People vs Corporations

Barry Ritzholtz, The Left Right Paradigm Is Over, discusses a paradigm shift that is happening in politics:

For a long time, American politics has been defined by a Left/Right dynamic. It was Liberals versus Conservatives on a variety of issues. Pro-Life versus Pro-Choice, Tax Cuts vs. More Spending, Pro-War vs Peaceniks, Environmental Protections vs. Economic Growth, Pro-Union vs. Union-Free, Gay Marriage vs. Family Values, School Choice vs. Public Schools, Regulation vs. Free Markets.

The new dynamic, however, has moved past the old Left Right paradigm. We now live in an era defined by increasing Corporate influence and authority over the individual. These two “interest groups” – I can barely suppress snorting derisively over that phrase – have been on a headlong collision course for decades, which came to a head with the financial collapse and bailouts. Where there is massive concentrations of wealth and influence, there will be abuse of power.  The Individual has been supplanted in the political process nearly entirely by corporate money, legislative influence, campaign contributions, even free speech rights.

This may not be a brilliant insight, but it is surely an overlooked one. It is now an Individual vs. Corporate debate – and the Humans are losing.

Barry goes on to list a few examples, all of which are spot on. Loyalists want to know why the turn against Obama?  This pretty well sums it up:

For those of you who are stuck in the old Left/Right debate, you are missing the bigger picture. Consider this about the Bailouts: It was a right-winger who bailed out all of the big banks, Fannie Mae, and AIG in the first place; then his left winger successor continued to pour more money into the fire pit.

What difference did the Left/Right dynamic make? Almost none whatsoever.

Likely, there are very few people in the partisan blogosphere that see's the world this way. So its not surprising that its from out of the financial blogosphere that this insight comes... If you see the world in terms of Left & Right, you really aren’t seeing the world at all . . .

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26 Comments

Nothing new

Calling this theory a "new dynamic" or paradigm is false. These kinds of complaints - people vs the powerful is a very common complaint among populist causes. I'm pretty sure if we look back 15 or 30 or 50 years we will see similar articles been written.

by vecky 2010-09-28 03:24PM | 0 recs
RE: Nothing new

That'd be real interesing, given that the recent extreme divide of partisanship is... recent.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-09-28 03:42PM | 0 recs
RE: Nothing new

I don't see it being any different from 2004 or 1994 for that matter.

by vecky 2010-09-29 12:39PM | 0 recs
RE: Nothing new

Wasn't FDRs biggest battles with the Business Corporations whos power at the time was deminished by the Depression. He also had his battles with the supreme Court too! Over his "Socialist agenda".

by Ed beckmann 2010-09-28 04:49PM | 0 recs
One Response

What difference did the Left/Right dynamic make? Almost none whatsoever.

I'll only respond to this one particular point. That statement is not true from any objective results oriented view. We can examine the facts as they played out.

Both Obama and Bush proposed a budgetary stimulus to help the economy. Bush's failed - leading to or failing to prevent an even worse economic disaster. Obama's largely succeeded in halting the decline and beginning the reverse.

Both Obama and Bush "bailed out" the auto manufacturers - The Bush plan failed and the companies teetered on the brink of insolvency, the Obama plan succeeded and tax payers are likely to recoup their investment in the companies in a short while.

Obama inherited TARP from Bush, but while under Bush losses were expected to be over 1/2 of the program, under Obama it's all going to be pretty much repaid, other than those bits used for home-owner assistance.

There are undoubtably numerous other cases in which "change" has been made. Would we have gotten student loan reform or Medicaid and CHIP expansion under Bush/McCain. Not on your life. So there are actual real world differences. I understand that as far as playing politics goes it may not be enough.

by vecky 2010-09-28 03:41PM | 0 recs
This is Obama's Message

During the entire campaign, Obama said that he does not want to fight the right-left battle. He wants solutions.

True, to get things done, Obama works with corporations and with individuals. But the purpose of everything he does is to enhance the life of individuals. If you remember, Obama was the first to denounce the Citizens United decision.

It takes time to make change. And liberals like you should give Obama slack. Maybe you disagree on tactics. But I'm sure Obama's goals are the same as yours.

 

by PaulSiegel 2010-09-28 04:02PM | 1 recs
RE: This is Obama's Message

Here's a little  secret: Jerome Armstrong voted for Obama in 2008. And Jerome will back progressive candidates in 2010. Yep.  Don't tell anyone though. 

Everyone loves the pilot except the crew.

by Trey Rentz 2010-09-29 11:19AM | 0 recs
RE: People vs Corporations

First off, you should link to Barry more often, he runs a great blog.

@PaulSiegel, oh Paul you need a hug.  You suffer from believing the words that are coming out of the man's mouth.  You're not alone because Obama is a really good talker.  Let me assure you, Obama will never give us more than some bread crumbs.  They'll be pretty tasty at times, meanwhile the top 1% will be getting more wealthy,  more powerful, and the rest of America will continue to decline.

You need to spend less time listening to Obama and more time watching Obama.  Watch who he appoints, who he fights for, and watch who he fights against.  I believe he opposed every single Progressive who primaried an incumbent Dem.  Isn't that just a tad interesting?  I mean in elections where there is no question about the Dem winning come November, he had to make sure there wouldn't be any new Progressive voices.

by BSelznick 2010-09-28 04:46PM | 0 recs
RE: People vs Corporations

So let me get this straight. We should trust YOUR word that Obama's words are all lies? Who are you to "assure" people that Obama will do or not do anything?

I've watched Obama's actions, and while I am disappointed by many of them, I don't see those actions as revealing what you think is so obvious.

Permit me, if you will, to present an alternative reason why Obama acts the way he does:

Instead of being a secret conservative corporatist neocon, I think Obama is actually just as liberal and populist as he presents himself to be. He believes, however, that the best (or only) possible way to achieve his goals is to work through the existing system. He wants to make very small changes, one at a time. 

Now, I don't agree with this approach. I would prefer a more partisan, more populist Obama, who fights for his core beliefs and fights to enact sweeping changes. I think that while he'd lose many of the battles, he would overall be more successful than his conciliatory approach permits. But that is an issue of strategy. I am unwilling to buy into the conspiracy theory that Obama somehow tricked us into believing he was something he was not just so he could win an election. 

by BlueGAinDC 2010-09-28 06:54PM | 0 recs
RE: People vs Corporations

On the campaign trail candidate Obama was pretty clear about our financial mess and what he would do about it.  Then as POTUS he filled the Treasury Department with Rubenites and anyone with “Goldman Sachs" on their resume.  Comedians even joked, well who would know better how to fix our economic woes than the guys who created the disaster.  Unfortunately it's no joke, but in a perverse sense we are the punch line. 

I don't know which of Obama's actions has "disappointed" you, but seriously look into the big money.  That's what this is all about.  And, that's what nearly everyone is pissed off about.  The big money is continuing to be taken from us and handed to the top 1%.  Our current economy could be doing a lot better, but not when every move is constrained to Bob Rubin's shadow.  More than any other matter, this had nothing to do with Just-Say-No Republicans, or needing to get 60 votes, this was Obama's decision.

by BSelznick 2010-09-28 11:03PM | 0 recs
RE: People vs Corporations

Again, I don't see how any of that signifies that Obama has ulterior motives. Regarding his appointments: Obviously I agree that its stupid to put the people who caused this mess in charge of fixing it. But these are people who, despite their failures, were still considered economic 'experts.' It's like say, if there was a huge oil spill in the gulf of mexico and the company responsible for it was put in charge of fixing it. They may have caused it, but that doesn't necessarily mean they arn't the best ones to fix it. (Again, I'm not agreeing with this idea, but this is just an issue of poor judgement rather than secret plans to make people rich)

As for "big money," again, unfortunately this is how our country works. If Obama came in with say a plan to "redistribute the wealth," do you think he'd have any chance of getting anything done? Obviously not. He can't just make sweeping changes without experiencing enormous backlash. 

The idea that "our current economy could be doing a lot better" is a given is ridiculous. Just saying it doesn't make it true. When Obama took office, our economy was in a state it had never been before. There were multiple approaches suggested, but there's absolutely no reason to believe any of the other ones would have had more success. Of course, after the fact, everyone says "my idea would have worked better," but that's just as much an unknown as it was back before any plan was implemented.

I have no problem with progressives urging Obama to be more partisan, fight for more progressive policies, take a more populist stance, etc. But this idea that Obama is no better than W., that he perpetuated some crazy fraud on America, is absolutely ridiculous. 

by BlueGAinDC 2010-09-28 11:57PM | 0 recs
The greatest threat to Democracy is the

Conspiracy between the Bush Supreme Court and the Corporatist. The Citizens United is just the Begining of this courts determined effort to turn America into a Banana Republic.

 

by Ed beckmann 2010-09-28 05:00PM | 0 recs
RE: People vs Corporations

Again, I don't see how any of that signifies that Obama has ulterior motives. Regarding his appointments: Obviously I agree that its stupid to put the people who caused this mess in charge of fixing it. But these are people who, despite their failures, were still considered economic 'experts.' It's like say, if there was a huge oil spill in the gulf of mexico and the company responsible for it was put in charge of fixing it. They may have caused it, but that doesn't necessarily mean they arn't the best ones to fix it. (Again, I'm not agreeing with this idea, but this is just an issue of poor judgement rather than secret plans to make people rich)

As for "big money," again, unfortunately this is how our country works. If Obama came in with say a plan to "redistribute the wealth," do you think he'd have any chance of getting anything done? Obviously not. He can't just make sweeping changes without experiencing enormous backlash. 

The idea that "our current economy could be doing a lot better" is a given is ridiculous. Just saying it doesn't make it true. When Obama took office, our economy was in a state it had never been before. There were multiple approaches suggested, but there's absolutely no reason to believe any of the other ones would have had more success. Of course, after the fact, everyone says "my idea would have worked better," but that's just as much an unknown as it was back before any plan was implemented.

I have no problem with progressives urging Obama to be more partisan, fight for more progressive policies, take a more populist stance, etc. But this idea that Obama is no better than W., that he perpetuated some crazy fraud on America, is absolutely ridiculous. 

by BlueGAinDC 2010-09-28 11:55PM | 2 recs
Not seeing it.

The left has always been against the corporations. The right and the GOP, for the most part, have been in favor of them. So where's the new paradigm? True, the Democratic Party has usually waffled on the issue. And President Obama is clearly a corporatist. But the actual "left" is, was and probably always will be anti corporation.

by freemansfarm 2010-09-29 09:50AM | 0 recs
RE: Not seeing it.

In defense of the Right.  I would say that from their perspective, Progressive interventions such as environmental regulations, Agricultural Policy, Medicare, the push for homeownership, and the existence of a Federal Reserve (to name a few) are all actions that solidify the hold that large corporations have over our lives.  I think there is some truth to this.  But I also think that rolling back corporate regulation (such as it is), cutting the social safety net, and going back to a gold standard at this juncture would not result in a pefect society the way some libertarians do.  Part of me wonders if the real problem is Progressive action that is taken in the context of compromise.  For example, if we just went whole-hog and had Medicare funded and administered by public entities rather than insurance companies, you'd probably get a more efficient system that didn't stack the deck so heavily in favor of big insurance.  But that would be Socialism.  And Glenn Beck does not like Socialism.  Just ask him.

by the mollusk 2010-09-29 12:20PM | 0 recs
RE: Not seeing it.

How exactly do:

"Progressive interventions such as environmental regulations, Agricultural Policy, Medicare, the push for homeownership, and the existence of a Federal Reserve"

solidify the hold of large corporations? It's not like large corporate conglomerations didn't exist before these policies/agencies came into being.

 

by vecky 2010-09-29 12:52PM | 0 recs
RE: Not seeing it.

each in their own way.  the push for homeownership (including the federal tax break) effectively subsidizes mortgage companies and artificially increases the price of homes.  environmental regulations increase the cost of doing business.  Ag Policy is currently geared toward massive harvests with prices supported through tax breaks for exporting food.  The Federal Reserve lends money to large banks at a lower rate than the banks lend it to us, allowing the banks to turn over large amounts of money to keep themselves in business.  i think the federal push for homeownership should end and ag policy should go back to the allotment program in place before 1973.  i also think the fed should have some power to lend to small businesses directly.  as far as environmental regulations, i think the problem is that they aren't enforced consistently or honestly.

certainly none of these created large corporations, but they can cement the hold large corporations have on their markets.

 

by the mollusk 2010-09-29 01:16PM | 0 recs
No change.

But this idea that Obama is no better than W

As Greenwald and others have made clear, he is no better than Bush on a whole host of civil liberty/national security State issues. In fact, he is worse, in that he has elevated Bush's ad hoc, semi secret practices into official government policy.

He is no better than Bush when it comes to Afghanistan. Again, he is in fact worse, escalating the war and stepping up the drone attacks on Pakistan. On Iran, despite the claims to the contrary, he has maintained the Bush policy of threats and ultimatums. On Israel, he has maintained the policy of unquestioned support for Israel while putting up a fig leaf of "concern" for the Palistinians. In Iraq, he is doing just what Bush did: pretend to begin standing down while continuing US military domination under the guise of "non combat" troops and mercenaries.

On the economy, he has followed Bush's TARP policies to the letter. He has also sold out completely to Wall Street, big Pharma, the insurance companies, BP and so on.

Obama, if one was looking for "change," has been an abysmal failure. Just as Jerome, and many of us posters, including myself, warned that he would be in 2008.

by freemansfarm 2010-09-29 09:58AM | 0 recs
The difference of course is

First, thanks in large part to Obama we avoided a Depression ... and in March of '09 that was a very scary, very real possibility.

Secondly, we did get financial reform, health care reform, etc.

To blame Obama for not getting it all or not fighting hard or whatever I think is bunk.   If Obama didn't want a fight then he should have just bagged health care.   Why bother?   Corporate America didn't want it, the Republicans didn't want it, so why spend the political capital and take the hits?  

Some people need a civics lession.   The President can't write and pass the laws himself.   It takes a Congress.   In that Congress, like it or not, and I don't, you need 60 votes to get anything out of the Senate.    You want a 100% never fail progressive agenda to pass?    Elect 60 progressive Senators.

Until you do, you will NEVER get all that you want.   

I find it ironic that it is Clinton supporters like myself now tasked with defending this guy, when we were telling Obama's starry eyed supporters back in '08 ... that one guy wasn't going to change anything because the Republicans and the lobbyists and the industry associations were not going to let down or go home.  They were going to fight.

And all we got back with this dreamy post-partisan crap.

Good day.

by RichardFlatts 2010-09-29 10:57AM | 0 recs
RE: The difference of course is

Speaking as an early and current obama supporter, I'm not entirely sure the clinton camp was all that excited about him then or now.

But the presidential discussion here is a red herring. Jerome's point is well made. The debate is about lobbyism.

 

 

by Trey Rentz 2010-09-29 11:17AM | 0 recs
As for Corporate America

There are three major problems.

Anti-trust laws are not enforced and consolidation, and the lack of competition that comes with it, is a problem in more and more industries.   Not only does it stifle competition but in the financial sector for instance it leads to 'too big to fail'.

Until you reign in corporate money in politics, or somehow match it (which is impossible) you are going to get skewed politics.   Both in terms of the legislation you see passed and in the candidates that get elected.

Until more people wake up and realize that corporate america is waging a battle in Washington against their best interests and supports groups and candidates willing to stand up then the problem will persist.   Fact is a vote is more powerful than money.   But not enough people care or are willing to put their self interest ahead of issues that motivate them (see the teabaggers as a great example, middle class folks carrying  corporate Americas water).

But I do think the guy who penned the article is something of a pinhead.    It is still a left - right battle for many reasons.

First and the most obvious is that nobody on the right is going to fight the corporations.  Not one person.   Not one advocacy group.   Nobody.   Not true on the left. 

Secondly, social issues are not going to go away.   The culture war is still being faught.   Granted the battle gets less heated at times, but it has not gone away.    Until gay marriage is settled, and until one side loses and accepts defeat on the abortion guestion, it will wage.   That is a left-right fight.

by RichardFlatts 2010-09-29 11:13AM | 0 recs
Excellent Diary

The premise of the diary is entirely true. As Dean said, we're living in a time in which unprecedented control of American institutions have been transferred to corporate control.  He used the example of media, in America.  He said that six companies control more than 85% of everything you see, or hear in America.

As a matter of course, the idea that breaking rank at this point and giving up the progressive revolution - can be rationalized - is moot. What is at stake here - is where to focus the strength of the blogosphere. In this election - because a progressive president was elected (and then, subsequently surrounded by largely DLC and pro-Hillary Clinton support staff that proceeded to embed himwithin corporate control) -  we do not have a problem with the president.

What we have a problem with, is the US Senate. This diary accurately poses the ideological question.

The partisan response, is that one party will stand for smart governance, the other - will stand for the lobbyism that has inundated the process. 20,000 page bills.  Etc. etc.

And so, the Dems have a chance - by focussing their efforts and rallying behind their president - to take higher ground.

See. Jerome has it wrong. The dems aren't going to lose the house. And they're not going to lose the senate.

And the president has made a great start to his tenure as a two term reformer and is on his way to an historic presidency.

Instead, what's going to happen - is the Tea party and the progressives are going to have their voices finally heard despite corporate media control of the channel.

And lobbyists, the darlings of American corporate interest - and the principal arm of control they wield over our institutions, are going to become ever more covert and ever more well funded. They will pour money into  the process.

 

But ultimately. They will be pouring money down a hole. And they will go the way of the Whig party, just as the Republican party cannot withstand its contradiction - they stand for 'more freedoms' but they are owned and in the pockets of the lobbyists, who couldn't give a damn if it doesn't help their corporate sponsor.

And thats why the Bush Republicans grew the government larger than any administration in the history of the United States.

The contract with America was broken. So now they're giving us a pledge. 

 

Sorry. I have to agree with Jerome. The real debate is not left/right, its corporate lobbyists vs. american voters.

And the real situation is - who should have the power to vote on  issues? The American people stood up loud and strong on behalf of healthcare reform.  And the lobbyists mutated it into this thing....

I really feel like Jerome  has the basis of this diary right. But he then engages in post hoc ergo propter hoc.

But. The quality of writing and expression, and the points made - are golden. He's got it right . Good work.

by Trey Rentz 2010-09-29 11:16AM | 0 recs
RE: Excellent Diary

Sorry. I have to agree with Jerome. The real debate is not left/right, its corporate lobbyists vs. american voters.

And the real situation is - who should have the power to vote on  issues? The American people stood up loud and strong on behalf of healthcare reform.  And the lobbyists mutated it into this thing...

Your sort of missing the point. A good portion of the electorate happen to like corporations. Or atleast prefer it to the alternative.

Tell your average person - we'll take away your Aetna Blue Cross/Shield employer provided coverage and enroll you in a government sponsored HMO - and they'll much rather stick with the former.

by vecky 2010-09-29 01:09PM | 0 recs
This time I have to agree, however this is a popular theme with...

Thom Hartman-talk radio show in the AM-from Portland, Or.  And he is moving to Washington, DC. 

He is passionate about this theme, I have heard him-talk, rant, yell,  about corporation vs individuals many time.

As for the present-I think most Dems will start to pay attention soon, its still too early for most.  Alot could tell you Bristol Palins rating on Dancing with the Stars, hardly anyone could tell you that Rahm Emanuel is probably going to run for Mayor in Chicago,  most would say "who?"

That is the sad state of our country,  Roberts and his sidekick that frowned at the State of the Union speech are going to eventually be seen for the big decision that changed politics and gave the corporations their payoff. 

As a sidenote, transparency about corporation $$$ is very important-many states are creating legislation towards this goal.  Minnesota already has it and Pawlenty"s $ and the Michelle nut now have to disclose.  So you might ask Target how that has worked out for them. 

You are mostly right, Jerome. 

by lja 2010-09-29 11:39AM | 0 recs
trying again to post. first two attempts failed.

 

I'm having a hard time distinguishing your rants, Jerome, (and the other race baiting rants, I now see here) from those of the lunatic tea partiers.  Like the old song, "If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain't gonna make it with anyone anyhow." I recall not so long ago when Bush was president, we couldn't even get an expansion of the SCHIP program done.  Whatever the faults of the health care reform, we passed a monumental health care reform bill into law that will have real benefits to real people.  I am supposed to think that is a failure?   What do you think a McCain/Palin administration would like?  Would we have had any progress on health care (or even a debate)?  Would we have gotten any attention to changing DADT?  Which from where I am standing, I see Obama fighting for... are we only on the side of our leaders when they are winning?  Instead of fighting a covert war in Pakistan with drones, we would have boots on the ground in Iran.  Or we would be belligerent to China in hot spots like the the South China Sea or with Russia or Georgia, or wherever...  And the difference is that while Obama may be no raging liberal in the mold of FDR (not that there has been one as POTUS in my life time), he is not a fascist, and that is what the Republican Tea Partiers are.  If you can't tell the difference, you are no better.

I'm having a hard time distinguishing your rants, Jerome, (and the other race baiting rants, I now see here) from those of the lunatic tea partiers.

 

 Like the old song, "If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain't gonna make it with anyone anyhow."

 

I recall not so long ago when Bush was president, we couldn't even get an expansion of the SCHIP program done.  Whatever the faults of the health care reform, we passed a monumental health care reform bill into law that will have real benefits to real people.  I am supposed to think that is a failure?  

 

What do you think a McCain/Palin administration would like?  Would we have had any progress on health care (or even a debate)?  Would we have gotten any attention to changing DADT?  Which from where I am standing, I see Obama fighting for... are we only on the side of our leaders when they are winning?  Instead of fighting a covert war in Pakistan with drones, we would have boots on the ground in Iran.  Or we would be belligerent to China in hot spots like the the South China Sea or with Russia or Georgia, or wherever... 

 

And the difference is that while Obama may be no raging liberal in the mold of FDR (not that there has been one as POTUS in my life time), he is not a fascist, and that is what the Republican Tea Partiers are.  If you can't tell the difference, you are no better.

 

by ebb 2010-09-29 08:58PM | 0 recs
People vs Corporation

This has already been going on way too long, same issue though different approach that we seldom disregard and take for granted. It’s so sad knowing that corporations will give out a lot of money just to have leverage on the government. That’s basic human instinct I think. However, “we” are the one who are suffering but we literally finance them, how ironic! The politicians will most likely take the easy way out by printing us into hyper-inflation rather than admit their folly and take the responsible action of implementing Greek-style austerity. The “ironicity” of life.

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by rhea 2010-09-30 07:43AM | 0 recs

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