Bastiat wrote this in 1848 and it rings as true today as it ever did.
Neoliberalism is the name of the contemporary system of plunder:
I want to revisit Rule of Law since I am in the midst of demanding my rights as a citizen be heard. Remember, the US Constitution guarantees our rights as citizens. WE THE PEOPLE have the right to legislate. WE THE PEOPLE have equal protection under law. WE THE PEOPLE have a Bill of Rights that is protected by three branches of government----Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. A Rule of Law nation cannot simply suspend equal protection and enforce only laws power decides to enforce. When our Maryland Attorney General runs for Governor with a platform issue to eliminate the State Prosecutor's Office particularly when Maryland is ranked at the bottom in the nation for fraud, corruption, and lack of transparency-----HE IS TELLING THE CITIZENS OF MARYLAND ---YOU HAVE NO RIGHTS TO PUBLIC JUSTICE.
Rule of Law may have a low or high degree of discretion, but Equal Protection places this squarely in the high degree.
Categorization of interpretations of Rule of Law------Wikipedia
Different people have different interpretations about exactly what "rule of law" means. According to political theorist Judith N. Shklar, "the phrase 'the Rule of Law' has become meaningless thanks to ideological abuse and general over-use", but nevertheless this phrase has in the past had specific and important meanings. Among modern legal theorists, most views on this subject fall into three general categories: the formal (or "thin") approach, the substantive (or "thick") approach, and the functional approach.
The "formal" interpretation is more widespread than the "substantive" interpretation. Formalists hold that the law must be prospective, well-known, and have characteristics of generality, equality, and certainty. Other than that, the formal view contains no requirements as to the content of the law. This formal approach allows laws that protect democracy and individual rights, but recognizes the existence of "rule of law" in countries that do not necessarily have such laws protecting democracy or individual rights.
The substantive interpretation holds that the rule of law intrinsically protects some or all individual rights.
The functional interpretation of the term "rule of law", consistent with the traditional English meaning, contrasts the "rule of law" with the "rule of man." According to the functional view, a society in which government officers have a great deal of discretion has a low degree of "rule of law", whereas a society in which government officers have little discretion has a high degree of "rule of law". The rule of law is thus somewhat at odds with flexibility, even when flexibility may be preferable.
The ancient concept of rule of law can be distinguished from rule by law, according to political science professor Li Shuguang: "The difference....is that, under the rule of law, the law is preeminent and can serve as a check against the abuse of power. Under rule by law, the law is a mere tool for a government, that suppresses in a legalistic fashion."
Folks, the Supreme Court is allowed to interpret law, not re-write it. There is nothing in the Constitution or its history that allows for corporations to be termed citizens. The original framers fought the Revolutionary War to get away from aristocracy and the East India global corporation so we know the Constitution would not be interpreted as has now been decided.
The system failed when our Senate and House failed to impeach Roberts for allowing such a vote to take place. DID YOU HEAR ANY OF YOUR POLS SHOUT THAT IMPEACHMENT OF ROBERTS WAS REQUIRED WITH THIS ASSAULT ON THE CONSTITUTION?
Now, neo-liberals in states like Maryland are pretending a candidate has to have money in order to be viable. Dismantling all public sources of education and voice on policy places all the power in the hands of private media and private non-profits to educate the public as they see fit. This is why in Maryland the agencies tasked with enforcing election law ignore the violations---they do not see any rights of citizens.
"While some still believe the United States is the greatest democracy on Earth, the US is actually a plutocracy, a government ruled by the wealthiest. The recent Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon will subject us to an even stronger plutocracy that no one will be able to deny. The ‘rule of money’ will become more deeply entrenched at a time of economic and environmental crisis."... As both Nixon and Mao said "Now is the time, seize the time."
Cindy Walsh is a simple social democrat but I value the voice of those citizens who feel disconnected from the two party system. I say repair the Democratic Party while others call for a third party.
WE ALL KNOW THE STATUS QUO IS NOT WORKING.
I disagree with the article's depiction of wealth inequity -----it is massive corporate fraud of ens of trillions of dollars that has created this inequity and we simply need to reinstate Rule of Law to bring back that money to government coffers and individual's pockets. IT'S ALL RULE OF LAW AND EQUAL PROTECTION.
The McCutcheon Decision Is Our Rallying Cry
By Kevin Zeese & Margaret Flowers, www.alternet.org
April 8th, 2014
While some still believe the United States is the greatest democracy on Earth, the US is actually a plutocracy, a government ruled by the wealthiest. The recent Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon will subject us to an even stronger plutocracy that no one will be able to deny. The ‘rule of money’ will become more deeply entrenched at a time of economic and environmental crisis.
In the US today, a small group of people rule over hundreds of millions of us through a government corrupted by money; and controls the economy through mega-businesses that receive special treatment from that government, prevent entrepreneurial competition and control tens of millions of people through low wages and high debt. The plutocrats fund the only two parties allowed to run for office and the people are manipulated by fear to vote against their interests in a mirage democracy of rigged elections.
The legitimacy of the US government is now in question. By illegitimate we mean it is rule by the 1%, not a democracy ‘of, by and for the people.’ The US has become a carefully designed plutocracy that creates laws to favor the few. As Stephen Breyer wrote in his dissenting opinion, American law is now “incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy.” Or, as former president, Jimmy Carter said on July 16, 2013 “America does not at the moment have a functioning democracy.”
Even members of Congress admit there is a problem. Long before the McCutcheon decision, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) described the impact of the big banks on the government saying: “They own the place.” We have moved into an era of a predatory form of capitalism rooted in big finance where profits are more important than people’s needs or protection of the planet.
It is up to us to use McCutcheon to energize the movement against money-corruption of the government and economy. Throughout history, bad court decisions have helped energize movements; people power can make that happen again. Already there is a growing movement against the American plutocracy.
Predatory Capitalism Feeds on Public Dollars, Forced Debt
Where does the strength of the plutocrats come from? Their control of public policies has created a massive welfare state for the wealthy while the rest of us are driven into debt. Understanding this relationship is essential if we are going to end it.
This week Strike Debt, an off-shoot of Occupy Wall Street, published the second edition of The Debt Resisters’ Operations Manual. They open the manual by describing the pervasiveness of debt:
“Everyone is affected by debt, from people taking out payday loans at 400% interest to cover basic living costs, to recent graduates paying hundreds of dollars in interest on their students loans every month, to working families bankrupted by medical bills, to elders living in ‘underwater’ homes, to the teachers and firefighters forced to take pay cuts because their cities are broke, to people in the global South suffering due to their countries being pushed into austerity and poverty by structural adjustment programs. Everyone seems to owe something, and most of us are in so deep it’ll be years before we have any chance of getting out—if we have any chance at all.”
Strike Debt points out that “over three-quarters of us have some type of personal debt. At least 14% of people living in the United States are already being pursued by debt collectors, which is more than double from a decade ago.” Putting people into the debt of big banks is “a profoundly effective form of social control.” When students leave school anchored by massive debt, it limits their choices. When underpaid workers are in debt with credit card bills or mortgages, it makes it impossible for them to fight for fair treatment at work or to quit and risk not being able to find another job.
Why do we have these debts? Because the policies put in place by corporate-dominated political parties have created unjust laws over time that ensure we accumulate massive debt.
As Strike Debt summarizes the situation:
“The reason you have tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills is that we don’t provide medical care to everyone. The reason you have tens of thousands of dollars of student loans is because the government, banks, and university administrators have contrived to cut government subsidies that support education while driving college costs through the roof. Unlike fifty years ago, it’s simply impossible for all but the wealthiest to attend college without them. Bubbles drive housing and food prices up, wages are kept artificially low so that they don’t keep up with inflation, and more and more of us rely on proliferating forms of ‘casual,’ ‘flexible,’ and part-time employment.”
The denial of basic services and education puts Americans from the poor through the upper middle class in economic peril. To add insult to injury, our public dollars that could pay for essential services and education are used instead to enable predatory behavior by big corporations. The biggest recipients of welfare are big business interests like Walmart and the big banks.
Walmart is the largest private employer in the US, with annual profits of over $15 billion. The six Walmart heirs have more wealth than the bottom 40% of all Americans combined. How did they get there? Massive government subsidies are central to Walmart’s business plan. These include tax breaks from state and local governments for each of their nearly 5,000 stores in the United States. And government subsidies to their employees for healthcare, food and housing because Walmart pays poverty wages. Of all retail outlets, Walmart is the largest recipient of government assistance in the country.
However, the biggest recipients of government assistance are the banks themselves. Through the private corporation known as the Federal Reserve, the banks have been given trillions of dollars in virtually no-interest loans. The banks then lend the money to the government at an immediate profit or to consumers and businesses for an even bigger profit. And then the banks borrow on those loans and expand their wealth even further, using the money to gamble on derivatives or other risky activities that put the economy at risk.
By giving the banks the governmental power to make money, a handful of Wall Street banks have become the dominant sector of the economy. Retaking the governmental power to create money would be a major step towards transforming the economy.
As if these subsidies aren’t enough, the banks and other large corporations also avoid paying taxes. One of many tax avoidance schemes is to keep money off-shore. A new report from ISI Research finds that U.S. S&P 500 companies now have $1.9 trillion parked outside the country. There have been proposals for a global tax on this income, but in our government owned by banks, these do not move forward.
While there are many predatory practices by the big banks against people in the United States, it is sometimes easier to see them when we look at behavior around the world. As the Debt Resister’s Operations Manual points out, “in 2008, the world’s poorest countries were paying $23 million a day in interest payments to the rich industrial world, for loans where the original principal had often already been paid back several times over.” In the US and around the world, they point out that: “Debt … has become the primary form of extracting and accumulating wealth for the rich.”
As a result of World Bank policies, millions of people are being thrown off their land because large corporations are being given special rights. The World Bank is driving this destructive trend with its Doing Business rankings, which force countries to compete with each other to do away with things like environmental protections, worker’s rights and corporate taxes. “The World Bank is facilitating land grabs and sowing poverty by putting the interests of foreign investors before those of locals,” says Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the Oakland Institute.
The other major international bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) provides loans to countries that come with policy conditions, called Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs), that require austerity and privatization of social services and resources. These SAPs undermine the government and economy, increase poverty and suffering and thus, lead to social unrest. Despite this, recent reports indicate the IMF is increasing the number of structural conditions and using its power to dominate highly sensitive, political policy areas (for example the recent $18 billion loan to Ukraine which will require cutting retirement benefits in half from roughly $100 to $50 per month).
All of these policies have had a dramatic and harmful impact. As economist Joseph Stiglitz testified recently “America has achieved the distinction of becoming the country with the highest level of income inequality among the advanced countries.” Strike Debt notes “the United States ranks 138th out of 141 countries in terms of wealth equality.” Stiglitz told the Senate Banking Committee there is “a vicious circle: our high inequality is one of the major contributing factors to our weak economy and our low growth.”
But even more stark than income inequality is wealth inequality, which is worsening. Due to debt, 47% of Americans have zero wealth while the “richest 0.1 percent of Americans have dramatically expanded their share of the country’s overall wealth in the last three decades.” Wealth is important because it represents ownership and control, “a higher concentration of wealth naturally implies that fewer individuals control the decisions made by firms in the economy,” according to Princeton’s Atif Mian and University of Chicago’s Amir Sufi.
The Revolt Against American Plutocracy
People are revolting against plutocracy in a variety of ways in the US and around the world. There are movements to eliminate the corrupting influence of money on politics, against austerity, for living wages, to end extreme energy extraction, to end insurance-based healthcare, to stop privatization of schools, to transform the Federal Reserve, to erase debt and many other issues.
The Debt Resister’s Manual points out that “Movements for debt resistance have a very long history. From ancient times, people have challenged the harsh penalties visited on defaulters, including branding, torture, imprisonment, and even slavery. In ancient Athens, the first known democratic constitution came about largely as a result of an outright rebellion of debtors…” And, they report we see protests growing: “Around the world, popular movements are beginning to rattle the chains, seeing debt for what it is—a form of domination and exploitation—and collectively rising up against it.”
People recognize that much of debt is illegitimate. The corrupt government allows usury interest rates and unfair loan practices. Cuts to social services and education force people into debt. The solutions are obvious, though we are told they are too radical. The Debt Resister’s Manual points out that “there was a kind of jubilee in Iceland after the 2008 economic crisis: instead of bailing out their banks, Iceland canceled a percentage of mortgage debt.”
In addition to resistance, people are building alternatives to corrupt big finance capitalism. The new economy that people are striving to create is defined by our values. Strike Debt summarizes:
“Our values will serve as our North Star: putting people and nature before profits; meeting need and not greed; empowering all and not just a few; becoming less alienated from our work and from each other; and creating more leisure time to spend with our loved ones.”
Jerome Roos of ROAR Magazine outlines the possibilities of a new finance system that was described at the Moneylab Conference in Amsterdam last week. He challenges his readers to think about money differently and to recognize that though our current monetary system is based on debt, it doesn’t have to be that way.
The Freelancer’s Union calls the growing new economy the “Quiet Revolution” and they invite people to map what their community is doing – cooperatives, collectives, local food networks. Another organization, the Democracy Collaborative, publishes a list of projects that we can all learn from on Community-Wealth.org. Next month we are holding a conference in Baltimore to work on creating a new local economy based on economic democracy that includes worker-owned businesses, new ways of structuring finance, affordable housing, clean energy and food security. One new form of urban agriculture that is taking off is the vertical farm.
People are discussing essential ideas that elected officials who represent the plutocrats will not even acknowledge. If we create new models, then they will eventually become the policy of the US and much of the world. For example, when you recognize that wealth comes from the commons – built on infrastructure like roadways and the Internet that we all pay for, or the intellectual and technical knowledge that universities and government research grants have paid for – and that major growth in the economy has always had major government involvement from the railroads to the Internet, then it becomes evident we must all share the wealth that this commons has created.
And because robotics and other technology mean there will be fewer jobs, indeed in the future we will not have enough jobs, we have to figure out new ways to provide income so that all can participate in the economy. One solution that is being discussed by those outside the major political parties is a guaranteed minimum income. This is one example of why we need to be independent of the two parties and not be limited by the agenda of either ‘rule of money’ based party.
Time to Energize the Movement to End the Rule of Money
The ‘arc of justice’ does not bend toward plutocracy. People powered movements that are building today will end plutocratic rule.
Last week we reported on two campaigns that were announced for this spring, the Worldwide Wave of Action and the Global Climate Convergence. After we published that article, two more campaigns were announced. Reset the Net, seeks to restore privacy to the Internet by our own actions rather than waiting for the government. People are taking action now to push Internet providers to provide privacy. Many would go further and make the Internet a public utility whose mission is to serve the public. Second, is a campaign against the abuses of international finance, particularly by the World Bank, Our Land Our Business. The IMF and World Bank have their meeting from October 10 to 12 in Washington, DC and actions are being urged around the world during that time period.
Rather than being despondent about the Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon, we should use it to energize and focus our efforts. Every issue is impacted by the corruption of the ‘rule of money.’ We know we cannot achieve the transformation that is needed so long as this corruption continues. A focal point of the ‘movement of movements’ must be to end the influence of money in US elections so it can be legitimately called a democracy.
The legitimacy of government is at the root of the founding of our nation. Our favorite ‘founder,’ Thomas Paine, put forward ideas that were ignored by those who wrote the Constitution, e.g. abolition of slavery, voting rights for all including woman and African Americans, healthcare for all and equitable sharing of the wealth of the nation. Now, 238 years later we are still fighting for some of his beliefs. In his article “We are Radicals at Heart: A New History Gets America Wrong,” Harvey J. Kaye writes that Paine told us “that history is not over, that prevailing inequalities and oppressions are not inevitable, and that we need to remember who we are and recognize that ‘We have it in our power to begin the world over again.’”
This will not be the first time in history that a corrupt court decision has inspired action. Indeed, the recognition that the British Crown was illegitimate came in part out of a court decision upholding the Great Writs – which allowed British authorities to search colonists at whim.
In 1761 James Otis argued against the Great Writs on behalf of Massachusetts colonists subjected to searches by British troops and Customs officials. He argued in a five hour oration before a packed State House, a speech that was printed in full in 1773 that searches without any oath for their basis allows the Crown’s authorities to “enter our houses when they please.” When the Crown court ruled against Otis in the Great Writs case, a young court reporter, John Adams, recorded the event writing “Then and there the child independence was born.”
Let us turn the corrupt decisions, Citizens United and McCutcheon, into our rallying cry for a government independent of the corrupting influence of money; and to create the kind of economic democracy and participatory government to which the ‘arc of justice’ points us.
WE SAW A SHIFT IN HOW OUR POLITICIANS SPOKE TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ABOUT THE SAME TIME THE DECISION WAS MADE TO CREATE INCOME INEQUITY THROUGH GLOBALIZATION. THE IDEA OF 'WE KNOW BEST' AND 'TELL THE MASSES WHAT THEY WANT TO HEAR, THEN DO WHAT YOU WANT' STARTS IN LEO STRAUSS' WRITINGS......the NEO-CONSERVATIVES embraced Strauss and IT CONTINUES WITH
TELL THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT TO HEAR AND THEN DO WHAT YOU WANT. In Maryland, Brown, Gansler, and Mizeur all campaigned as if progressive while all committing to a Wall Street and global corporate economy....knowing all progressive issues would not fly with neo-liberalism.
Leo Strauss' Philosophy of Deception
Bush/Cheney lived by Leo Strauss and so do the neo-liberals Clinton and now Obama. Leo Strauss spent most of his career as a professor of political science at the University of Chicago Barack Obama's last job was as a lecturer at University of Chicago.
THIS PHILOSOPHY PREDATES THE FRENCH REVOLUTION AND THE AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT.........WHICH IS WHY I CALL THEM MEDIEVAL!
Obama delared these times as the age of 'exceptionalism' used below by Leo Strauss.. The people thinking themselves most smart rule. We all know that winning by lying, cheating, and stealing is the sign of thuggery.....not a sign of intelligence. Note that the Tea Party sees this same thing in their neo-cons and want it gone. It is crony capitalism and government.
NO RULE OF LAW OR EQUAL PROTECTION SAYS LEO STRAUSS!
Leo Strauss ---- Neoconservative favorite philosopher
The novelty or uniqueness of the alleged elitism can, of course, be much overstated, for one strain of American political science, going all the way back to the Federalists, has always emphasized the significant role of elites within democratic politics, as have more current writers like Joseph Schumpeter and Robert Dahl. But in the media presentations, Strauss's elitism is different and appears more sinister than other versions of democratic elitism. His elitism is presented as more intellectual: the relevant division between the elite few and the many is the line between philosophers and nonphilosophers. What distinguishes Strauss's elite is not wealth, status, power, or military or economic power, but recognition of "the truth." This truth is hard to face: there is no God, and there is no divine or natural support for justice. "Virtue . . . is unattainable" by most people. "The . . . hidden truth is that expediency works." Or, alternatively: "Strauss asserted 'the natural right of the stronger' to prevail."
The truths discovered by the philosophic elite "are not fit for public consumption." Philosophy is dangerous and must conceal its chief findings. Philosophers must cultivate a mode of esoteric communication, that is, a mode of concealing the hard truth from the masses. "Only philosophers can handle the truth." The elite must, in a word, lie to the masses; the elite must manipulate them—arguably for their own good. The elite employ "noble lies," lies purporting to affirm God, justice, the good. "The Philosophers need to tell noble lies not only to the people at large, but also to powerful politicians." These lies are necessary "in order to keep the ignorant masses in line." Thus Strauss counseled a manipulative approach to political leadership. In sum, the media writers conclude, Strauss held that "Machiavelli was right." When read with "a skeptical mind, the way he himself read the great philosophers . . . Strauss . . . emerges a disguised Machiavelli, a cynical teacher who encouraged his followers to believe that their intellectual superiority entitles them to rule over the bulk of humanity by means of duplicity."
When a government suspends Rule of Law as it has the past decade or two-----it suspends Statute of Limitation. The American people are guaranteed the right to due process, so all of the tens of trillions of dollars in corporate fraud that decimmated the public's wealth with no justice can and will come back to those victimized.
The other piece of Due Process deals with 'vague laws'. The American people are constantly told we have no way to prosecute because the definition of 'fraud' is too vague. Maryland has one of the worst of fraud laws and this takes away our rights as citizens to Due Process in crimes against us. NONE OF THIS IS LEGAL. We need to continue to demand compensation for the loss of our retirement and savings from these massive frauds.
Due Process Clause
The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution contain a due process clause. Due process deals with the administration of justice and thus the due process clause acts as a safeguard from arbitrary denial of life, liberty, or property by the Government outside the sanction of law. The Supreme Court of the United States interprets the clauses however more broadly because these clauses provide four protections: procedural due process (in civil and criminal proceedings), substantive due process, a prohibition against vague laws, and as the vehicle for the incorporation of the Bill of Rights.
A fundamental tenet of Constitutional due process is that laws enacted by a legislative body must be applied, and enforced, in an equal and non-discriminatory manner.