Free markets do work when they are truly free. 

      • The Kosmik Kid

        Bravo, Michael! The comments here point out the true problem: people understand they are being skinned alive, but their answer is to give a bigger, sharper knife to the skinner. Until humankind learns to live together without a coercive government with a monopoly on the use of force, nothing will ever change.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IIFXZ3WRYVDYRXW234EHWPDD2I Betsy

          We need Dexter to take all the corrupt politicians out. 

      • The Kosmik Kid

        Bravo, Michael! The comments here point out the true problem: people understand they are being skinned alive, but their answer is to give a bigger, sharper knife to the skinner. Until humankind learns to live together without a coercive government with a monopoly on the use of force, nothing will ever change.

      • http://harry-canary.myopenid.com/ Harry Canary

        Yes we should not have laws against robbery or rape or murder just let people live together that’s the ticket.  And people should just use common sense on how to drive.  Those traffic laws all just make things worse because people will try to fudge speed and drink and stuff.  Yeah man.

        The banks have proven again the need for regulation.  When left to themselves they pushed the envelope till everything fell apart then run to us whining for a bailout.  Corporations have proven again and again they will abuse workers and dump garbage in the environment, poison water and cheat customers given a chance.  Rules need to be written and enforced.  The fact that republicon efforts to minimize regulation and cut back enforcement left us with ineffective laws does not prove the laws bad.  Something needs to be in place to check and balance the power of inherited wealth and big corporations.  Unions , government, do you have any real world alternatives?  Checks and balances are necessary for the system to work.  The free markets do not exist except in some pencil headed libertarians imagination or ivory tower theory.  All markets are to some degree impeded or outright fixed.  Political checks and balances have to be in place to keep the whole thing from imploding as was proved in 2008, 1929 and about every 10 years prior to that.  Your imaginary free markets are wonderful, like any other fairy tale, but they only exist in your imagination.

        • Ringlis44

          To steal from James for a sec – it is our fault that we bailed banks out (or gave them the opportunity to need a bail out), and allowed corps to ‘abuse’ workers and dump garbage, poison water and cheat. 

          Its simple – you don’t like what a company does because its a crappy company, don’t buy from it.  Don’t let your friends buy from it.  If no one buys from it, how can it exist?  As James might say – you ignore it.  ‘Company who?’ if asked about it.  Unlike people, you ignore a company it will cease to exist – permanently.  

          And for checks and balances, who’s going to write them?  The Dali Lama?  The Pope?  Who is without bias or so incorruptible (or omnipotent) that they can put in place those balances without fail – always.

          No, I think I’ll follow Jame’s advice.  Ignore the crappy things in life, embrace the Happy things, be grateful for the truly good things and show compassion for the things in pain.

          • Fubar

            You seriously underestaimate how the manipulative structures of State Capitalism make the kind of corrective competition you rightly advocate difficult, if not impossible.

            State Capitalism tends to act against competition that is not in the interests of maintaining the system of state capitalism.

            The political culture of independence that is required for healthy democracy was largely destroyed in the last 100 years as small independent, family farms near urban centers were destroyed by public schooling and real estate development. (John Taylor Gatto has extensively documented the historical relationship between public education and developers.)

            Without independence in the economy, there is no political independence.

            http://attackthesystem.com/free-enterprise-the-antidote-to-corporate-plutocracy/

            (broken URL: http://attackthesystem.com/
            free-enterprise-the-antidote-to-corporate-plutocracy/ )

            Also see:

            http://www.rheingold.com/vc/book/10.html

            see this section:

            The Selling of Democracy: Commodification and the Public Sphere

            There is an intimate connection between informal conversations, the kind that take place in communities and virtual communities, in the coffee shops and computer conferences, and the ability of large social groups to govern themselves without monarchs or dictators. This social-political connection shares a metaphor with the idea of cyberspace, for it takes place in a kind of virtual space that has come to be known by specialists as the public sphere. Here is what the preeminent contemporary writer about the public sphere, social critic and philosopher Jurgen Habermas, had to say about the meaning of this abstraction: By “public sphere,” we mean first of all a domain of our social life in which such a thing as public opinion can be formed. Access to the public sphere is open in principle to all citizens. A portion of the public sphere is constituted in every conversation in which private persons come together to form a public. They are then acting neither as business or professional people conducting their private affairs, nor as legal consociates subject to the legal regulations of a state bureaucracy and obligated to obedience. Citizens act as a public when they deal with matters of general interest without being subject to coercion; thus with the guarantee that they may assemble and unite freely, and express and publicize their opinions freely. In this definition, Habermas formalized what people in free societies mean when we say “The public wouldn’t stand for that” or “It depends on public opinion.” And he drew attention to the intimate connection between this web of free, informal, personal communications and the foundations of democratic society. People can govern themselves only if they communicate widely, freely, and in groups–publicly. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights protects citizens from government interference in their communications–the rights of speech, press, and assembly are communication rights. Without those rights, there is no public sphere. …Because the public sphere depends on free communication and discussion of ideas, as soon as your political entity grows larger than the number of citizens you can fit into a modest town hall, this vital marketplace for political ideas can be powerfully influenced by changes in communications technology. According to Habermas, When the public is large, this kind of communication requires certain means of dissemination and influence; today, newspapers and periodicals, radio and television are the media of the public sphere. . . . The term “public opinion” refers to the functions of criticism and control or organized state authority that the public exercises informally, as well as formally during periodic elections. Regulations concerning the publicness (or publicity [Publizitat] in its original meaning) of state-related activities, as, for instance, the public accessibility required of legal proceedings, are also connected with this function of public opinion. To the public sphere as a sphere mediating between state and society, a sphere in which the public as the vehicle of publicness–the publicness that once had to win out against the secret politics of monarchs and that since then has permitted democratic control of state activity….Habermas had this to say about the corrupting influence of ersatz public opinion: Whereas at one time publicness was intended to subject persons or things to the public use of reason and to make political decisions subject to revision before the tribunal of public opinion, today it has often enough already been enlisted in the aid of the secret policies of interest groups; in the form of “publicity” it now acquires public prestige for persons or things and renders them capable of acclamation in a climate of nonpublic opinion. The term “public relations” itself indicates how a public sphere that formerly emerged from the structure of society must now be produced circumstantially on a case-by-case basis. The idea that public opinion can be manufactured and the fact that electronic spectacles can capture the attention of a majority of the citizenry damaged the foundations of democracy. According to Habermas, It is no accident that these concepts of the public sphere and public opinion were not formed until the eighteenth century. They derive their specific meaning from a concrete historical situation. It was then that one learned to distinguish between opinion and public opinion. . . . Public opinion, in terms of its very idea, can be formed only if a public that engages in rational discussion exists. Public discussions that are institutionally protected and that take, with critical intent, the exercise of political authority as their theme have not existed since time immemorial. The public sphere and democracy were born at the same time, from the same sources. Now that the public sphere, cut off from its roots, seems to be dying, democracy is in danger, too. The concept of the public sphere as discussed by Habermas and others includes several requirements for authenticity that people who live in democratic societies would recognize: open access, voluntary participation, participation outside institutional roles, the generation of public opinion through assemblies of citizens who engage in rational argument, the freedom to express opinions, and the freedom to discuss matters of the state and criticize the way state power is organized. Acts of speech and publication that specifically discuss the state are perhaps the most important kind protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and similar civil guarantees elsewhere in the world….The communications media of the nineteenth century were the newspapers, the penny press, the first generation of what has come to be known as the mass media. At the same time, the birth of advertising and the beginnings of the public-relations industry began to undermine the public sphere by inventing a kind of buyable and sellable phony discourse that displaced the genuine kind. The simulation (and therefore destruction) of authentic discourse, first in the United States, and then spreading to the rest of the world, is what Guy Debord would call the first quantum leap into the “society of the spectacle” and what Jean Baudrillard would recognize as a milestone in the world’s slide into hyper-reality. Mass media’s colonization of civil society turned into a quasi-political campaign promoting technology itself when the image-making technology of television came along. (“Progress is our most important product,” said General Electric spokesman Ronald Reagan, in the early years of television.) And in the twentieth century, as the telephone, radio, and television became vehicles for public discourse, the nature of political discussion has mutated into something quite different from anything the framers of the Constitution could have foreseen. A politician is now a commodity, citizens are consumers, and issues are decided via sound-bites and staged events. The television camera is the only spectator that counts at a political demonstration or convention. According to Habermas and others, the way the new media have been commoditized through this evolutionary process from hand-printed broadside to telegraph to penny press to mass media has led to the radical deterioration of the public sphere. The consumer society has become the accepted model both for individual behavior and political decision making. Discourse degenerated into publicity, and publicity used the increasing power of electronic media to alter perceptions and shape beliefs. The consumer society, the most powerful vehicle for generating short-term wealth ever invented, ensures economic growth by first promoting the idea that the way to be is to buy. The engines of wealth depend on a fresh stream of tabloids sold at convenience markets and television programs to tell us what we have to buy next in order to justify our existence. What used to be a channel for authentic communication has become a channel for the updating of commercial desire. Money plus politics plus network television equals an effective system. It works. When the same packaging skills that were honed on automobile tail fins and fast foods are applied to political ideas, the highest bidder can influence public policy to great effect. What dies in the process is the rational discourse at the base of civil society. That death manifests itself in longings that aren’t fulfilled by the right kind of shoes in this month’s color or the hot new prime-time candidate everybody is talking about. Some media scholars are claiming a direct causal connection between the success of commercial television and the loss of citizen interest in the political process….—end excerpt—Also see: http://people.ucalgary.ca/~frank/habermas.htmlexcerpt:The crisis of contemporary modernity (what remains unfinished about modernity as a project) is that the systems media (A & G) have become de-coupled from the lifeworld and its media (I & L).  The “societal community” of I & L are increasingly colonized, in the sense that members of the community have less sphere for communicative action.  Their relationships are increasingly mediated, locally, by money and power.  McDonalds is one example; the contemporary university is another.  In the university, department meetings could, ideally, be a place where communicative action takes place and influence and value-commitments are regenerated.  We could, in those meetings, attempt to reach common understandings.  In one meeting we were discussing a proposed change to the curriculum.  I was trying to ask a colleague why s/he wanted this change; my “communicative action” involved asking what s/he was trying to teach, how that teaching was going, and so forth.  The colleague’s response was: “If you don’t like the change, vote against it.”  In other words, s/he didn’t want to talk, explain, or reach a common understanding.  Instead we would each gather votes and whoever had the most votes would win.  Systems media (power, votes) had pushed out lifeworld media (appeals to common value commitments as a basis of influencing colleagues to believe one option or the other best represented who we want to be, as a departmental community).  It’s important to understand that this colleague acted in a milieu that the university as a system creates: money and power dominate, and local understands don’t count for much.  The colleague was part of this colonization process, but s/he was only reflecting a larger process.   

          • Ringlis44

            No, I tend to agree in principle that the deck has been stacked for a while, (arguably since the New Deal intrusions in the 1930s and likely before that), but still, to not do the right thing, (although individually non-impacting but effective in the collective), is just wrong.

            One lesson of the Arab Spring for US citizens is that the populace, when sufficiently motivated and connected, can drive change – and up-heaving change at that.

          • Anonymous

            Ignore them and get raped anyway.
            Because you can ignore W.R. Grace, but you can’t ignore asbestos caused lung cancer.  You can ignore Blackwater/Xe, but you can’t ignore an MP5 in the face.
            All it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.  Ignoring problems is worse than doing nothing.

          • Ringlis44

            I didn’t say ‘ignore the problem’ I said ignore the crappy things in life.  How, by actively choosing to not engage an ‘evil’ firm, are you ignoring the problem?

            The problem is when individuals fail to take ownership of their contributions to the evils of the world and ‘blame’ someone else. 

            Failing to see your own culpability is the worst…..

        • michael

          Almost everyone would agree that you are taking away someone’s liberty when you Rape or Murder them. This is common rhetoric against Libertarians is that somehow without control, the world is going to fall a part and we will go back to the dark ages. 

          I think we have to agree that with liberty there comes risk of losing that liberty. There will never be a 0% chance of you not losing your life, or property. To think otherwise is “Imaginary.”

          So the question is how do we mitigate or at least lower the chances of such violations of our liberties?

          Do we trust a few totalitarian rule makers? Sure we might get some good ones like Marcus Aurelius, but how many bad apples in human history did we have to go through?

          Do we trust the religious? 

          Do we trust the experts?

          Who do we trust with making the rules?

  • Karsten S. Rage

    If you don’t vote, what will you do? Blog? Its all pointless but it seems a bit hypocritical to not vote and then complain about things.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I pose an alternative at the end of the article.

    • Puzzled

      Seems a bit hypocritical to me to lend your endorsement to an evil system and then complain.

    • Puzzled

      Seems a bit hypocritical to me to lend your endorsement to an evil system and then complain.

  • http://www.hedgefundfx.com Ross Jaklik

    at the end of the day this is true but its also the publics fault for voting them in and not doing their DD.

    some candidates aren’t corrupt but they have trouble (funding)

    This article and vast audience is one step closer to solving our issues.

  • Sam

    James, you were a DNDN investor during its darkest days. Remember Jon Aschoff at Bream Murray? Accused Mitch Gold of lying, DNDN of being a scam, trials results being faked, was earlier fired from another firm for impersonating a doctor.

    Well, I think he still works there. That’s all you need to know about Brean Murray Whatever.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Yeah, believe me I know Aschoff. No comment.

  • http://twitter.com/Periboob Peri Boob

    I never voted while in the military. Somehow, it seemed wrong to be involved in the selection of my commander-in-chief. But since, I have voted frequently, maybe to make up for the previous skips, or maybe because I feel voting gives me a license to complain when it turns out bad.

    Re the “Twitter Update”: It sould not be required to stop all advertising, just all TV advertising. I would not mind newspapers, magazines, even Internet because they all require a little action to get the exposure to the ad. But I would like to forbid all mention of an election on TV. People who get all their information from the TV, I would prefer they completely miss the election. As a backup plan, I would have a fat tax on campaign contributions, maybe 10X ? It would make a lot more palatable to have corporate funds influencing the election if they were paying for the results. At least it might help toward balancing the budget.

    Thanks James, for a very entertaining, thought provoking blog.

  • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

    I vote, and I cherish that right. I respect anyone’s decision not to vote.

    My advice: if you really want to make an impact in politics and in government start at the local level.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I agree, just had breakfast with someone who ran for a local position. Had real passion for her area, her interests, the people, etc. Local makes a difference.

  • Anonymous

    Has Clinton ever held a private sector job? Started a company? How does a poor boy from Arkansas amass 85 million on a public employee’s salary? That’s probably worth an expose.

    Not saying the Republicans are any better. Its just that one can imagine a Bush or Cheney amassing wealth.  They started with it.  Also lots of connections.  But a poor kid from Hope, AR?

    • superhl

      MarkW99,
      Great question. I am from a family of democrats who voted straight. I became an independent for the very same reason you have exposed in your post. Tell me how someone is elected and is paid a salary amasses millions of dollars. I think George Bush was wrong. He should have said ” Go into politics and then get rich”.However, I dis agree with James, we should vote! 

    • http://twitter.com/Real_Leiderman Real_LEIDERMAN

      Books, investments, speaking gigs, sitting on boards.  It really doesn’t take much effort to find this out, no expose needed. 

      • Fubar

        Wrong again. All those things are payoffs for facilitating the corrupt system of State Capitalism and Plutocracy.

        Clinton, Gore, Obama are deeply corrupt, they were put in power to continue the corruption, just as was Bush.

        Both major political parties are deeply corrupt tools of Plutocrats (state capitalism) and enemies of the public good.

        Do not be duped by silly ideological games and conventional distractions that are used to manipulate emotions.

  • Anonymous

    Having served as a juror twice and having been called to serve 8 times in the last 10 years, I can sympathize. After that, we diverge greatly as we often do in the case of many things. I enjoy your blog and the exuberance of your opinions, but our perspective is so greatly different. That difference is something that I value greatly, but I have to admit that I am a little bit dismayed in this case.

    Mob rule (democracy) is hardly something to be desired in the unfettered state. Republican government in the present sad form is bad, but democracy would be infinitely worse in my opinion. If the Republic has suffered it has been for the lack of a vigilant and active electorate that can look beyond the immediate. If it is failing, it is failing for the weakness inherent in all democratic forms: We have degenerated our elections into self interested popularity contests.

    Does it have to be that way? Are we simply unable to do what is right for ourselves and our fellow citizens? Should we cede the field to the people who have made this mess and take our football and go home?

    While I am sure that our opinions on things political are quite different, if your writings are as genuine as I believe them to be, I am dismayed by your lack of a willingness to stand up for what you believe fervently in. You may quit. That is your choice. You can call it all shades of gray and say that the game is rigged. -That the venal and the callow have torn the reins from us all and that there is no hope.

    Then, my friend, it will truly be your fault.

    As for me, I will fight for what I believe in and I will vote every time that I can. To do anything else, in my mind, is to just give the whole thing away.

    • Mark

      Voting simply exists to give the common people the ILLUSION of choice. The real, unseen government simply holds an election, pacifies the masses, then tells the winner what to do, when to do it, and how to do it….

      • Anonymous

        My goodness, I wouldn’t know how to reply except to say that I thank you for exercising your free will and salute your choice. I disagree, of course, but I respect your opinion.

    • Fubar

      Liberals locate evil in social structures.

      Conservatives locate evil in individuals.

      Altucher writes of a powerful example of individuals playing their role in a corrupt power structure, but he is still stating a “first” belief that the power structure is itself corrupt/evil.

      Once that realization is made, then hopelessness, despair and cynicism set in. After that, it is possible to have yet another realization, that the decline of the establishment is the product of a paradigm shift that has caused the delegitimization of the existing (establishment) paradigm. And then people can seek meaning from the new paradigm.

      You are attempting to argue – from the conventional perspective – that evil (apathy) is located in individuals.

      This approach had been proven to be a dead end, and actually, part of the deception used by the ruling elites to divide and conquer.

      What is necessary is a transformation of both social structures and individual consciousness. this will require that people UNLEARN and DESCHOOL the existing anti-patterns that have governed for at least 100 years.  http://www.secretofoz.com/

      somehow transcendence and spirituality (cultural authenticity) have to be re-integrated.

      One scheme that has been proposed is Integral theory (Ursprung und Gegenwart):

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Gebser

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integral_Theory

      http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptA/intro.cfm

      excerpts:

      Let us begin this overview by first noting what appears to be a rather dismal fact: today we hear a lot about Cultural Creatives and the new and exciting rise of an Integral Culture–a holistic, balanced, inclusive, caring culture that moves beyond the traditional and the modern and into a postmodern transformation. But, in fact, significant psychological evidence indicates that in today’s world, less than 2% of the population is at anything that could be called an “integral” wave of awareness

       In short, we appear to be entering an integral age at the leading edge (with significant portions of the culture at large to follow).
           This is exactly why, I believe, Jeffrey Alexander, America’s most gifted and influential social theorist (and, I might add, brother of the late Skip Alexander, one of the finest theoreticians of consciousness this country has ever produced), found three major movements in modern social theory: functionalism, microsociology, and synthesis.

      Thus we arrive at today: a project of synthesis, an integral age at the leading edge, which is only a few years old. As a larger movement (spreading outward beyond a handful of pioneers over the last few decades), it is really just now beginning with the dawn of the new millennium. What this larger movement very likely represents is the transformation from green to yellow, from intra-cultural to trans-cultural, from ethnocentric pluralism to global integralism, from relativistic to holistic. Whereas the “big pictures” of the orange “universal systems” harshly excluded an appropriate sensitivity to cultural diversity, to world-making intersubjectivity, to the enactive (not merely representational) activity of cognition, and to the irreducible heterogeneity of many systems, the post-green big pictures that are starting to emerge at the dawn of the age of synthesis all explicitly include and build upon the green-meme contributions of microsociology, but without getting lost in an attention to trees so fierce that it denies the existence of forests.

      An integral age at the leading edge, a big picture of many forests, an age of synthesis arising from the ruins of pluralism washed ashore.

      • Anonymous

        How erudite! Thanks for the lesson. I am unsure if you are accurately stating James’ thesis, but I am willing to accept the possibility. Obviously I am far too conventional to understand the thrust of your argument. I am handicapped by the notion of personal responsibility and of good and evil that form the bedrock of who I am.

        To quote Pogo, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

        In the end, I must congratulate you on your scholarly effort and your passion. You have given the subject quite a bit of thought and I appreciate you taking the time to share with me.

        We are obviously diametrically opposed in viewpoint and, while I was initially somewhat put-off by being patronized, I am grateful for the exposure to a different school of thought from my own. That is one of the reasons that I frequent James’ blog. Many thanks!

        • Fubar

          Dgarber,

          Thanks for the excellent feedback.

          There is great wisdom in simplicity and great wisdom in responsibility. I would prefer to live in a society that respects and honors responsibility, independence and self-reliance, but sadly that is going, gone.  (for reasons that appear to be best explained by changes to social structures and consciousness.)

          A new ethos of what is “good and true” is evolving within postmodern culture. The question is, what is it?

          http://www.cejournal.org/GRD/neville.htm

          excerpt:

          Bernie Neville
          Graduate School of Education at La Trobe University
          Australia

          In this paper I start with the premise that at the turn of this century we are in the midst of profound cultural and psychological change. During the past half-century we have had some of our species’ sharpest minds trying to get to grips with the evidence that something significant is going on in the evolution of human consciousness and culture. I want to rehearse something of what they have said, before reflecting on what this might mean for our work as teachers in an information-rich society. Specifically I want to look at our age from four different perspectives: postmodern social analysis, the history of consciousness, constructivist developmental psychology and archetypal psychology.

          Archaic and magical humanity lack all spatial consciousness, because it lacks a defined sense of a self as separate from the world and able to observe it. Mythical humanity has emerged from this enmeshment in nature, aware of an external world, but self-consciousness is still too weak to experience objective space. It is only through our mental consciousness that human beings are able to locate events in objective, quantifiable space. It is only in mental consciousness that space is measured. Central to this experience is perspective, which demands a point from which the world is viewed and an individual to view it. In integral consciousness, it becomes possible to view the world “aperspectivally”, without locating the viewer in a particular position in space. We are no longer constrained to see only the parts, but have access to the whole.
          …It is nearly seventy years since [Jean] Gebser set about his massive accumulation of evidence from the arts and sciences which persuaded him that a specific cultural pattern was emerging. At century’s end we find both in the postmodern arts and sciences and in popular culture abundant evidence that this pattern has intensified. And we find a readiness in both arts and sciences to conclude that the rational, logical, sense-based thinking which made modern, scientific, industrial culture possible no longer seems to work in the universe in which we now find ourselves. Time and space can be no longer be objectively quantified, except within the narrow range of our conventional concrete experience. Our sense of self has become conditional, situational and transitory. The old, dualistic distinctions between truth and error, male and female, human and non-human, subject and object, matter and spirit, image and reality, good and evil no longer provide the essential scaffolding for our thinking. We are prepared to make a distinction between the irrational (mythical) and the arational (integral).

          [Robert] Kegan’s theory of cognitive development is a psychological theory and only secondarily concerns itself with culture. Gebser’s is a theory of culture which barely touches on the psychological development of the individual. Yet the convergence of the models is striking. The mythical structure appears to be manifested in third order thinking, the mental in fourth order, and the integral in fifth order.

          Hermes is ubiquitous in Greek mythology. He is the shape-shifter with many names and many forms: the god of travelers, the god of boundaries and boundary-crossing, the god of cowboys, the god of merchants and markets, the god of persuasiveness, the trickster, the god of lies and deceit, the god of gamblers, the god of thieves, the god of illusions, the god of shamanic medicine, the god of the crossroads, the god of connections, of quicksilver, of fast footwork and smooth talking, the god of boundary-crossing. He is slippery and seductive, the divine entrepreneur, a con man without ethics and without malice. He has no values of his own, no concern for substance. He is the complete opportunist. He slips into situations where he is not expected, “like smoke under the door”. He avoids confrontation; he has no interest in being a hero. He believes that everything is negotiable. He enjoys doing deals, being clever, playing the game. He is the herald of the gods, the connector, the carrier of information. He is constantly on the move. He loves paradox and process, trickery and risk. He is ambiguous and many-faced. He is everybody’s mate. We might point to various politicians and ex-politicians, in Australia and elsewhere, who fit this description very well.

          Archetypal psychology suggests that we can find the images of the Hermes myth dominating our culture in the recent past and the present time. We can argue that the complexity of our planetary situation and the unwillingness of political leaders to admit their inability to manage it belong to this pattern, as does the pervasive tendency to deal with crises through “image control” rather than effective action, the dominance of the stock market and the collapse of consensus ethics. I suggest that eco-feminism, in its challenge to the anthropocentricity and hero-pathology of the modern age, belongs to the same pattern as postmodern science, the information superhighway, the multicultural society, the “end of enclosure” and the worship of the unregulated market, for Hermes is very much Mummy’s boy.

          If our culture is possessed by one god rather than another, we have to point to Hermes, the god of information and communication, the friendly god who constantly deceives us.
          The Greeks did not distinguish between “good gods” and “bad gods”. The nasty or pathological aspects of behaviour were shared out among all the gods. Hermes has his good side and his bad side. However, Hermes himself makes no distinction between good and bad. We might not like some characteristics of the Age of Hermes: the deceit, delusion, irresponsibility and amorality; the collapse of boundaries, the substitution of image for substance, the attack on rationality, the groundlessness, the destabilization, the commodification; the restlessness of the god of travelers who never stays in one place. However, they go hand in hand with other Hermetic qualities which characterize our age: the pluralism, the flexibility, the capacity for transformation, the inventiveness, the relativism, the playfulness, the magic, the tolerance, the invitation to escape from psychological and cultural prisons, the acceptance of paradox, the acknowledgment of process, the concern for Mother Earth.
          Hermes is not the only god dominant in our culture. There are other more oppressive gods demanding our worship. But I suggest that it is Hermes’ story, rather than any other, which currently says who we are.

          In pre-scientific societies third order thinking was perfectly adequate to meet the demands of the environment. Fourth order thinking both enabled and was demanded by the Age of Science. The culture in which we find ourselves at the end of the twentieth century demands that we be capable of dialectical, post-ideological, transpersonal, fifth order thinking. When we were at school we may not have been taught to think like this, and we may use this skill rather clumsily. It may, indeed, be beyond many of us much of the time. But our children and students may be more capable of it than our parents and teachers ever could be, and if we ignore this we will not make much contact with them.

          Where third order schooling aims at dependence and fourth order thinking aims at independence, fifth order thinking aims at interdependence.
          Where third order schooling focuses on transmitted knowledge and fourth order education focuses on discovering the truth, fifth order schooling seeks a plurality of understandings. Where third order learning is passive and receptive and fourth order thinking is critical and active, fifth order learning is creative and constructive. Where third order curriculum emphasizes received truth and fourth order curriculum seeks to discover universal principles, fifth order curriculum celebrates a diversity of incomplete (and even contradictory) truths.

          Where third order schooling is community-centric and fourth order schooling is ego-centric, fifth order schooling is eco-centric and transpersonal. It is sustained by an emerging ability to perceive not only “my truth and “your truth” as each incomplete without the other, but even “me” and “you” as each incomplete without the other.

          The role of information technology is central to this. It both enables and demands the dissolution of boundaries, the development of transegoic consciousness, the transcendence of rational, linear, dualistic thinking and the constraints of quantified space and time. It both enables and demands the emergence of an holistic, eco-centric, process-oriented, constructivist curriculum.
          ,,,

          —end excerpts—

          I expanded on Alhucher’s observations (which are hardly new in their general outlines).

          I do not oppose your viewpoint, it is valid, and partially true.

          (but the power of corruption in the system overwhelms personal responsibility.)

          I also do not oppose Altucher’s viewpoint, which is valid in other ways, and also partially true.

          (the power of such corruption does not mean that the symbolic value of exercising personal responsibility is irrelevant to maintaining a good society. and indeed, Altucher has stated many times that he lives by an alternate ethos of what is “good” that involves some principles of traditional buddhist enlightenement, which I support. Buddhists consider personal responsibility, or “karma”, so important that it survives reincarnation.)

          Instead of seeing different viewpoints as being opposed, I propose that they are part of a larger, more meaningful, whole.

          By transcending specific viewpoints, additional possibilities may present themselves that better serve the common good.

          Individual choice (against evil, apathy, ignorance) and social structures interplay.

          In some cases, individual choice has large influence, in others, it does not.

          In some cases, the structure of society restricts the possibilities involved in individual choice.

          As explained by leading social theorists, the social structures that exist at this point in history are “suffering a crisis of legitimization”.

          Since many attempts at solutions have failed to change things for the better, many people become disillusioned, which is a natural response.

          For those people, voting for a corrupt structure is unethical and does not represent a “meaningful” choice.

          I personally believe that the american republic has probably been far too damaged to be reformed or repaired to its former glory, but I was taught to not give up the fight for democracy, so I look for alternative candidates, such as Ron Paul, and support them as a “statement” of protest.

  • http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com/ Jlcollinsnh

    I was hoping the unedited version had a picture ot your magic dragon tattoo….

    I also don’t vote, but for a much simpler reason:  My one single vote doesn’t matter.  never will.

    We had a local election here in my little NH town.  It was decided by a margin of 17, I think, votes.  I didn’t vote.  didn’t matter.  would have passed or failed (I forget) by 16 or 18 votes instead of 17.  didn’t matter.

    yes I am aware of the “What if everybody thought that way….?”  arguement.  but they don’t and just about the same number of people who would vote as I might stay home as those who might vote as I wouldn’t.

    it late.  hope this makes sense.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Read recently that 46 out of 50 states are pretty much already “decided” for 2012 so one only has to campaign in 4 states. Reminds me of an Isaac Asimov story when they finally narrowed it down to one guy on each election and he would be the one to pick. Asimov is like Vonnegut’s Kilgore Trout.

      • Anonymous

        I loved those stories!

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IHWCJIMARF4OOW6PQZQS3RFOOA JillK

        I read that Hillary Clinton was a shoe-in for the Democratic nomination in 2008, too. But that didn’t happen.

        Because people voted. 

        In states that supposedly didn’t matter.

        They ended up mattering quite a bit.

        Well, to Hillary anyway. ;)

        • Fubar

          Hillary would have become President if Bill had been able to keep his zipper up after leaving his Presidency. Because of Bill Clinton’s continuing affairs, Hillary’s attempt at the Presidency was destroyed. Out of deseration, the democratic elites turned to the inexperienced, but charismatic, Obama.

          Very silly stuff.

          • Fubar

            correction: “Out of desperation”

  • http://twitter.com/Real_Leiderman Real_LEIDERMAN

    The #1 issue we need dealt with is 100% public financing of campaigns. Campaigns should be run on a very tiny fraction of what is currently spent, and the small cost would be worth it to get a democracy for the people and not the highest bidder.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      100% agreed.

      • Fubar

        How do you propose getting the SCOTUS to go along with public financing of elections? The members of the SCOTUS are products of the corrupt system of State Capitalism, and will only work to continue the corrupt system, not to radically reform it in such a way that their power is diminished by democratization/decentralization.

    • http://www.paulstaxi.com Paul The cab Driver

      Nonsense.  Because money would still get into the hands of politicians, and companies and interests would still make sure their agendas are heard.  You will simply drive the corruption deeper under ground.  If there is a political solution, it is a complete separation of business and State; the way we separate religion and State.  I doubt there are political solutions though.  Our problems are spiritual and not political.

      • http://twitter.com/Real_Leiderman Real_LEIDERMAN

        Maybe you misunderstood me.  There would be no outside money allowed in campaigns.  The FEC would not allow special interest groups to run ads.  Politicians that received money would be brought up on charges.  We don’t legalize murder because it is too underground now.  Keep praying for those politicians to put our citizenry’s interests over corporations, though.

        • Jkmoore7649

          No outside money?  So I couldn’t support someone I liked, or form a group to help them get elected?  Be careful how many ridiculous rules you place on politicians – ultimately those restrictions are being placed on individuals and their right to free speech.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jim.crayne James Crayne

            i think the communists were right when they said democracy and capitalism are incompatible. I hold out hope there is an alternative which still has some libertarian virtues. But even if it is technically possible, I fear people’s attitudes and habitual conflations will be like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

        • Radmatty

          I’d rather we aim for 100% voluntary funding of government.

  • http://wavetribe.com Derek Dodds

    I will vote when someone fights to end all war.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Agreed. But will never happen.

  • superhl

    James,
    What is your opinion of a true democracy?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I’m in favor of a true democracy and zero campaign spending except for equal air time by the candidates for when the President is doing a press conference.

  • http://twitter.com/SteveDave99876 Steve Dave

    I thought you didn’t give this sort of thing much thought?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Except when it personally affects me in such a strong way like it does in the anecdote mentioned in this post.

  • Todd_Andelin

    Line-item veto would be nice : )  

  • Terence

    I love you….and the answer is….go inside, at least for me.

    I gave up voting around 1968, somehow knew even way back then that ain’t no difference ‘tween the two. 

    I truly believe I must learn to have peace of mind, serenity, in spite of any political manifestation, party, philosophy not because of one.

    New ager, hippie, dreamer? Maybe. Happier? Damn straight, Bocephus.

  • Adriana P.

    The show of politics is quite simple! You just make up a standard (comprehensible, fluent, grammatically correct – as much as possible) discourse and tune it with some keywords and specific slants, depending on the purpose it serves. Then you perform it to the public. The hooks are there with lure for the emotions of the masses, so a lot of people bite into that message and start chewing. For a while, they enjoy the taste of the lure (it makes them feel right, validates their thinking), and, in the end, alas, they see the hook and feel the outcome. And this goes on and on, ever adapting to changes, yet remaining the same mechanism – why stop using it, if it works… over and over again.

    We’re told that voting means this and that, but there comes the time when the obvious stabs you in the face, you just can’t ignore it. I used to be the idealistic 18-year-old happy to be able to vote, express my choices, make a difference with my important vote, but that did not last long. It wasn’t disappointment or disgust what changed my way of thinking, but facts, logic, and a bit of reason. It was the obvious: voting (at least today) is merely giving our own trust and power to a facade, to people we don’t truly know, but are promoted and sold as proficiently as their staff is capable. It’s like choosing at the grocery store – you know close to nothing about what’s in the package, where it has been made, or how, you don’t understand what most of the ingredients on the label are, but you do know the advertising jingle. We’re pretty much voting for suits, grins, and résumés, sacrificing what REALLY matters – honesty, competence, kindness, genuine care, and so on.  

    Why trust that those people know what’s best for me? Why be represented by them? Why be comforted by the thought that I have the “right” to shout and swear at the politicians I feel that failed me and my voter expectations? That is not power, not living consciously. We should ask different questions, sort out some values, and maybe there would be less misery, and more energy invested in things that are of more immediate importance to each of us. Blurred, fabricated, counterfeit controversies are not worth engaging in! Funny how less fighting would set the table for solutions, but the contrary gets fueled.

    Yet, the freedom to choose is important, and should be guarded against abuse.

    Good blog, James!

    • DocDoom

      At least at the grocery store you can put the product back on the shelf and keep your money if you don’t like it.   If the grocery store were like politics you’d be forced to choose, pay for, and eat a product you don’t want.  

  • Anonymous

    The voter’s paradox:

    1. Every election I could ever vote in did not come down to a margin of 1 vote. Therefore whether I voted or not had no effect on the outcome. In other words, voting is a waste of time, unless you just do it for fun. Yet…
    2. Voting is necessary to have a democracy

    This is like the tax payer’s paradox:

    1. Paying taxes is a huge waste of my money — 99.9999997% percent goes to other people. In other words, if I didn’t pay my taxes, everything would go along just fine. Yet…
    2. Taxes are necessary to have a working government.

    The solution to the voter’s paradox is the same as the solution to the tax payer’s paradox: voting, like tax paying, should be compulsory.

    In their heart, everyone knows this, because even if they say they disagree, they’ll still try to guilt people into voting, because they think everyone “should” vote, whatever “should” means. That’s about as intelligent as trying to guilt people into paying their taxes. And only the well educated middle class (i.e. the suckers for a guilt trip) falls for it.

    In Australia, voting is compulsory, and — big surprise — politicians fall over each other trying to do what ordinary people want. As an American living there, it was at first hard for me to accept that compulsory voting is necessary to have a well functioning democracy, but now it is completely obvious to me.

  • Jeanne

    Attention Wal Mart shoppers: you vote with your dollars at the cash register, not the touch screen on a Diebold voting machine.  We sit back and complain about low wages and the powerful few having all the money, yet, we continue to give to them by buying and buying and buying and consuming and consuming and consuming. Stop it. Live Simply. Figure out your own values and spend your money on that which reinforces or is a representation of those values, instead of hanging out in aisle 6 where they’ve rolled back prices on apathy and powerlessness. We have no one to blame but ourselves. 

    • Bob Nickleton

      Totally agree. The voting paradigm has shifted. People vote every day with their money. If you dont like the way Walmart does business?  Then dont shop there, you think Citibank should have gone bankrupt? Dont bank with them and make them go bankrupt. It is so easy to just vote at the ballots and then blame the guy in power for everything that is wrong. People need to take responsibilities for their actions.

      • Fubar

        This has limited effect. The system of state capitalism frequently acts against “free market” choice by creating structural disincentives to market entities that act against the perceived or real interests of the Plutocracy.

        Most businesses are deeply tied into global networks needed for survival. State capitalism arranges much of the required infrastructure. Nonconformance is not acceptable.

        Nonconformism is frequently suicidal.

        For 100+ years the system of state capitalism (plutocracy) has acted with considerable hostility against the original form of independent political culture that was typified by small, family farmers and related rural business.

        Political correctness, a huge defense establishment, social work bureaucracy, public schooling, have all acted to destroy political independence, self sufficiency, etc.

        Both liberals and conservatives have played a role in making america a hollow culture, devoid of meaningful life.

        If the people reject the choice of walking down the path of delusion, laziness, apathy and ignorance, a real movement of mass outrage and reform is possible.

        Anyone that is an apologist for either major political party at this point is a shill, promoting the very delusions and hate ideologies that created the real problems.

        Liberals see evil in social structures.

        Conservatives see evil in individuals.

        Transpartisan politics attempts to integrate such disparate ways of thinking in service of a higher common good.

  • Paul

    Every day I read stuff online about how the government “should” be, and expressions of disgust at participation in a corrupt system.  Yet no one has the balls to have a frank discussion about what will actually work.  So the answer is “not vote”… ok that is your right James.  Yet it might just as well be: “vote more”.  If everyone made more primary challenges to corrupt Democrats and Republicans, it might make a difference.  If people staged a major collective tax revolt, choked the jails until the government didn’t have the money to put them there, it might make a difference. 

    From the perspective of the individual, it seems that nothing can be done.  Leverage comes from committed citizens who act as a group and move their votes. 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I just don’t think that’s practical. Most people have to work, etc. The biggest protest I can make is not vote and express why through posts like this.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/Mr_RamV RamVaz

    I agree. It is obvious the Republican vs. Democrat is the most effective use of Good Cop vs.Bad Cop ever.  The voting population is divided and squabbling over inconsequential details while the thieves sneak out the back door with all the money.

    I disagree with not voting though.  The only way this improves is by having a more participatory democracy with a way more informed public. The public showing support for more third party candidates would go a long way into scaring the 2 party monopoly (No, I’m not talking about the Republican Tea Party). Also, a free media with real journalism would be a good place to start.

  • Michael Goldsborough

    I think this movement of a “no-vote” is picking up steam.  Every day people are waking up to the realization that the only thing they can affect is the space and people around them.  This is why I love your writing James, you consistently encourage (sometimes with blunt force) people to be active in their own circle and improve themselves.  Almost a “remove the log from your own eye before trying to remove the spec from your friends eye…” theology.  

    If you’d like and have the time, my views on why I don’t vote are at my blog. Link – http://bgin2end.wordpress.com/my-stand/

  • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

    This is a hard one for me. I know that everything you said here is true. And yet, I have this sense of duty with regards to voting. I was raised with it. And I raised my son to be the same way. I majored in political science (and economics) in college. Everything You said is true, but I will still vote. 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

       I think voting for local candidates can make a huge difference.

  • http://twitter.com/JustheTip cranky true

    Too much money is on the line for a vote to come along and mess it all up. The players are all preselected and the outcome is predetermined. It doesn’t matter who “wins”, they all make money. The political parties are just used to divide us and keep us focused on the unimportant. The best slaves are the ones who do not realize the aren’t free.

  • http://twitter.com/ajaxjones ajax jones

    hopefully one day I’ll get to shake your hand :)

  • Btown

    A “no vote” puts you in the category of uninformed, lazy, uncaring people that will be simply discounted (ie. it will be assumed that you “don’t care”). If you passionately care, but hate the current options and system, vote for a third party. ANY third party. Yes they currently can’t win. But, contrary to popular soundbites, that vote is NOT wasted. Every point the 3rd parties get raises them up and the R+Ds down, increases chances of funding, and increases the chance that in the next election we may have real options…

    Rather than the rather (accurately) dismal picture you paint here. 

    Assuming a vote for a third party is exactly akin to assuming today’s trip to the gym (or chess practice, or meditation) isn’t worth doing because you won’t instantly become perfectly toned (or a chess champion, or enlightened).  Voting 3rd party is the first step in a process that leads to a better system. Don’t be discouraged.

    • Btown

      *assuming a vote for a third party is wasted is exactly akin…”  My mistake.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

       A third party vote is the worst you can do. Its like voting AGAINST the Dem or Rep candidate who is most similar to the third party candidate. You end up achieving the reverse of what you set out to do.

      Right now I prefer to be uninformed and out of the whole mess. Its all meaningless, as my story demonstrates, as two meaningless wars demonstrate, as disastrous policies that led to the housing crisis demonstrate, etc.

      I do think voting locally is not such a bad thing, though. I like the mayor in my town for instance.

      • Btown

        “A third party vote is the worst you can do. ”

        That’s exactly where I disagree. That is the majority opinion on 3rd party votes because it’s so correct in the short term. However, I believe that’s like saying working out is bad for you because it hurts when you do it. The length of time used in the assessment of good/bad is not ideal.

        Yes, by voting 3rd party you could cause the D/R party closest to your views to lose next immediate election… But you don’t actually agree with them anyway, so did you actually lose anything of value? Also, if you, James, are not going to vote, then voting 3rd party doesn’t take anything away from any team. You’re adding a vote to the system, not flipping a vote from the R’s/D’s.

        Your 3rd party vote will accomplish one important thing in the long term: showing major investors, backers, etc that 3rd parties are gaining steam. If you vote 3rd party in every election from here on out. And other people begin to think like you and me. Then each “addition” of a new voter adds momentum and “defection” from a D/R to a 3rd party brings the 3rd party TWO votes closer to the mainstream (- 1 from the leading party, +1 to the 3rd party). And with all things, these defectors don’t need to close the entire gap. If a 3rd party were to get 7-10 percent of a vote, in the very next election they would see seriously increased financial and media backing. Look at the Tea Party now. They picked up a lot of steam, media attention, and financial backing in just a few years. If people continue to ignore the “a vote for a 3rd party is a wasted vote” thought and all R’s who actually are more aligned with the Tea Party vote along those lines, then very soon, we’ll have a true 3rd party there (and likely more D-based parties to counterbalance soon thereafter). Of course, the Tea Party is a slightly more complex issue as it is currently part of a mainstream party.The issue is the focus of the general voter on the very next election. To change the entire system, we need to focus on lengths of 3-5 elections. Our votes still work. It’s our impatience getting in the way.

      • Btown

        “A third party vote is the worst you can do. ”

        That’s exactly where I disagree. That is the majority opinion on 3rd party votes because it’s so correct in the short term. However, I believe that’s like saying working out is bad for you because it hurts when you do it. The length of time used in the assessment of good/bad is not ideal.

        Yes, by voting 3rd party you could cause the D/R party closest to your views to lose next immediate election… But you don’t actually agree with them anyway, so did you actually lose anything of value? Also, if you, James, are not going to vote, then voting 3rd party doesn’t take anything away from any team. You’re adding a vote to the system, not flipping a vote from the R’s/D’s.

        Your 3rd party vote will accomplish one important thing in the long term: showing major investors, backers, etc that 3rd parties are gaining steam. If you vote 3rd party in every election from here on out. And other people begin to think like you and me. Then each “addition” of a new voter adds momentum and “defection” from a D/R to a 3rd party brings the 3rd party TWO votes closer to the mainstream (- 1 from the leading party, +1 to the 3rd party). And with all things, these defectors don’t need to close the entire gap. If a 3rd party were to get 7-10 percent of a vote, in the very next election they would see seriously increased financial and media backing. Look at the Tea Party now. They picked up a lot of steam, media attention, and financial backing in just a few years. If people continue to ignore the “a vote for a 3rd party is a wasted vote” thought and all R’s who actually are more aligned with the Tea Party vote along those lines, then very soon, we’ll have a true 3rd party there (and likely more D-based parties to counterbalance soon thereafter). Of course, the Tea Party is a slightly more complex issue as it is currently part of a mainstream party.The issue is the focus of the general voter on the very next election. To change the entire system, we need to focus on lengths of 3-5 elections. Our votes still work. It’s our impatience getting in the way.

  • http://rodolfogrimaldi.com Daniel Mihai Popescu

    I think we all work to an alternative, in our way. I so liked this post, it rooted with what I say around me. And it is available almost everywhere in the world, they are “brothers”, “friars”, whatever, they share the throne with people’s help, people who even in agreement with what you say here, run and vote secretly, making their “duty” of brainwashed puppets, helping the likes of Quasha and McCaulliffe to make more money, “nice and clean”, :)

  • CMS

    Too bad you weren’t in Texas when Kinky Friedman was running for Governor; he had some great quotes on the evening news. 

    On abortion: “I’m not pro-choice or pro-life…   I’m pro-football!” or “Remember, the Legislature is the joke, not our campaign, … I think we’ve got a real, real shot.” Of course, he was campainging mostly to the college student crowd, but god was he funny. It’s all an f’n joke so why not treat it for what it is.

    And a good non-campaign quote: “A happy childhood is the worst possible preparation for life.”

  • Joe

    James, James, James–I won’t be surprised a year from now when you write a post lamenting your cynicism and near-sightedness on this one. You are right, of course, that the Democrats and Republicans are the same and all they care about is staying in power so they can be rich and take other people’s money. What I implore you to consider, though, is that giving up is *exactly what they want you to do*.

    Why has politics become an ever-more-foul-smelling gob of pus? Because nobody votes except rich retired Republicans and slacker activist Democrats. There’s nobody on the ticket you’d vote for? F them all–start a write-in campaign.

    Not gonna happen? Probably not, but there’s only one reason why–the American people have fallen for The Plan: make everyone so burned-out and disillusioned and frustrated that we (the major parties) can do whatever we want. I’m no optimist, but if the American colonists could kick out King George III and North Africans can send their dictators out on a rail, all we lack is the will.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Thats true. But I don’t really know how we get it back. The worst two things that have happened in the last two decades are the wars and the events that led up to the housing crisis and both parties can be blamed for both. I tend to hold a grudge so I’m not interested in any member of either party.

      And I tend to think third parties are useless. A vote for a third party candidate, at least historically, has served as an anti-vote to the main party candidate most similar to that candidate (e.g. a vote for Nader in 2000 was like a vote against Gore, a vote for Perot in 1992 was like a vote against Bush, a vote for John Anderson in 1980 was like a vote against Carter, etc). 

    • Fubar

      re: The Plan

      James & Joe,

      Excellent stuff. Many thanks.

      With the exception of people like many of James’ (more enlightened) readers, the american public has generally become ignorant and apathetic.

      Note: Ron Paul is not a “3rd party” candidate. He is opposed to the Neocon republicans (Bush/Cheney).

      If about 1/2 of the members of the democratic party switched to the republican party, they could easily destroy the republican/neocon agenda from “inside” in less than 10 years. YET, they chose to ignore this simple solution. Why? Because the ruling elites do not see doing so in THEIR best interests. they want to continue the SCAM. the “liberal” social engineering bureauracy (social workers, terachers unions, etc.) deperately hope that they will keep being fed scraps for their complicity. But the scraps get smaller and smaller.

      You have taken part of the first of three neccessary steps toward “reform”, you have begun to understand why it is necessary to reject the current order’s premises.

      The american revolution succeeded because the american colonists adopted a new paradigm (modernism). The viginians were motivated by resentment over being scammed by London banks (bad loans to tobacco farmers such as George Washington)!

      The new englanders were motivated by resentment over royal sugar/rum taxes, and anger about the unwillinglness of the royal army to engage in expensive indian wars so that the colonists could steal more land from natives in the west.

      As american/global culture has become postmodernist (pluaralistic/relativistic), the last chapter of the failure of democracy predicted by deToqueville in 1840 has unfolded.

      In its “paradigm regressive” (declining, corrupt) state, the american democratic republic is being transformed into a Plutocracy.

      The masses have had their lowest instincts pandered to by the ruling elites (with evil intentions) for a long time. It will be VERY painful for the masses to UNLEARN having their lowest instincts pandered to by such “special interests”.

      Some theorists believe that only an extraordinary level of spirtiual and intellectual discipline can cause the needed transformation.

      http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptB/part2.cfm

      excerpt:
      …the physicist in the example is highlighting the third-person singular dimensions of being-in-the-world, and is doing so from an orange wave of consciousness (from that vantage point, quarks do indeed “ex-ist” or stand forth in a worldspace; again, this does not mean that quarks did not exist in some sense prior to orange consciousness, only that they did not “ex-ist” or become apparent to humans until that structure could call them forth). The meditator, on the other hand, is activating the first-person singular dimensions of being-in-the-world, and is doing so from a third-tier state (from that vantage point, you can indeed realize nirvana, a state that actually “ex-ists” or can be realized in that worldspace). The two practitioners see different things, see different worlds, because they have different social practices, different paradigms, different injunctions. However, change your practice and you will see a different world, essentially the same different world seen by what you thought was your nemesis in the so-called paradigm clash.

      And what happens when one subject practices both conventional physics and meditation? Two general things: one, they almost always agree that both quarks and nirvana are real enough; and two, they almost always agree that the ground of nirvana is more encompassing than a quark. More precisely, they tend to see the reality or ground of a state like nirvana as including or enveloping manifest phenomena, such as quarks. This is the general principle of enfoldment, but now operating on a meta-paradigmatic or cross-paradigmatic fashion (an action Shankara labeled “subration”). Nonetheless, even in its cross-paradigmatic fashion, enfoldment never pronounces another truth to be not true, only less true. Again, nothing is lost, all is enfolded.

      —end excerpt—

      Yet, conventional educational and religious organizations are dysfunctional, and generally not up to the task (Habermas).

      Joe:

      The next paradigm is Holistic and Transpartisan (“transformational”). Until the ruling elites, or an alternative elite, adopts holism and transpartanism (Integral Politics), the continued delegitimization of social institutions will lead to more hopelessness, more despair, more cynicism.

      History teaches us that failed empires produce “Etherialists” and “Brutalists”. (David Brooks, “Among the Bourgeoisophobes” http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/001/102gwtnf.asp )

      The solution to the false/broken promises of The Plan are:

      1) DESCHOOLING (see Ivan Illich) – REJECT THE CURRENT ESTABLISHMENT
      2) SPIRITUAL/INDIVIDUAL SOLUTION: OPT OUT OF IGNORANCE AND APATHY
      3) STRUCTURAL SOLUTION: INTEGRAL/TRANSPARTISAN POLITICS

      http://fabiusmaximus.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/26538/

      broken URL:
      http://fabiusmaximus.wordpress.com/
      2011/
      04/
      08/
      26538/

      excerpts:

      Origins of what may become the 3rd American Republic (a plutocracy)8 April 2011
      tags: constitution, david runcimanby Fabius Maximus
      Summary:  The article excerpted here provides a powerful explanation for the evolution of our political system during the past 35 years to favor the super-rich, becoming in effect a plutocracy.  It even provides an excuse for us, the citizens.  If you consider ignorance and apathy to be excuses.Review by David Runciman (teaches politics at Cambridge) in the London Review of Books, 14 April 2011 — It’s open to non-subscribers, and well-worth reading in full.  If you don’t subscribe, I recommend doing so!Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World by Nicholas ShaxsonWinner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer – and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson… This is the question that Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson tackle in Winner-Take-All Politics. They don’t spend much time talking about offshore, but the story they tell has striking parallels with the one laid out by Shaxson.  One of the ways you can identify an offshore environment, according to Shaxson, is that local politics gets captured by financial services.  In that sense, Washington has gone offshore: its politics has been captured by the interests of a narrow group of very wealthy individuals, many of whom work in finance.  For Hacker and Pierson this, more than anything else, explains why the rich have got so much richer over the last 30 years or so.  And by the rich they don’t mean simply the generally wealthy; they mean the super-rich.The real beneficiaries of the explosion in income for top earners since the 1970s has been not the top 1 per cent but the top 0.1 per cent of the general population.  Since 1974, the share of national income of the top 0.1 per cent of Americans has grown from 2.7 to 12.3 per cent of the total, a truly mind-boggling level of redistribution from the have-nots to the haves.Who are these people?  As Hacker and Pierson note, they are ‘not, for the most part, superstars and celebrities in the arts, entertainment and sports.  Nor are they rentiers, living off their accumulated wealth, as was true in the early part of the last century.  A substantial majority are company executives and managers, and a growing share of these are financial company executives and managers.’Hacker and Pierson believe that politics is responsible for this.  It happened because law-makers and public officials allowed it to happen, not because international markets, or globalisation, or differentials in education or life-chances made it inevitable.  It was a choice, driven by the pressure of lobbyists and other organisations to create an environment much more hospitable to the needs of the very rich.  It was even so a particular kind of politics and a particular kind of choice.It wasn’t a conspiracy, because it happened in the open.  But nor was it an explicit political movement, characterised by rallies, speeches and electoral triumphs.  It relied in large part on what Hacker and Pierson call a process of drift: ‘systematic, prolonged failures of government to respond to the shifting realities of a dynamic economy’.  More often than not the politicians were persuaded to do nothing, to let up on enforcement, to look the other way, as money moved around the globe and up to the very top of the financial chain.  This chimes with what Shaxson says about the way the offshore system was allowed to develop over the last four decades.  Here too there was no real conspiracy, because there was no real need. Instead, it happened because ‘nobody was paying attention.’… It is easy to assume that if the rich have been winning in recent decades, the process must have started with the election of the pro-big business, anti-big government Ronald Reagan in 1980 (and concomitantly, Margaret Thatcher in Britain in 1979).  But Hacker and Pierson argue that the real turning point came in 1978, during the presidency of Jimmy Carter.  This was the year the lobbyists and other organised groups who were pushing hard to relax the burden of tax and regulation on wealthy individuals and corporate interests discovered that no one was pushing back all that hard.  Despite Democratic control of the White House and both Houses of Congress, 1978 saw the defeat of attempts to introduce progressive tax reform and to improve the legal position of trade unions.   Instead, legislation was passed that reduced the tax burden on corporations and increased the burden on their employees (through a hike in the payroll tax, a regressive measure).  All this happened because the politicians followed the path of least resistance – as elected politicians invariably do – and the better organised and better-funded resistance came from the representatives of big business, not organised labour….—end—

    • Fubar

      re: The Plan

      James & Joe,

      Excellent stuff. Many thanks.

      With the exception of people like many of James’ (more enlightened) readers, the american public has generally become ignorant and apathetic.

      Note: Ron Paul is not a “3rd party” candidate. He is opposed to the Neocon republicans (Bush/Cheney).

      If about 1/2 of the members of the democratic party switched to the republican party, they could easily destroy the republican/neocon agenda from “inside” in less than 10 years. YET, they chose to ignore this simple solution. Why? Because the ruling elites do not see doing so in THEIR best interests. they want to continue the SCAM. the “liberal” social engineering bureauracy (social workers, terachers unions, etc.) deperately hope that they will keep being fed scraps for their complicity. But the scraps get smaller and smaller.

      You have taken part of the first of three neccessary steps toward “reform”, you have begun to understand why it is necessary to reject the current order’s premises.

      The american revolution succeeded because the american colonists adopted a new paradigm (modernism). The viginians were motivated by resentment over being scammed by London banks (bad loans to tobacco farmers such as George Washington)!

      The new englanders were motivated by resentment over royal sugar/rum taxes, and anger about the unwillinglness of the royal army to engage in expensive indian wars so that the colonists could steal more land from natives in the west.

      As american/global culture has become postmodernist (pluaralistic/relativistic), the last chapter of the failure of democracy predicted by deToqueville in 1840 has unfolded.

      In its “paradigm regressive” (declining, corrupt) state, the american democratic republic is being transformed into a Plutocracy.

      The masses have had their lowest instincts pandered to by the ruling elites (with evil intentions) for a long time. It will be VERY painful for the masses to UNLEARN having their lowest instincts pandered to by such “special interests”.

      Some theorists believe that only an extraordinary level of spirtiual and intellectual discipline can cause the needed transformation.

      http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptB/part2.cfm

      excerpt:
      …the physicist in the example is highlighting the third-person singular dimensions of being-in-the-world, and is doing so from an orange wave of consciousness (from that vantage point, quarks do indeed “ex-ist” or stand forth in a worldspace; again, this does not mean that quarks did not exist in some sense prior to orange consciousness, only that they did not “ex-ist” or become apparent to humans until that structure could call them forth). The meditator, on the other hand, is activating the first-person singular dimensions of being-in-the-world, and is doing so from a third-tier state (from that vantage point, you can indeed realize nirvana, a state that actually “ex-ists” or can be realized in that worldspace). The two practitioners see different things, see different worlds, because they have different social practices, different paradigms, different injunctions. However, change your practice and you will see a different world, essentially the same different world seen by what you thought was your nemesis in the so-called paradigm clash.

      And what happens when one subject practices both conventional physics and meditation? Two general things: one, they almost always agree that both quarks and nirvana are real enough; and two, they almost always agree that the ground of nirvana is more encompassing than a quark. More precisely, they tend to see the reality or ground of a state like nirvana as including or enveloping manifest phenomena, such as quarks. This is the general principle of enfoldment, but now operating on a meta-paradigmatic or cross-paradigmatic fashion (an action Shankara labeled “subration”). Nonetheless, even in its cross-paradigmatic fashion, enfoldment never pronounces another truth to be not true, only less true. Again, nothing is lost, all is enfolded.

      —end excerpt—

      Yet, conventional educational and religious organizations are dysfunctional, and generally not up to the task (Habermas).

      Joe:

      The next paradigm is Holistic and Transpartisan (“transformational”). Until the ruling elites, or an alternative elite, adopts holism and transpartanism (Integral Politics), the continued delegitimization of social institutions will lead to more hopelessness, more despair, more cynicism.

      History teaches us that failed empires produce “Etherialists” and “Brutalists”. (David Brooks, “Among the Bourgeoisophobes” http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/001/102gwtnf.asp )

      The solution to the false/broken promises of The Plan are:

      1) DESCHOOLING (see Ivan Illich) – REJECT THE CURRENT ESTABLISHMENT
      2) SPIRITUAL/INDIVIDUAL SOLUTION: OPT OUT OF IGNORANCE AND APATHY
      3) STRUCTURAL SOLUTION: INTEGRAL/TRANSPARTISAN POLITICS

      http://fabiusmaximus.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/26538/

      broken URL:
      http://fabiusmaximus.wordpress.com/
      2011/
      04/
      08/
      26538/

      excerpts:

      Origins of what may become the 3rd American Republic (a plutocracy)8 April 2011
      tags: constitution, david runcimanby Fabius Maximus
      Summary:  The article excerpted here provides a powerful explanation for the evolution of our political system during the past 35 years to favor the super-rich, becoming in effect a plutocracy.  It even provides an excuse for us, the citizens.  If you consider ignorance and apathy to be excuses.Review by David Runciman (teaches politics at Cambridge) in the London Review of Books, 14 April 2011 — It’s open to non-subscribers, and well-worth reading in full.  If you don’t subscribe, I recommend doing so!Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World by Nicholas ShaxsonWinner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer – and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson… This is the question that Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson tackle in Winner-Take-All Politics. They don’t spend much time talking about offshore, but the story they tell has striking parallels with the one laid out by Shaxson.  One of the ways you can identify an offshore environment, according to Shaxson, is that local politics gets captured by financial services.  In that sense, Washington has gone offshore: its politics has been captured by the interests of a narrow group of very wealthy individuals, many of whom work in finance.  For Hacker and Pierson this, more than anything else, explains why the rich have got so much richer over the last 30 years or so.  And by the rich they don’t mean simply the generally wealthy; they mean the super-rich.The real beneficiaries of the explosion in income for top earners since the 1970s has been not the top 1 per cent but the top 0.1 per cent of the general population.  Since 1974, the share of national income of the top 0.1 per cent of Americans has grown from 2.7 to 12.3 per cent of the total, a truly mind-boggling level of redistribution from the have-nots to the haves.Who are these people?  As Hacker and Pierson note, they are ‘not, for the most part, superstars and celebrities in the arts, entertainment and sports.  Nor are they rentiers, living off their accumulated wealth, as was true in the early part of the last century.  A substantial majority are company executives and managers, and a growing share of these are financial company executives and managers.’Hacker and Pierson believe that politics is responsible for this.  It happened because law-makers and public officials allowed it to happen, not because international markets, or globalisation, or differentials in education or life-chances made it inevitable.  It was a choice, driven by the pressure of lobbyists and other organisations to create an environment much more hospitable to the needs of the very rich.  It was even so a particular kind of politics and a particular kind of choice.It wasn’t a conspiracy, because it happened in the open.  But nor was it an explicit political movement, characterised by rallies, speeches and electoral triumphs.  It relied in large part on what Hacker and Pierson call a process of drift: ‘systematic, prolonged failures of government to respond to the shifting realities of a dynamic economy’.  More often than not the politicians were persuaded to do nothing, to let up on enforcement, to look the other way, as money moved around the globe and up to the very top of the financial chain.  This chimes with what Shaxson says about the way the offshore system was allowed to develop over the last four decades.  Here too there was no real conspiracy, because there was no real need. Instead, it happened because ‘nobody was paying attention.’… It is easy to assume that if the rich have been winning in recent decades, the process must have started with the election of the pro-big business, anti-big government Ronald Reagan in 1980 (and concomitantly, Margaret Thatcher in Britain in 1979).  But Hacker and Pierson argue that the real turning point came in 1978, during the presidency of Jimmy Carter.  This was the year the lobbyists and other organised groups who were pushing hard to relax the burden of tax and regulation on wealthy individuals and corporate interests discovered that no one was pushing back all that hard.  Despite Democratic control of the White House and both Houses of Congress, 1978 saw the defeat of attempts to introduce progressive tax reform and to improve the legal position of trade unions.   Instead, legislation was passed that reduced the tax burden on corporations and increased the burden on their employees (through a hike in the payroll tax, a regressive measure).  All this happened because the politicians followed the path of least resistance – as elected politicians invariably do – and the better organised and better-funded resistance came from the representatives of big business, not organised labour….—end—

  • http://www.rossgreenspan.com rossgreenspan

    But would you ever SELL your vote? Ahaaaa… Capitalist Democracy is always for sale.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I would totally sell my vote. Since I think my vote is worth zero (I’m in New York so there’s only one direction New York goes in every election) I’d be happy to sell my vote for any price that takes into account time spent, privacy lost (jury duty, etc) plus premium.

  • Epierce

    BUSH WAS PUT IN POWER BY BIG OIL.

    OBAMA WAS PUT IN POWER BY BIG BANKS.

    SAME SH*T, DIFFERENT DAY.

    bias disclosure: I’ve been counterculture and anti-establishment since I read my first “Whole Earth Catalog” at about 11 years old.

    The conventional, classic explanation is that all imperialistic systems eventually overextend (militarily, etc.) and go bankrupt (both spiritually and financially).

    http://fabiusmaximus.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/26538/

    excerpt:

    | Origins of what may become the 3rd American Republic (a plutocracy)| 8 April 2011
    | tags: constitution, david runciman| by Fabius Maximus
    | Summary:  The article excerpted here provides a powerful explanation for the evolution of our political | system during the past 35 years to favor the super-rich, becoming in effect a plutocracy.  It even| provides an excuse for us, the citizens.  If you consider ignorance and apathy to be excuses.

    The working/middle classes made a deal with the ruling (wealthy) elites about 100 years ago, and that “social contract” is now broken in favor of the uber-wealthy. The middle classes are brainwashed (by mass media and edducational establishment) into thinking that the wealthy are benevolent. Global economics removed the last illusion that the wealthy care about a “DOCILE” working/middle class.

    In *1840* Alexis de Toqueville predicted that what we now know as postmodernism would cause a failure of democracy, as people both hate centralized power, and are depedent on it (in the absence of mythic, conformist belief in medieval social structures.)

    The only explanations I’ve ever seen that make sense on a deep level are based on esoteric theories of social decline. The education system ni the USA produces people that are dumbed down, and incapable of exercising responsible participation in civic affairs (a requirement for “real” democracy).

    Habermas refers to this as a “legitimization crisis”, or “colonization of lifeworld by systems”.

    http://people.ucalgary.ca/~frank/habermas.html

    excerpts:

    Habermas’s Theory of Communicative Action (published in two volumes, 1984, 1987)…

    …As advanced capitalist societies have developed, the core integrative function of communication has been increasingly disabled (Habermas would say “colonized”).  Thus the legitimation of social institutions, indeed of nation states, is in crisis.  By legitimation Habermas means citizens’ sense that the institutions within which they live are just, benevolent, in their best interest, and deserving of their support, loyalty, and adherence.  Legitimacy is clearly linked to social order,

    Habermas’s second criticism is that Parsons failed to understand the nature of the generalized media that he identified with each AGIL function.  Fill in these generalized media, as Parsons specified them:
    ·        Adaptation depends on the generalized medium of money,
    ·        Goal attainment depends on power (specified in votes),
    ·        I is influence, and
    ·        L is value-commitments. 
    Habermas makes a key observation about these media, and his the whole theory depends on this: there is a fundamental difference between two types of media. 
    ·        The A & G media, money and power (votes) are quantitative: both money and votes can be counted, and whoever has the most wins. 
    ·        The I & L media, by contrast, are qualitative: you can’t quantify influence or value-commitments, since these are only enacted in communication between persons.
     
    With this difference in mind, you can understand what colonization means.  In social settings that formerly operated by communicative media (I & L), the quantitative media (A & G) now dominate.  Rather than communicative action—people talking about their differences and coming to a common understanding—one (person, party, or interest) dominates the other by having more money or votes.  Colonization reduces the sphere in which communcative, qualitative media operate, and more of social life depends on non-communicative, quantitative media.  However—and this is key—the legitimacy of the quantative media ultimately depends on the qualitative media: the value of money and votes requires constant acts of influence and value-commitment, or the A & G media become worthless.  Money and votes are, after all, only worth as much as shared understandings assert them to be worth. 

    Now we return to two key terms: colonization and de-coupling.  The crisis of contemporary modernity (what remains unfinished about modernity as a project) is that the systems media (A & G) have become de-coupled from the lifeworld and its media (I & L).  The “societal community” of I & L are increasingly colonized, in the sense that members of the community have less sphere for communicative action.  Their relationships are increasingly mediated, locally, by money and power.  McDonalds is one example; the contemporary university is another.  In the university, department meetings could, ideally, be a place where communicative action takes place and influence and value-commitments are regenerated.  We could, in those meetings, attempt to reach common understandings.  In one meeting we were discussing a proposed change to the curriculum.  I was trying to ask a colleague why s/he wanted this change; my “communicative action” involved asking what s/he was trying to teach, how that teaching was going, and so forth.  The colleague’s response was: “If you don’t like the change, vote against it.”  In other words, s/he didn’t want to talk, explain, or reach a common understanding.  Instead we would each gather votes and whoever had the most votes would win.  Systems media (power, votes) had pushed out lifeworld media (appeals to common value commitments as a basis of influencing colleagues to believe one option or the other best represented who we want to be, as a departmental community).  It’s important to understand that this colleague acted in a milieu that the university as a system creates: money and power dominate, and local understands don’t count for much.  The colleague was part of this colonization process, but s/he was only reflecting a larger process.

    —end excerpts—

    The expected High Outrage, such as Tea Party populism was falsely appropriated by scum like the Koch Bros (Big Oil).

    The art of manipulating public opinion has been refined to an incredible extent:

    http://www.well.com/~hlr/vcbook/vcbook10.html

    excerpt:

    | The Virtual Community: Chapter Ten: Disinformocracy
    | By Howard Rheingold
    | …

    skip to the section titled:

    | The Selling of Democracy: Commodification and the Public Sphere

    SO, THE BASIC PROBLEM IS LACK OF LEGITIMACY AND AUTHENTICITY.

    INDIVIDUAL/SPIRITUAL SOLUTION: OPT OUT OF IGNORANCE AND APATHY

    STRUCTURAL SOLUTION: INTEGRAL, TRANSPARTISAN POLITICS

    RON PAUL HAS SUPPORTED THE TRANSPARTISAN MOVEMENT IN THE PAST.

    On the “other” side,, Rabbi Michael Learner of http://www.tikkun.com has some good ideas for how “Progressives” can incorporate spirituality into politics.

  • ZenPen

    “These capitalists generally act harmoniously, and in concert, to fleece the people, and now, that they have got into a quarrel with themselves, we are called upon to appropriate the people’s money to settle the quarrel.”- Pres. Abraham Lincoln, January 11, 1837

    “The mischief springs from the power which the monied interest derives from a paper currency which they are able to control, from the multitude of corporations with exclusive privileges which they have succeeded in obtaining…and unless you become more watchful in your states and check this spirit of monopoly and thirst for exclusive privileges you will in the end find that the most important powers of government have been given or bartered away….” — Pres. Andrew Jackson

    “Gentlemen, I have had men watching you for a long time and I am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the bank and annul its charter, I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves.” — Pres. Andrew Jackson

    “History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling money and it’s issuance.”- Pres. James Madison

    “Our great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is privately concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men…who necessarily by very reason of their own limitations, chill and check and destroy genuine economic freedom.” — Pres. Woodrow Wilson

    “The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the large centers has owned the government of the U.S. since the days of Andrew Jackson.” — Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt in a letter to Col. Edward Mandell House (1933); as quoted in F.D.R.: His Personal Letters, 1928-1945 pg. 373

    “It must be realized that whoever controls the volume of money in any country is absolutely master of all industry and commerce. And when you realise that the entire system is very easily controlled, one way or another, by a few powerful men at the top, you will not have to be told how periods of inflation and depression originate.” — Pres. James Garfield

    “The real rulers in Washington are invisible and exercise their power from behind the scenes.”— Justice Felix Frankfurter, U.S. Supreme Court

    “I have never seen more Senators express discontent with their jobs….I think the major cause is that, deep down in our hearts, we have been accomplices in doing something terrible and unforgivable to our wonderful country. Deep down in our heart, we know that we have given our children a legacy of bankruptcy. We have defrauded our country to get ourselves elected.”- Sen. John Danforth

    “It is well enough that the people of this nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.” — Henry Ford

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IIFXZ3WRYVDYRXW234EHWPDD2I Betsy

      Ok…way too long and quit just copying and pasting quotes. I could post just as many ripping socialism apart so you win no points.

      • Josh W

        Don’t be ridiculous! Posting actual criticisms of socialism just allows people to consider what to avoid. The problem is that while we may want to avoid the soviet union or some other random system in theory, we are in the system those quotes criticise _right now_.

        On the other hand, just posting quotes is a little boring, but at least it’s easy to skip if you want to.

  • michael

    Comments about Ron Paul?

    • Fubar

      Ron Paul has supported the transpartisan political movement in the past. Transpartisan politics is based on Integral Theory.

  • Ringlis44

    Funny how a bunch of slave-owning, drunks, farmers, capitalists, dreamers and lawyers figured out that:
    – Politics corrupts anyone eventually
    – Local politics is all that matters
    – Centralized government will crush freedoms

    And put together a document (although not perfect and based in the biases of the day), managed to set a decent foundation for a balanced system of government, (if followed).

    I do agree 3-party systems fail and voting locally is all that matters. 

    Public financing is a nice idea but it means you are using government to ‘manage’ the funding through taxes or other penalties – not ideal.  A cap on financing from any public source (corporation or private) would clearly level the field and actually force the campaigns to be smarter/better with their messages at the same time.  Would also cut the campaign length as limited funds would need to be managed better.

    Since everyone else seems to operate with a new financial restrictions, maybe its time for the same in politics….

    • Fubar

      The amerian colonial elites were fairly sophisticated people given how far from the center of civilization they were. Franklin was considered to be the best scientist in the world in his time. These people understood the deep philosophical debates of their day, and some were indeed at the leading edge of implementing ideas based on the new paradigm of capitalism, modernism and democracy.

      • Ringlis44

        Agree 100%.  I was being facetious in my description of the Founders, selling them short. 

        There is a lesson in them as well, one you clearly point out – genius doesn’t necessarily come from ‘acknowledged’ places of culture and learning.  Sometimes it comes from the wilderness….

  • Andrew W

    Voting is just like investing, you just don’t want to make the wrong mistake.

    • http://www.paulstaxi.com Paul The Cab Driver

      Voting is like pounding your head against a wall.  It is useless, and makes your head hurt.  But it feels so good when you stop.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mrt-Baggins/100003571171580 Mrt Baggins

      Funny, I have more than two choices when it comes to investing. I guess the question is, do I make a bad investment just so I can say I voted, like the rest of the conformist herd?

  • nysepete

    As I was graduating with my BA in Political Science back in ’96 I was repeatedly asked what I wanted to do in politics.  I said, and still say, “The more you know about politics, the less you should want to be in politics.”  And I still say it.  While I love reading and following political news – I never even imagined how ugly things would be someday.  Now, for example.  

    In response to several posters – the way we fund campaigns is only part of the problem.  The entire political industry, which is what it has become, is riddled with gray-area financing in more ways than I could ever mention.

    The first order of business should be Congressional Term Limits – that would cut down on so much intentional and unintentional corruption.  “Career Politician” could be wiped out of our vocabulary in many cases.

    Barring that – let’s go the Greek route – and many others, and instate “Confidence Votes” where we could wipe out the entire Congress at once.

    Both options are so totally logical however, so neither will ever happen.
    Why?  Congress would have to approve it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Edie-Spencer/1476372604 Edie Spencer

    You say this as if money being the controlling power in this country- or any country- was something new.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Well, really just giving my personal experience.

      • Fubar

        What is “new” is the PUBLIC visibility and boldness of the corrupt elements in american politics. The plutocrats are less willing to hide in dark corners and manipluate the government with bribes than they used to be. What this means is that hopelessness and cynicism have become more widespread than belief in authentic politics, or reform that places common interests above corrupt special interests.

        It used to be that deep corruption would eventually lead to widespread outrage and demand for change. Then  “reformist” politicians would rise to the challenge.

        That dynamic seems to have changed, most people know, either intuitively or more explciticly, that their complicity is necessary, and that those that have pandered to their unwillingless to overcome apathy and ignorance are only as responsible as the peolpe have allowed them to become.

  • Mikeymcd

    One of the best posts of all time.

  • Felix Perez

    Just become Libertarian and support making the government as small as possible. You always win eventually. Politicians become fairly useless in this ideology, so you don’t waste much time idolizing them and there are rarely candidates to vote for anyways!

    Government becomes so bloated with obligations, it eventually runs out of cash, leading to smaller govt (through total collapse, revolution or austerity). This is what happened in Estonia. After the soviet union collapsed, the entire country was managed by Prime Minister Mart Laar using a book by a Libertarian, “Free to Choose”. Very successful. 

    Certain cities in the U.S. have been forced to privatize everything just short of a police force because of revenue issues. They have been successful. Canada also went through much deregulation and austerity measures, it’s been good wherever they have been applied.

    You may never see your fav Libertarian candidate get elected, but each time the govt shrinks, you’ll feel like you’re winning. =D

    • Charles

      The post is about how private interests have perverted the government, and your ‘solution,’ is to hand near absolute power to those same private interests. Pure idiocy.

      • Fubar

        The only form of libertarianism that makes sense is anarcho-libertarianism.

        http://www.libertarian.co.uk/lapubs/econn/econn112.pdf

        excerpt:

        Libertariansand free-market conservatives will voice oppositionto state-owned enterprises, the social welfareand public health services, state-funded andoperated educational institutions, or regulatory bureausand agencies, such as those governing laborrelations, relations between racial, ethnic, and gendergroups, or those regulating the use of the environment.Curiously absent among many libertarian,conservative, or free-market critiques of interventionsby the state into society are the myriad ofways in which government acts to assist, protect,and, indeed, impose outright, an economic ordermaintained for the benefit of politically connectedplutocratic elites….Outof this process of transformation from personalgovernment to corporate government, the evolutionof a system of state-capitalist privilege that hassupplanted feudal privilege, the ever greater interactionand co-dependency between the plutocraticelite and the minions of the state, and the widerintegration of organized labor, political interestsgroups generated by mass democracy and unprecedentedexpansion of the public sector has emerged apolitico-economic order that might be referred toas the “new manorialism”. These “new manors”are the multitude of bureaucratic entities that maintainan institutional identity of their own, thoughtheir individual personnel may change with time,and who exist first and foremost for the sake oftheir own self-preservation, irrespective of theoriginal purposes for which they were ostensiblyestablished. The “new manors” may include institutionalentities that function asde jure arms of thestate, such as regulatory bureaus, police and other“law enforcement” agencies, state-run social servicedepartments or educational facilities, or they mayinclude … de jure arms of thestate, such as regulatory bureaus, police and other“law enforcement” agencies, state-run social servicedepartments or educational facilities, or they mayinclude … Out of this domestic state-capitalist order there hasemerged an overarching international order rootedin the pre-eminence of the American state-capitalistclass and its junior partners from a number of theother developed nations.—end excerpts——end excerpts—
        http://attackthesystem.com/free-enterprise-the-antidote-to-corporate-plutocracy/

        broken URL

        http://attackthesystem.com/
        free-enterprise-the-antidote-to-corporate-plutocracy/

        Conventional ideology is about (liberal/loving mommy) “big government” vs. (conservative/strict daddy) “big business”. In reality, they have largely become the same thing, and we have the worst of both, combined in an evil manner, a recombination of imperialist slave-war state.

        Most corporations and wealthy investors receive both indirect support and direct aid from the government.

        Most of the ruling elite is supported by the wealthy.

        It is a “hand in glove” system, “State Capitalism”.

        Wealthy media corporations distract the people from the real issues of power and concentration of money (exploitation and social injustice).

        Until the corrupt bankers/capitalists and corrupt politians are brought into court on charges of treason, nothing will change.

        Alexis de Toqueville predicted, in 1840, the american democracy would go into crisis because of a lack of moral, spirituall and cultural focus. The people would turn to centralized government as a last resort when other social insitutions failed, and they would develop an unhealthy dependence on central government, which they would eventually come to both “need” and hate.

      • Radmatty

        Getting rid of the state is how you take power away from the money interest. The state is the tool they use to abuse.

      • Bo

        You are correct, it is pure idiocy. Yours. Why do private interests as you say “pervert” (actually it’s “subvert” but I’ll let that slide) the government? Think real hard. Got it yet? Government has the monopoly on the use of force to run society in a geographical area. It is easy to spot where the power is concentrated – in the government. Of course people are going to jostle for control of that monopoly of force and power. It is only natural. It’s like a bright light to the moths, impossible to miss.

        Take away the monopoly on the use of force and where would those “private interests” turn to? They would actually have to compete. Corporations are a government “invention” – government gives a non-entity legal standing and rights as a living, breathing entity under its “laws”. There would be no “corporations” without the government. You have the whole thing backwards. You haven’t really looked deeply enough into the issues.

        • Thiago

          The best word is, indeed, “pervert” as in “transitive verb1a : to cause to turn aside or away from what is good or true or morally right : corrupt” (Websters)Evidently, “subvert” is also acceptable.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IIFXZ3WRYVDYRXW234EHWPDD2I Betsy

          Bo…you are brilliant.  Well said and 100% true. Thanks for setting the idiots straight.

        • Josh W

          Take away the monopoly on the use of force and you have warlords; private and competing use of force. Warlords don’t actually fight all the time, but they make sure they are the best at it so that although they do not have a monopoly on the use of force, they have a clear and insurmountable competitive advantage.

          And as far as hardcore libertarianism is concerned, who needs to control the government when you can just buy a monopoly; because the government only protects property rights, and does not take antitrust actions.

          Just buy the top of a river, poison or dam the river until the people dowstream sell you their farms, which will then be protected by your property rights forever, until the person downwind threatens you with acid rain. Look at how people took over mining rights in the wild west and you’ll see the same principle in action; use indirect forms of interaction not covered by the law to force your surrounding people into destitution, buy their stuff or call in the law when people resort to more obvious means to stop you.

  • Kjp712

    To get more people to vote,the Government should hand out free restaurant coupons at the polling station.Also eliminate baby-sitting expenses by letting Kids vote,too.

    • Felix Perez

      Actually, to get more people to vote, set election days on April 16th and give everyone the day off. Might be a few of those off years in terms of tax day landing later, but that’ll get people thinking.

  • http://www.paulstaxi.com Paul The Cab Driver

    This is why I vote every election in the most important election there is.  It is an election that YOU CAN in fact influence.  It is not corrupted by money, or interests or behind the scenes machinations.  And the impact is incredible.  After all, the winning team’s league gets home field advantage at the World Series.  yes, that’s right.  I vote for Major League Baseball’s All-Star teams.
    Politics?? PHOOEY!  It’s been corrupt since the murder of Tutankhamen.  What makes anyone think we can fix it now?

  • Anonymous

    Ron Paul.

    ‘Nuff said.

    He’s not in it for the money.  Gives back a portion of his budget every year.  He was a medical doctor but didn’t take medicare.  He helped those people for free or for a reduced price.  He didn’t even let his children take out government grants for school.  Voted “Taxpayers Best Friend” more times that you can count.  He doesn’t even take part in the Congressional pension plan.

    You can vote for whoever you want, but there’s only one man who has the integrity of a true statesman.

    Ron Paul 2012
     

  • Daman

    “A female friend of mine told me: “it was like the biggest orgasm I had
    felt in the past 10 years of my marriage” when Obama became President.”

    I hope you vowed never to speak again to this embarrassing waste of oxygen. 

    • Anonymous

      Could you imagine the misery her poor husband is living in?

  • Irishgirlsusie

    Politics are a scam, no doubt about that.  But, it’s our fault.  We are ill informed about most of the inner workings of government and the issues being voted on and passed, let alone the candidates being elected.  Yes, politicians are kings of spin.  I consider them master wordsmiths with little substance behind their words or work (sort of like consultants, but that’s a different story).  However, you can’t be a victim of their bull as you have a choice to have things different.  The fact that the masses choose to follow the mainstream without much thought or effort to the contrary just makes us idiots and fools.

    Like I already mentioned, it’s really all our fault. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/CoachGogo Gogo Erekosima

    As a Nigerian, and an American, I have a quote that I often share freely with clients, friends, family, and even the occasional stranger…today, I share with you.

    “There are melting pots, and bedfellows, ye know not of”

  • Anonymous

    The rules in the sandbox aren’t fair but the key is to figure out how to win the game.  Arguably the worst human emotion is self pity. 

  • Libertas

    When democracy is not conductive to protecting our individual freedom voting is like feeding your enemy. 

    When voting becomes a proxy to an unaccountable form of Government or ideologues that know better than you what is best for you its time to have a space for none of the above.      

  • Machi

    Reps and Dems
    Different Paths
    Same Destination

  • Kevin M

    Ok, that picture is creeping me out (the Bubama one). I voted for Obama (mostly b/c I wanted health care reform) but am severely disappointed he did not use what power he had to come down hard on Wall St and show America they were, in fact, for the middle class. That could have paid huge dividends for them, I always wonder what happened behind the scenes? Were they just too lazy to figure it out? After Gore won/lost I made sure to vote, just in case, but now I really don’t think it matters – the parties are so homogenous.

  • Kevin M

    Ok, that picture is creeping me out (the Bubama one). I voted for Obama (mostly b/c I wanted health care reform) but am severely disappointed he did not use what power he had to come down hard on Wall St and show America they were, in fact, for the middle class. That could have paid huge dividends for them, I always wonder what happened behind the scenes? Were they just too lazy to figure it out? After Gore won/lost I made sure to vote, just in case, but now I really don’t think it matters – the parties are so homogenous.

  • Anonymous

    Good article.  How about Harry Reid, started out with nothing, now he is one of the richest men in Nevada.  I’d love to know how that happened on his flimsy salary in gov’t.  These guys are all crooks and thieves as my husband likes to say.

    • Fubar

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Reid#Criticism

      Mafia “owns” Las Vegas, Mormons “run” Las Vegas.

      When the mafia was first building up Las Vegas, they needed “honest” people to help them run the casinos. the nearest candidates, just across the border in Utah, were Mormons.

      Harry Reid’s job is to keep the economy in Nevada running (through patronage, or whatever). Doing so accrues lots of benefit to Mormon businesses.

      (Harry Reid is a converted Mormon.)

      Example of “all politics is local”: there is a really nice freeway from Las Vegas/Henderson 40 miles across the desert to to the tiny town of Searchlight, Nv., Reid’s boyhood home.

  • Anonymous

    Voting in elections != Democracy

  • Amerikagulag

    I’ve been saying for years there is only ONE party in Washington DC. One BIG PARTY. And we are not invited.

    What this country needs is a second party. Failing that, a revolution.

  • Amerikagulag

    I’ve been saying for years there is only ONE party in Washington DC. One BIG PARTY. And we are not invited.

    What this country needs is a second party. Failing that, a revolution.

  • Anonymous

    A state cannot productively govern more than 2 million citizens.
    Time to decentralize the World into Cantons as in Switzerland https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Cantons_of_switzerland for better governance.

  • Anonymous

    A state cannot productively govern more than 2 million citizens.
    Time to decentralize the World into Cantons as in Switzerland https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Cantons_of_switzerland for better governance.

  • Dude

    Screw foreign aide and funding of planned parenthood. There is a difference between making money and creating real wealth. Otherwise, spot on article.

  • Justin

    Presidents are selected, not elected.

  • http://twitter.com/sirdanielsilva Daniel Silva

    I have a friend (truly) that is a staunch advocate of the Republic. He feels that the people don’t have enough bandwidth to give the issues the proper attention to be good judges of the great matters of our time. I can see his point of view. But he assumes the representatives are giving the issues the proper attention. I think they can do better.

  • Anonymous

    With the proliferation of internet and cell phones, voters can make informed decisions and directly vote on bills/laws

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Farah/100000689749486 Paul Farah

    Oh give me a physical break!  Vote for Ron Paul, as if electing ONE guy to one or two 4 yr terms will have even the slightest impact on 200 plus years of accumulated corruption.  If the man was elected, he’d be dead within days of his inauguration, as they tried to do to Ronald Reagan.  and even if he did manage to ram through any of his agenda, the next sociopath to come along would reinstate it all.  the solution is to free YOURSELF, not the government.  then pass that freedom on to others.Eventually the government  becomes irrelevant to those who are free.  And as it loses support, and starts losing power, it will grasp out and attempt to use force to maintain the status quo.  this increases the disloyalty, in an ever widening downward spiral until the government finally collapses in a heap of wreckage with NO pushing from outside.  It is then that we can pick up the pieces and go on.  the Ron Paul candidacy should be more about getting the message out than getting the man in office.

  • madcatwb

    I believe in any government two things are inevitable: corruption and revolution.  A government is in it’s purest form at the moment of it’s birth.  Corruption will seep into the ranks little by little, until the government is so saturated it no longer serves in the interest of the general public.  This is not when revolution occurs, however.  Revolution occurs when the powers become so arrogant that they no longer feel it necessary to conceal their actions and begin to do it openly and without fear of repercussion.  At that point, some of society will simply succumb, but most will be in denial.  It’s only after things become so unbearable that risking everything appears more attractive than sitting around hoping “someone” will do “something” about the problem.  That’s when revolution occurs.  That is also when the cycle starts all over.

    In case you were wondering, I believe we are currently in the “denial” stage. If you take a man’s home and give him a trailer, he will likely be grateful he still has a place to live and will not want to risk losing that.  If you take away his trailer and give him a tent, he will be happy he still has a tent to protect him from the rain.  If you take away his tent, you have a man with nothing left to lose and everything to gain, primed for revolution.  Our brains are wired for risk vs reward.  It’s only when the reward is greater than the risk that we will take action.

  • Anonymous

    Politics/patriotism/democracy/religion/corporates are no different than Ponzi/Pyramid schemes.

  • Bw

    Hey James,

    I commented a long while ago on this regarding third parties, and voting third party (with full knowledge the candidate will lose in this election). You seemed to disagree due to a “wasted vote”. Just thought this article from today was a good followup: http://www.cnn.com/2011/12/29/politics/americans-elect/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

    It’s about how an independent party is going to use the internet to do a non-partisan primary next year. They’ve already raised $22MM and it sounds like a first step to what I was talking about (making sure everyone knows JUST how disappointed we all are in our “two options”).

    Hope you find it interesting,
    BW

  • Anonymous

    Re-read this today in light of the silly primaries. I think this is one of your best posts, James. 

    Still…. I don’t agree with your solution. The option to pick someone else’s rulers for them, i.e., democracy, is part of the problem. The state itself is the other part.

  • http://twitter.com/Surazeus Simon Seamount

    Barack Obama, both George Bushes, Sarah Palin, John Hinckley jr, Mormon President Gordon Hinckley, and J.P. Morgan are all descendants of Samuel Hinckley.

    Having pointed that out, I will bring up the fact that there are two types of “freedom” fighting for supremacy in our world view as a nation.

    Obama represents the right of freedom for each person to do as they will without harming others.

    Romney represents the right of freedom for the rich to exploit everyone else for their personal gain.

  • http://twitter.com/Surazeus Simon Seamount

    Barack Obama, both George Bushes, Sarah Palin, John Hinckley jr, Mormon
    President Gordon Hinckley, and J.P. Morgan are all descendants of Samuel
    Hinckley.

    Having pointed that out, I will bring up the fact that there are two
    types of “freedom” fighting for supremacy in our world view as a nation.

    Obama represents the right of freedom for each person to do as they will without harming others.

    Romney represents the right of freedom for the rich to exploit everyone else for their personal gain.

  • hallibooboo

    No way that either bush sr or cheney are worth less than a billion. Especially after halliburton got the contract in iraq and the whole blackwater (now Xe i’m told) debacle. Oh yeah, and the shit ton of money daddy bush made with the iran contra scandal not to mention the shit ton of dough him and his son jacked from all their failed companies. Too bad off shore accounts were taken into consideration.

    • Eric Pierce

      http://www.thenation.com/blog/170546/tagg-romneys-company-misled-reporters-about-its-relationship-ponzi-scheme-linked-firm#

      These people are also involved in a company that sells voting machines!

      Some connections have been reported between Stanford/Solamere employees and fraudulent bank schemes in the Caribbean, drug smuggling and members of the the Iran-Contra scandals in Nicaragua/Honduras.

      excerpt:
      According to this form and this form filed with the SEC, Solamere Group owns a large stake in Solamere Advisors (referred to in the documents as “CAMG Solamere.”) So it is impossible to argue that Solamere Capital—the Romney family’s investment company—does not have direct financial ties with Solamere Advisors, the firm filled with executives who sold CDs as part of the Stanford fraud. The Stanford scandal is second only to the case of Bernie Madoff.

      The disclosures are made on part of the SEC website enhanced by the new Dodd-Frank law, the Wall Street reform Romney says he wants to repeal.