Tag Archives: corruption

How Corporations Bought Washington (it was cheap)

Summary: With Campaign 2016 America passes into new hands. It’s a capstone to the slow political revolution by the 1% since 1970 (the Boomers’ legacy). Before we vote, let’s remember the steps that brought us here. Such as the growth of corporate lobbying, whose success shows that our government is for sale at discount prices. These articles describe how this happened in plain sight –while we played.


How the Lobbyists Win in Washington

By Jeff Madrick in the New York Review of Books.
In the 7 April 2016 issue. Posted with permission.

Review of The Business of America is Lobbying:
How Corporations Became Politicized and Politics Became More Corporate
by Lee Drutman.


“On President Obama’s first day in office in 2009, he issued an executive order to close “the revolving door” between government and the private sector by restricting the hiring of any registered lobbyists for positions in his administration. But Obama himself eventually hired at least seventy lobbyists, many of whom then returned to lobbying after a stint in his administration. So much for Obama’s campaign pledge that he would “tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over.” The executive order has since been dropped, and the number of business lobbyists in Washington has continued rising rapidly.

“Taking jabs at the profession remains a popular sport, even among Republicans. Donald Trump claimed at one of the Republican debates this fall that he would not talk to lobbyists once elected. Jeb Bush said that he would not let any more into Washington’s halls of power. The question remains: How much influence on Washington’s agenda do business lobbyists have?

“A book titled The Business of America is Lobbying by a highly regarded Washington watchdog, Lee Drutman, is therefore welcome, especially during a new presidential season. It takes some wading through Drutman’s disorganized prose and his sometimes ambivalent feelings about lobbying to find his main messages. But there are two crucial points that are disturbing. The first is that business spends $34 on lobbying for every dollar spent by likely opponents such as labor unions and other interest groups.

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New York shows how Democrat-run cities & states contribute to the rise of Trump

Summary;  Slowly Americans begin to see the rise of Right’s new populists — such as Trump, Rubio, and Cruz — is more than a flash-in-the-pan revolt before the conservatives accept their designated leaders (as the Democrats have accepted the elderly Hillary). A few on the Left have begun to realize that the Left has some responsibility for this. They deserve attention amidst the pointless chatter about the 2016 races. Such as those asking about the Dems’ often bad (sometimes horrifically so) management of the cities and States they control.  {1st of 2 posts today.}

NY Post: NY corruption on the front page

Excerpt from “What’s the Matter With New York?

By Zephyr Teachout (Assoc Prof of Law, Fordham)

“The state with one of the richest progressive traditions has the highest inequality and the most segregated schools, not to mention a tax code that allows hedge funders to get away with murder.”

In his extraordinary book, What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, Tom Frank asked why blue-collar workers in his home state repeatedly voted against their own economic interest, casting ballots in favor of Republican policies that favored the rich and powerful.

You could as easily ask, “What’s the Matter with New York?” But here it’s a different mystery, although with just as devastating consequences. In the state with one of the richest progressive traditions, we have the highest inequality and the most segregated schools, and the tax code allows hedge funders to get away with murder, extracting cash from the poor and middle class New Yorkers because they can.

Because of the extraordinary amount of money involved, the political pathologies of the country are all exaggerated in New York State. In an accelerating, out of control, downward spiral, the income inequality here begets political inequality (which also leads to lower voter turnout), which begets further income inequality which begets more political inequality and on and on.

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Does corruption limit China’s growth, or pose a threat to its existence?

Summary:   Critics of China often cite its high level of corruption as a limiting factor to its growth, or a possible cause of its fall — or even disintegration. Like so many of American’s views about China, it’s false. Probably a way to diffuse awareness that a powerful rival has emerged on the world stage.  Here we compare China’s corruption to that of America’s past — and present.



  1. China today
  2. Late 19th century America
  3. America today
  4. For More Information


(1)  China today

Is Corruption in China ‘Out of Control’? A Comparison with the U.S. In Historical Perspective“, Carlos D. Ramirez (Assoc Prof Economics, George Mason U), 4 December 2012 — Abstract:

This paper compares corruption in China over the past 15 years with corruption in the U.S. between 1870 and 1930, periods that are roughly comparable in terms of real income per capita. Corruption indicators for both countries and both periods are constructed by tracking corruption news in prominent U.S. newspapers. Several robustness checks confirm the reliability of the constructed corruption indices for both countries.

The comparison indicates that corruption in the U.S. in the early 1870s — when it’s real income per capita was about $2,800 (in 2005 dollars) — was 7 to 9 times higher than China’s corruption level in 1996, the corresponding year in terms of income per capita. By the time the U.S. reached $7,500 in 1928 — approximately equivalent to China’s real income per capita in 2009 — corruption was similar in both countries.

The findings imply that, while corruption in China is an issue that merits attention, it is not at alarmingly high levels, compared to the U.S. historical experience. The paper further argues that the corruption and development experiences of both the U.S. and China appear to be consistent with the “life-cycle” theory of corruption — rising at the early stages of development, and declining after modernization has taken place. Hence, as China continues its development process, corruption will likely decline.

(2)  Late 19th century America

This unflattering comparison of modern China with late 19th century America should not surprise us. Post-civil war America (especially the Gilded Age) America was a horror show. Public and private force was used to suppress Blacks, American Indians, Asians, and workers (see the Wikipedia entry, also for the 1892 Homestead Strike and the 1894 Pullman Strike).  When the cavalry arrived, it was often to help the bad guys (or one of the groups of dueling bad guys, as in the Lincoln County War).

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