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Morgan Stanley: Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself ...

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Great corporate culture over there at Morgan Stanley, huh? (Did I mention that Erskine Bowles is on the Board of Directors?)

"So if you meet me have some sympathy, have some courtesy, have some taste ..."

Why are these kinds of human beings still accepted in polite company? Bob Dylan said, "Money doesn't talk, it swears." In this case, it swears allegiance -- to any politician willing to do its bidding.

This year Morgan Stanley contributions -- the ones we know about -- are running four to one in favor of Mitt Romney. Its execs hosted a high-cost fundraiser for him last July, arm-twisting their employees to kick into Mitt's "Victory Fund."

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But money swears allegiance to anyone at any time. The visible contributions from Morgan Stanley (as opposed to concealed SuperPAC donations) add up to nearly $2 million so far in this election cycle and, while Republicans are getting the lion's share of the money, a good chunk of it is going to Obama and the Democrats.

No wonder the GOP's become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wall Street. And there are always Democrats like Harold Ford, eager to cash in on their former government service. Every sitting politician, no matter which party they belong to, sees the kind of money to be made by kowtowing to people like Morgan Stanley's bankers -- and a lot of them want a taste for themselves.

Did we mention that Erskine Bowles' proposal is considered "bipartisan"?

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"Use all your well-learned politesse, or I'll lay your soul political career to waste ..."

In a post-Citizens United nation, money doesn't even swear anymore: It kills. It kills democracy.

People who know Erskine Bowles say he's a very nice man. He probably is. That complicates the question even further. Is it really just that people are "no damned good"? Or, pace Mom, is it our democracy that's being corrupted, making the rise of the Erskine Bowles class inevitable?

"I shouted out 'who killed democracy?' when, after all, it was you and me ..."

People who have a shred of conscience, in office or outside it, shouldn't tolerate the kinds of behavior we've seen from Morgan Stanley and our other big banks. But they do.

We do, too. We do it every day that we tolerate a political system that's run on greed and campaign contributions. Why aren't we out in the streets demanding a change?

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By all means, we should vote next month. But we need to vote with our feet, too, so that when the next election comes around we'll have something on the ballot besides austerity-driven Morgan Stanley democracy.

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Host of 'The Breakdown,' Writer, and Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

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