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Congressional Wake-up Call

It’s time for Congress to get their ACT TOGETHER before we do lose our Freedoms!

I’m a 69 yr old with a high school education. January 6th 2021 was obviously as close as we have come to losing our Democracy! I watched the Jan 6 Select Committee’s final hearing on December 19th. What worries me is that our members of Congress are working against each other

Instead of working together for the American people. Common sense tells me that the division in our country is the result of the partisan division in Congress!

A hi light that was aired during the hearing was that members of the Republican Party ignored subpoenas to appear in front of the Select Committee. In January 2023 the Republicans take over House. They say when they do they will be investigating Hunter Biden’s laptop, impeaching President Biden etc…. How do you think this will affect the American people when they send out subpoenas to Democrats, in a Tit for Tat, that most likely will be ignored!

That sends a message loud and clear to the American people that the Rule Of Law only pertains to the less fortunate!

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Dec 23, 2022Liked by Robert Reich

The most obscure but also most pertinent comment in Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations" is (paraphrased) that left to its own devices, a capitalist system will degenerate into cartels and monopolies. The value of capitalism comes not from the profit motive alone but from a free market, a market free of corruption, mainly fraud and collusion, not one free of policing as Republicans wrongly portend. Bernie missed the target with democratic socialism. What we lack is democratic capitalism, because in a democracy, the consumer majority would control the marketplace banning criminality and anti-competitive consolidations of industry. We were that under FDR, but starting with Reagan, Republicans, with the cooperation of foolish Democrats like Clinton, have torn down those protections. The corporatocracy, led by Charles Koch and a team of billionaires, have staged a successful coup and captured the courts, mainly by first corrupting enough of Congress focusing on the Senate. The captured court then cemented their power by blessing perverse interpretations of the Constitution and voiding righteous laws. (The Trump coup provided effective distraction from the coup that captured SCOTUS adding the worst of the worst. We lost most of our democracy before January 6 but still haven't realized it.) Too few candidates can win without subjugating themselves to the money people, so we now have a government of, by and for the corporations suborning growing monopolies, the goal Peter Theil openly called for. In conclusion, if we had a working democracy, the capitalists would be reigned in rendering their sociopathic greed irrelevant. Capitalism without democracy isn't real capitalism because it devolves into oligarchy, or socialism by proxy under government sanctioned monopolies and cartels. The Republicans are the real socialists! Trump, Bankman-Fried and Muk are symptoms, not the cause. OUR message should be a return to 'democratic capitalism' from today's oligarchy, cartel capitalism, or what I'd call proxy socialism by corrupt government sanctioned cartels. We cannot win this battle while a captured SCOTUS rewrites the Constitution to put "democracy in chains" as author Nancy MacLean explained it. The root of this evil is the capture of the courts and Congress by the money cartel. The voices of dark money now out shouts the voices of the people. Greasing the skids of our downfall is the pervasive civic ignorance of the voting public that makes them gullible to vote against their own interests, which is something we could address more effectively.

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Dec 23, 2022Liked by Robert Reich

“Trump, Bankman-Fried, and Musk are the monsters of American capitalism — as much products of this public-be-damned era as they are contributors to it. For them, and for everyone who still regards them as heroes, there is no morality in business or economics. The winnings go to the most ruthless. Principles are for sissies.” Wow, fantastic framing of a very harsh reality. Great article sir.

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#TaxTheRich thats my comment. The system is corrupt, not just these three.

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Modern capitalism is based on a myth, probably best articulated by Julian Simon, that there is a capacity for unlimited growth on planet earth. Even 8, 10 or 15 billion people can fit here. Another mind is another resource, not a sign of an over-loaded planet. Accumulations of wealth are simple anomalies that will get sorted out through time if government does not interfere. Well, they are not anomalies, they are reinforcing feedback loops that will destroy the system if the energy put into them is not turned off, like the feedback loop of a badly placed mic at a rock concert. Trump, Bankman-Fried and Musk are simply mics that our political system has not turned off in time.

How do we stop this? One simple way, rejected by every modern Republican (and many Democrats) is reinstatement of the high graduated income tax, where deductions are not allowed above a certain income level. If we went back to the Roosevelt era, thinking that the climate crisis is equivalent to WWII, and funded our response with a 95% tax on anything above say $2,000,000 a year (and perhaps 50% above $200,000 but allowing deductions to 2 million) then we could fund a global response to the climate crisis, which also involves a lot of social justice actions. Of course, we would also have to deal with the other reinforcing feedback loop of military spending (an energy drain, and gift to billionaires) which seems even harder than responding to the climate crisis. Any way you look at this we are in deep poo-poo. (We could compost that and use it for fertilizer, but that is another story.)

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Money corrupts. Big money corrupts bigly. Look at our neighbors south of the border. Why do narcos escape from jail? Why do respected and trusted military officers and prosecutors end up in the pockets of the narcos? Indeed, why do presidents and governors protect these same narcos? Money. Money always wins. And in America, because the "movement conservatives" have broken down the guardrails, money wins here. The rich have the tax game rigged against us, and the capitalists spit on the rules. We are still in a life or death battle over our democracy, with a Supreme Court that uses Dred Scott as its inspiration. Confederates rise like weeds in Texas and Florida, and one of our political parties has entirely lost its principles as well as its mind.

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The examples are really three incantations of something terribly wrong. The "red thread" running through the three examples is a lack of empathy or compassion for others.

Two of the individuals have clearly demonstrated in their own right a lack of caring for others. I am reminded in some ways of my first professional job involved reviewing death penalty inmate cases. Many defendants were psychopaths and seeing what such a lack of caring for others can do was truly terrifying to a 20-something fresh out of school. Add billions of wealth and access to instruments of power and destruction to the mix and the results can be horrific. When all guard rails are gone, something like the Ukrainian situation happens.

I suspect that the third example is different and may involve players in the background using a younger person's fascination with a new technology as a way to bypass natural inhibitions. The very concerning part of this is that the same players are buying and selling politicians and trying to run auctions rather than elections.

Getting past these situations will take, at a minimum, a wide-spread commitment to "shared propensity." Bernie's new book "It's OK to Be Angry About Capitalism" has some messages worth considering. And, although always to take in context, China's Common Prosperity Policy has some lessons as well.

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Let's add Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel, and Larry Ellison (off the top of my head, there certainly are more rich tech geeks) to the list. Personally, Musk became even more of a pariah to me once he unleashed his "venom" on TWITTER making him, in my mind, as dangerous as Zuckerberg. I'm not a participant in the social media craze - but, i've pictured the rise in the militia movement and the threat to our democratic republic from right wing neo-Nazi groups as parallel to the evolution of Facebook, Twitter, and the other social media outlets. We saw in the 2022 election these people (Musk, Theil, Ellison, Zuckerberg) support "republicans" clearly knowing they stood for the "Big Lie." Musk is showing signs of being a QAnon nut job and, both Musk and Zuckerberg, are opening the platforms they control back up to those spewing mis/disinformation. Trump will soon be back on Facebook and, likely TWITTER once his own social media adventure goes "belly up." We often read/hear about "Russian oligarchs" - I think it's time to begin identifying the America oligarchs and deciding as a nation how much wealth they have to accrue before regulations aimed at the "common good" are instituted.

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Add to your list of three the Sackler gang who made billions selling a poisonous drug that has killed thousands.

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Excellent analysis! There needs to be accountability for anyone who breaks the law, especially in the upper reaches of government & the corporate world. Once corruption is accepted in a country, it gets worse very fast, & is very hard to get rid of.

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The IRS should have been auditing trump and for decades NYC and NY state should have been investigating the Orange Monster. He is still with us in part because of their no action.

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The brilliant satirist Andy Borowitz of The New Yorker captures so much of what grates at the mind and soul using satire and humor in ways that get at the subjects with perfect clarity. Here are some of his most recent headlines that are pertinent to Robert Reich’s also brilliant commentary:

(Re Bankman-Fried and cryptocurrency):

Satire from The Borowitz Report

World Shocked That Man Running Business Based On Imaginary Money Might Be Fraud

“Of all of the firms offering big returns on made-up money, this one seemed the most solid,” a resident of London said.

By Andy Borowitz

Satire from The Borowitz Report

Trump Calls for Termination of Constitution Except Fifth Amendment

“I haven’t read the Constitution, but, from what I’ve been told, most of it is a waste of paper, quite frankly.”

By Andy Borowitz

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The nature of greed is that it has no bounds, it is insatiable, it will never stop of itself. The pitfalls of unbridled capitalism, whereby it, like any other aspect of society that is not “regulated“ by commonsense laws for the protection, good, and benefit of all, are absolutely the same as democracy’s archenemies, communism and authoritarianism, the society loses. In any political system, the powerful who have inordinately enriched themselves enough to dictate governance, and not pay taxes to boot, will not stop until havoc is created in such measure that everyone loses in the end by social unrest, wars, depressions, etc, because another nature of greed is that it is infinitely misguided and shortsighted. What are we to do with the lobbies of the wealthy and the corporations that keep us from creating protective regulation and the enactment of just laws? There was a glimmer of hope just this week in looking at Trump’s tax return. We were hearing right and left that’s what the wealthy do, that they do not pay their taxes, and therefore that it’s the lower economic classes subsidizing them. Is it possible that once and for all the cat is truly out of the bag for the masses at large to see from Trump’s returns that the wealthiest evade paying taxes, and that the IRS, for whatever reason, corruption or understaffing, is NOT doing its job. WHAT??!!! Is this for real?! THIS, in the United States of America? How great would we be if it were otherwise? Yeah, let’s make America GREAT again, I mean GREATER at last! Why on earth are the Republicans so against regulations, education, medical care, social safety nets, etc, etc. Is it because it takes more taxes to take care of those, besides no constraints to their greed, the topic at hand? I know, naive question. Thing is, when you think on it, not all Republicans are wealthy. What are the rather unenlightened religious extremists and garden-variety racists thinking of? It’s like what they did with Covid, politicizing Science, they are in much greater proportion the ones dying of it now. Do they really think the Republican wealthy care in the least little bit for them, except for their vote?! OK, sorry, that’s a lot of topics. Thank you Mr. Reich, you really know how to pose a question, ALL the questions that mean anything at all.

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----------------here's a meme going around-------------------------------

Elon Musk is trying to buy the conversation.

Peter Thiel is trying to buy a dictatorship.

Jeff Bezos is trying to buy the marketplace.

Zuckerberg is trying to buy our minds.

Taxing the rich isn't just about helping the poor.  it's about stopping them from owning everything.

you could expand the list with

Bankman- Fried is trying to buy the money.

Charles Koch is trying to buy justice

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I am glad you mentioned Adam Smith's lessees known work. I with those who wear Adam Smith neckties would actually read what he wrote rather than select quotes.

Bob, you worked for a President who signed legislation to end Glass Steagle which regulated markets, which was a crowning legislation of the New Deal. I am sorry if I misspelled the second name, but let' give responsibility to those who acted.

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Capitalism is completely incompatible with democracy. Virtually every problem our nation and the world faces has been brought on by Capitalism, an economic system whose very basis is the abandonment of the common good in the relentless pursuit of individual profit no matter the harm to others, the environment, or what remains of our democracy. Time to cast aside this failed system!

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