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Author Topic: The Gyrocopter Pilot's letter  (Read 1053 times)

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Offline VekseidTopic starter

The Gyrocopter Pilot's letter
« on: April 20, 2015, 01:13:03 AM »
Since, apparently, rather few mainstream sources are presenting it:



Dear ___________,

Consider the following statement by John Kerry in his farewell speech to the Senate —

"The unending chase for money I believe threatens to steal our democracy itself. They know it. They know we know it. And yet, Nothing Happens!" — John Kerry, 2-13

In a July 2012 Gallup poll, 87% tagged corruption in the federal government as extremely important or very important, placing this issue just barely behind job creation. According to Gallup, public faith in Congress is at a 41-year record low, 7%. (June 2014) Kerry is correct. The popular perception outside the DC beltway is that the federal government is corrupt and the US Congress is the major problem. As a voter, I’m a member of the only political body with authority over Congress. I’m demanding reform and declaring a voter’s rebellion in a manner consistent with Jefferson’s description of rights in the Declaration of Independence. As a member of Congress, you have three options.

1. You may pretend corruption does not exist.

2. You may pretend to oppose corruption while you sabotage reform.

3. You may actively participate in real reform.

If you’re considering option 1, you may wonder if voters really know what the 'chase for money' is. Your dismal and declining popularity documented by Gallup suggests we know, but allow a few examples, by no means a complete list. That these practices are legal does not make them right! Obviously, it is Congress who writes the laws that make corruption legal.

1. Dozens of major and very profitable corporations pay nothing in taxes. Voters know how this is done. Corporations pay millions to lobbyists for special legislation. Many companies on the list of freeloaders are household names — GE, Boeing, Exxon Mobil, Verizon, Citigroup, Dow …

2. Almost half of the retiring members of Congress from 1998 to 2004 got jobs as lobbyists earning on average fourteen times their Congressional salary. (50% of the Senate, 42% of the House)

3. The new democratic freshmen to the US House in 2012 were 'advised' by the party to schedule 4 hours per day on the phones fund raising at party headquarters (because fund raising is illegal from gov’t offices.) It is the donors with deep pockets who get the calls, but seldom do the priorities of the rich donor help the average citizen.

4. The relevant (rich) donors who command the attention of Congress are only .05% of the public (5 people in a thousand) but these aristocrats of both parties are who Congress really works for. As a member of the US Congress, you should work only for The People.

1. Not yourself.

2. Not your political party.

3. Not the richest donors to your campaign.

4. Not the lobbyist company who will hire you after your leave Congress.

There are several credible groups working to reform Congress. Their evaluations of the problem are remarkably in agreement though the leadership (and membership) may lean conservative or liberal. They see the corrupting effect of money — how the current rules empower special interests through lobbyists and PACs — robbing the average American of any representation on any issue where the connected have a stake. This is not democracy even if the ritual of elections is maintained.

The various mechanisms which funnel money to candidates and congress-persons are complex. It happens before they are elected, while they are in office and after they leave Congress. Fortunately, a solution to corruption is not complicated. All the proposals are built around either reform legislation or a Constitutional Amendment. Actually, we need both — a constitutional amendment and legislation.

There will be discussion about the structure and details of reform. As I see it, campaign finance reform is the cornerstone of building an honest Congress. Erect a wall of separation between our elected officials and big money. This you must do — or your replacement will do. A corporation is not 'people' and no individual should be allowed to spend hundreds of millions to 'influence' an election. That much money is a megaphone which drowns out the voices of 'We the People.' Next, a retired member of Congress has a lifelong obligation to avoid the appearance of impropriety. That almost half the retired members of Congress work as lobbyists and make millions of dollars per year smells like bribery, however legal. It must end. Pass real campaign finance reform and prohibit even the appearance of payola after retirement and you will be part of a Congress I can respect.

The states have the power to pass a Constitutional Amendment without Congress — and we will. You in Congress will likely embrace the change just to survive, because liberals and conservatives won’t settle for less than democracy. The leadership and organization to coordinate a voters revolution exist now! New groups will add their voices because the vast majority of Americans believe in the real democracy we once had, which Congress over time has eroded to the corrupt, dysfunctional plutocracy we have.

The question is where YOU individually stand. You have three options and you must choose.

Sincerely,

Douglas M. Hughes

www.TheDemocracyClub.org

Offline VekseidTopic starter

Re: The Gyrocopter Pilot's letter
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2015, 01:15:29 AM »
One of the thoughts that struck me in the wake of the Citizen's United decision:

When a con artist makes money, it's called fraud.
When a drug lord hides where their money comes from, it's called laundering.
When you bribe a politician, it's now called 'speech'.

Offline Cassandra LeMay

Re: The Gyrocopter Pilot's letter
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2015, 01:58:22 AM »
When you bribe a politician, it's now called 'speech'.
Is it really bribery? In many cases I think that is not quite the right word to describe what happens. A bribe is, by definition, intended to change the recipients behavior, to make them act in a way they would not act without the bribe. But it seems to me that many politicians favor big business already, based on their own believes that deregulation is the holy grail of economics and that what is good for big business is good for the country.

Massive campaign contributions by large companies can certainly tip elections in favor of candidates who are happy to help big business, but I have my doubts that the politicians now in Congress would act all that different if they hadn't received a penny from large corporate donors during their election campaigns. In so far I am not so certain that we can really talk about "bribes" in many cases.

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Re: The Gyrocopter Pilot's letter
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2015, 06:24:01 AM »
Politicians are supposed to be acting in the best interests of their constituents.  It's patently clear that at least some of them are not.  Therefore, they are acting under at least one of the four 'Nots' that Mr. Hughes listed.  As long as Citizens United is on the books, it may be hard to distinguish one from the others.

Not that it matters, as they are all 'Nots'.

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Re: The Gyrocopter Pilot's letter
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2015, 07:54:55 AM »
Three-Part Extra Credits video series



I genuinely think that the problem is that when you look at American politics, the congressman is so outside of the laws he pushes that it's not even funny anymore. They are so untouched that the incentive to do what their voters want isn't really that powerful, but doing what someone who can pay them tons of many can affects them more.

That's wrong.

My Constitutional History professor blames it on the Amendment that allows popular election of senators. By giving control directly to the people it as actually opened it up to corporate canoodling. It used to be that we elected the Representatives, and they would take a vote to elect senators. If the senators didn't perform the representatives would be out of a job, and I don't think there's a single corporate entity who can pay off every representative. You might be able to buy up one of the smaller states, you know a real winner like Rhode Island. However, by comparison, one hundred senators is chump change. I asked him why don't we repeal the amendment then, and he gave a fairly astute answer of American democracy.

"People will only see it as you taking away their right to vote."

I think that kind of shows how keyed into buzzwords the American populace is. People who won't even get out of bed to vote for a senator, would get up in arms if you took that away, even if it is absolutely detrimental to the system. Still, what if people all get out and vote, it still leaves it really open to the corporate bribery that's so rampant. So even with all the best intentions, John and Jane Voter are still left with a vote that is next to worthless. Because the corporations are constantly going over the votor's heads. The sad truth is we can't trust our senators to be incorruptible. Again, because they are so far removed from the process that actually puts them into office.

It's easy to complain whether or not social healthcare is saving/ruining the country when you're set up with a lifetime healthcare package because you're a senator (like the vids say). At least representatives have to go back to their home state and get dirty looks (or be run out of town).

For me personally, there is no functional difference between a Democrat and a Republican anymore. They have been fighting each other for so long they've become indistinguishable from one another like all sides of any conflict that goes on for too long. I don't even get the idea that they even believe in (or even really know) what their party stands for anymore. American politics just seems to chew up idealists and corrupt them, spitting out more jaded, greedy politicians, and I think the longer it goes on the harder it will be for the citizen voter to affect a change. 

Offline DarknessBorne

Re: The Gyrocopter Pilot's letter
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2015, 09:01:17 PM »
I think the American system is simply too old.  Empires have life expectancies.  This one peaked decades ago, and is now well past its shelf life.  The only question is does it go out with a bang, or a whimper?  If we're lucky, it will wind down like the British Empire did, with America retaining its homeland territorial integrity and becoming a regional hegemon with a relatively high standard of living, rather than a global superpower.  If we're unlucky, some corn-pone Hitler will rise up out of the South's asteroid belt of trailer parks and get a majority of the people into backing his quest to "rebuild" an America that "walks tall again," which will likely result in nukes being swapped and areas being rendered uninhabitable as we are blasted into the Third World.

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Re: The Gyrocopter Pilot's letter
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2015, 09:39:21 PM »
Fun FactTM:  The term 'Third World' arose during the Cold War to designate countries that chose not to align with either NATO or the Communist Bloc.

[/trivia]

(I've been waiting for a week to drop that one somewhere.)

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Re: The Gyrocopter Pilot's letter
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2015, 07:54:55 AM »
I think the American system is simply too old.  Empires have life expectancies.  This one peaked decades ago, and is now well past its shelf life.  The only question is does it go out with a bang, or a whimper?  If we're lucky, it will wind down like the British Empire did, with America retaining its homeland territorial integrity and becoming a regional hegemon with a relatively high standard of living, rather than a global superpower.  If we're unlucky, some corn-pone Hitler will rise up out of the South's asteroid belt of trailer parks and get a majority of the people into backing his quest to "rebuild" an America that "walks tall again," which will likely result in nukes being swapped and areas being rendered uninhabitable as we are blasted into the Third World.
Why would it be the South, honestly, if we're headed toward another schism it'll be East V. West.

It's just as likely to come out of California, Texas, Arizona, or some some Northern state. 

Honestly, if the South were to do a whole WMD thing it'd be with chemical weapons. Google Redstone Arsenal. One of the--if not the--largest chemical weapon storage facility in the US.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2015, 07:56:47 AM by Inkidu »

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Re: The Gyrocopter Pilot's letter
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2015, 08:59:12 AM »
I think our system works fine actually, its just that we have far too many corrupt, brainless idiots running the place.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: The Gyrocopter Pilot's letter
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2015, 09:11:01 AM »
That would indicate there is a problem then as the brainless idiots running the place destroy everything.

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Re: The Gyrocopter Pilot's letter
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2015, 09:18:53 AM »
I think it would indicate a problem with the American populace at large. :P

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Re: The Gyrocopter Pilot's letter
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2015, 09:44:48 AM »
I think it would indicate a problem with the American populace at large. :P

No, just people in general.

As the saying goes "A person is smart. But people are dumb"

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: The Gyrocopter Pilot's letter
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2015, 10:26:34 AM »
I don't think any discussion benefits from gross generalization.

Offline Top Cat

Re: The Gyrocopter Pilot's letter
« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2015, 02:04:25 PM »
If we're going to try to evaluate why the US government system is so screwed up, you need to look back a bit to the rise of corporate power. The US corporate system is structured in such a way that corporate executives are beholden only to the corporation itself, and to making money over all. This structure hugely benefits from sociopathic behavior, and as such, rewards and encourages sociopaths. Modern government has a very strong tie to corporate culture, and as such, mirrors this attitude of rewarding and encouraging sociopathic behavior.

In short, successful politicians succeed by doing what benefits them, and whitewashing it to make it sound like it's beneficial to their city/state/country. Idealized politicians who want to do what's right and protect their electorate typically get blown away by the sociopaths.

Offline consortium11

Re: The Gyrocopter Pilot's letter
« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2015, 05:52:12 PM »
The US corporate system is structured in such a way that corporate executives are beholden only to the corporation itself, and to making money over all.

Who should the executives of a company be beholden to other than the owners of the company itself?

Offline Zakharra

Re: The Gyrocopter Pilot's letter
« Reply #15 on: April 22, 2015, 07:52:15 PM »
I think the American system is simply too old.  Empires have life expectancies.  This one peaked decades ago, and is now well past its shelf life.  The only question is does it go out with a bang, or a whimper?  If we're lucky, it will wind down like the British Empire did, with America retaining its homeland territorial integrity and becoming a regional hegemon with a relatively high standard of living, rather than a global superpower.  If we're unlucky, some corn-pone Hitler will rise up out of the South's asteroid belt of trailer parks and get a majority of the people into backing his quest to "rebuild" an America that "walks tall again," which will likely result in nukes being swapped and areas being rendered uninhabitable as we are blasted into the Third World.

 That's a very pessimistic view of things.

Offline VekseidTopic starter

Re: The Gyrocopter Pilot's letter
« Reply #16 on: April 22, 2015, 11:21:50 PM »
Is it really bribery? In many cases I think that is not quite the right word to describe what happens. A bribe is, by definition, intended to change the recipients behavior, to make them act in a way they would not act without the bribe. But it seems to me that many politicians favor big business already, based on their own believes that deregulation is the holy grail of economics and that what is good for big business is good for the country.

Massive campaign contributions by large companies can certainly tip elections in favor of candidates who are happy to help big business, but I have my doubts that the politicians now in Congress would act all that different if they hadn't received a penny from large corporate donors during their election campaigns. In so far I am not so certain that we can really talk about "bribes" in many cases.

If only there was a class of official who was elected in some positions, eras and jurisdictions, and appointed in others, so that we could test this hypothesis:


Offline ThePrince

Re: The Gyrocopter Pilot's letter
« Reply #17 on: April 23, 2015, 09:19:36 AM »
Personally I think that gerrymandering is a more clear and present threat to our government than campaign finance laws. It's funny because last presidential election, the Citizens United ruling actually hindered those who tried to out right buy a candidate.

Offline Top Cat

Re: The Gyrocopter Pilot's letter
« Reply #18 on: April 23, 2015, 01:41:27 PM »
Who should the executives of a company be beholden to other than the owners of the company itself?
This is probably getting a bit off-topic, but do you think it would be a bad requirement for corporations to at worst be a neutral effect on their communities, and not a blight on the surrounding neighborhood/city/state?

This is going beyond just the case of "don't poison the river" (which, as I'm sure you know, corporations have done in the past - it was too expensive to get rid of some toxic by-products in a safe manner, so they just dumped wherever they could) and "don't pollute the air" (which is still a toxic problem in some regions), but I don't think it's unreasonable to expect corporations to spend some of their profits to enrich their communities - the communities that enable those profits in the first place.

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Re: The Gyrocopter Pilot's letter
« Reply #19 on: April 23, 2015, 02:13:18 PM »
This is probably getting a bit off-topic, but do you think it would be a bad requirement for corporations to at worst be a neutral effect on their communities, and not a blight on the surrounding neighborhood/city/state?

This is going beyond just the case of "don't poison the river" (which, as I'm sure you know, corporations have done in the past - it was too expensive to get rid of some toxic by-products in a safe manner, so they just dumped wherever they could) and "don't pollute the air" (which is still a toxic problem in some regions), but I don't think it's unreasonable to expect corporations to spend some of their profits to enrich their communities - the communities that enable those profits in the first place.

I'm sure the recent activities of the water-bottling and fracking companies out in California could do with some regulation.  (For those outside the US, California is on drought-emergency water restrictions.  Somehow, the corporations that are using the most water in the state have gotten exemptions from those restrictions.)

Offline consortium11

Re: The Gyrocopter Pilot's letter
« Reply #20 on: April 23, 2015, 04:30:53 PM »
This is probably getting a bit off-topic, but do you think it would be a bad requirement for corporations to at worst be a neutral effect on their communities, and not a blight on the surrounding neighborhood/city/state?

The issue here is the standard one... what definition are we using of neutral and what definition are we using as "their community"?

Take for example BAE Systems (and British Aerospace before it) and Saudi Arabia, specifically the Al-Yamamah arms deal. In short BA and then BAE paid a huge number of large bribes to Saudi officials in exchange for billions worth of deals. But the impact on that was undoubtedly positive on BAE's community; it kept factories busy, kept workers in jobs etc etc. Hell, one of the reasons the UK investigation into it was discontinued was because it had been and was in the public interest for the UK for the deals to have gone through and keep going through.

Under any regulatory and corporate regime that required a corporation to work in the public interest then those bribes would have been a good thing and the executives of a company would have been obligated (or at least under serious pressure) to do so.

Furthermore unless you're arguing that the obligation of executives should be to their community (however we define it) rather than the company then adding a "be at worst neutral" (and how exactly is that judged? At the time? With hindsight?) component doesn't change the basic fact that an executives duty is first to the owners of the company.

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Re: The Gyrocopter Pilot's letter
« Reply #21 on: April 24, 2015, 08:47:03 AM »
Further, it seems a little weird to single corporations out in that way.  Why do people, private citizens, not have an obligation to invest some of their profits to enrich their communities - the communities that enable those profits in the first place.  I don't really see why the line would be drawn there.

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Re: The Gyrocopter Pilot's letter
« Reply #22 on: April 25, 2015, 08:08:40 PM »
Well no one with a job with benefits or a retirement package can really say they're anti-corporation. Pensions, retirement funds, benefits packages all come at the cost of some kind of investment. You can rest assured that someone on some level is playing the stock market with someone else's money. :|

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Re: The Gyrocopter Pilot's letter
« Reply #23 on: April 30, 2015, 10:50:26 PM »
Quote
Further, it seems a little weird to single corporations out in that way.  Why do people, private citizens, not have an obligation to invest some of their profits to enrich their communities - the communities that enable those profits in the first place.  I don't really see why the line would be drawn there.

Private citizens usually invest something much more precious than money in their communities--they invest time.  Literally, the irreplacable seconds of their lives that no amount of money can buy back.  Corporations and communities are similar in that they are groups of people...but communities are much more organic and, well...democratic.  Corporations are, by their nature, very feudal: top-down organizations, wealth concentrated heavily at the top.  One could almost say that they are the modern variant of feudalism, changed over time to a different system, but with the same results.  Like feudalism, corporations nominally see workers as replaceable cogs, like serfs, and, throughout history, one can see how the natural order of things in corporations is to focus power and money in the top.  Unions came along, much like guilds (and the middle class) in the past, but this is a back-and-forth condition of human civilization, and now we have declining union membership and the Citizens United decision, which is an abomination of the highest order.

Really, all of this is just the most recently-evolved version of human nature.  There has always been a conflict among humanity for some to hoard and concentrate wealth, and others to work for more equitable and just solutions.  Human history is chock full of these scenarios.  What we see now is just the current example of it.

The comments by Top Cat about the nature of sociopaths and their successes in corporate life and politics hit the nail on the head.  Those with no empathy towards their fellow human beings will always do better in the faceless, cutthroat worlds of politics and corporations, where humans become numbers...numbers that hold less value than profits.